Every member of the staff has worked hard this year to increase their comfort level with technology and to grapple with how all of this should impact our teaching and learning. The last couple of faculty meetings have been highlighted by some excellent professional sharing. We start each meeting by sharing the professional reading from blogs or online magazines with a focus on things 2.0 and discoveries. This is constructivist learning in practice and the discoveries, questions and ideas highlight the growth we have made this year.
Among the topics of conversation at the meeting were:
- Andy Carvin’s article that talks about when laptops “fail” it is because we are not using them for anything more than fancy pencils. The purpose of laptops according to the article is 4 fold equal access, mobility, individual creativity and collaboration. ( The digital divide is a real issue and we have an obligation to assure all students have the advantages ( and skills) needed for today’s world)
- The issue of understanding vs. learning- Are we teaching for understanding?
- The role of the teacher …we are no longer gatekeepers of knowledge…
- The description of an effective 2.0 classroom in this article Mend it, Don’t End It
It is interesting to note that much of the discussion was about pedagogy not the tools. Hats off to the staff for deep thinking and for constructing meaning.
In addition to these highlights we have also spent two weeks on defining literacy for the digital age. It too is an important discussion and it helps us to focus on the skills that must be imbedded within the curriculum.
Key components of our constructed definition are:
· Communicate effectively
· Utilize various forms of media
· Find , evaluate and utilize information in a moral and ethical manner
· Read fluently, write, communicate, and analyze effectively both written and digital text
· Create and participate in a global community
The following definition was also offered ( from wikipedia): “The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has drafted the following definition: "Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society."Looking back we have grown tremendously and looking forward we know that the needs of our students are complex. While the basic skills involved in learning are still the foundations of education they are not enough if our students are to succeed in our digital and globally connected world.
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