Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reflecting on NECC and Philosophizing About Twitter

Many great minds have blogged during NECC but I do not find my mind nimble enough to blog on the fly. I like the skype streams Jeff posted...that kind of on the spot thinking and reflecting works better for me. Now with NECC over as i sit in the airport I can start to sort out my experience and my take aways. I will l add my humble voice to the arena...partly to work through my thoughts...partly to share the things that impacted me... partly to create a record that can guide my own planning for the future.

Monday at NECC.......and everyday at NECC..(I have to say it )... is about the conversations and the relationships and that is the hard part to bring to those of you who were viewing from a distance. A few folks have skyped in for bits and pieces (of course the built -in camera in the Apple /Mac world helps here). The afternoon in the bloggers lounge was the gathering place of monumental proportion. The lounges are a great edition to NECC allowing like minded souls to congregate and find one another. At any given time in the day you can pull up a chair in the lounge and have some good conversation. And then there was/is twitter. I just read Chris Sessums beginning reflection on it educational potential. But the most powerful thing for me is the quote he starts with and his reflection..."it makes us feel good about being human." At the Leadership Symposium David Warlick talked about the digital divide having to do with being connected which struck me at the time and now seems even more empowering. Twitter has the potential to make us neighbors across time and space. It is different than most other shrinks are world and catches us up when we drop into the "neighborhood". We will see what will be...but for now it is extending my community and my NECC/Edubloggers experience.

As for NECC...I am not sure how much I will write on specific sessions but I will try to articulate my take aways.

New friends/new voices to inform my thought and practice

New understanding of some tools and new tools- the best one being voice thread

A better sense of how to proceed minus textbooks ( this one probably deserves a post of its own)

A better concept of the need for change in the setup of our physical space

A validation of where I am going but more importantly a more deliberate plan moving into the future

Two areas were particularly impacted...

Approaching professional development and technology training through deliberately guided discussion of pedagogy and planning

This came through Karl Fisch( and team) and through conversation with Chris Lehman

Both painted a great picture of the process they used starting with identify what learning they wanted , discussing what it might look like and then looking at tools and just in time instruction. Seems simple enough but for some reason it came together for me as a deliberate strategy in these conversations

The other has to do with leadership style and thing sI need to cultivate in myself and then through that within the community. Again Chris contributed here as did the keynote with Dr Tyson and a lot of my conversations. It is that constant flow of recognition , appreciation and celebration which is so important to a community.Again nothing earth shattering but in relationship and conversation with others we can get new focus for our own practice.

I apoligize for the kind of journaling flavor of this post...but then again that is part of the blogging experience...time to collect your own thoughts. I will post more about the textbook issue and I will be interested to see how the twitter discussion develops.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

EdubloggerCon and NECC- In the beginning

Edublogger Con and the ISTE Leadership Symposium are the lead offs to my Atlanta experience. Yesterday was a relaxed gathering with a lot of great conversations. It was kind of fun to listen to the way we greeted each other...revealing our connections...sometimes it was the blog name that made the connection sometimes the 2nd life name...aha you are the Knowclue Kid...I know you now! I have to say even in our digital world there is something great about face to face meetings that solidify relationships and friendships. Plus you can ask all of the questions you have been saving for these moments.

There were many highlights but the end of the day stuck with me. The last "conversation" I attended was led by Chris Lehman on administration in a 2.0 school. (Probably because this issue is near and dear to me...) Chris opened the conversation with the staement that "We finally have the tools to live Dewey's dream... " this statement is worthy of some further reflection. Since I am not ready to do that here you can take a look at these Dewey quotes for yourself.

. John Dewey believed that “learning is a product and reward of occupation with subject matter.” He believed that good teachers give their students something to do and not something to learn. He also believed that education takes place indirectly through the medium of the environment. I believe that Dewey’s words could be interpreted today as an encouragement to create online environments - online extensions of our classrooms - where students can explore ideas that they find personally meaningful and relevant. ( from Konrad)

During the conversation we identified a number of kep components involved in supporting and encouraging change. Among these we discussed the need to make time by re-examining prioritiies and tasks, teaching schedules and daily schedules. We also discussed efining data- the way we collect it and the way we share it.This was a recurring theme in several strands. If we do not address this issue other will define this for us and that could have a serious impact on what we are doing and where we are going. Even this morning in the Leadership Symposium when we talked about what the refreshed NETS will look like in the classroom the data issue was ever present. My thinking returned to the classic "t" graph......What will I see and hear when I visit classrooms that will rveal the integration of NETS. I think the refreshed NETS are clearly accessible to all curriculum areas but defining a picture of them in action will be part of my summer task. okay now i am thinking aloud...Maybe (just maybe) I can get the staff to join in a collaborative document that can flesh this out. This morning ISTE launched a survey which will be open all week to genrate lesson plan ideas for the refreshed NETS. I am assuming it will be posted to their web site eventually.

One final note for the conference so far... In David's talk for the leadership Symposium this morning one thing that really caught my attention was something he said about being connected. The gist of the comment was that the digital divide is not just about having technology it is about being connected versus being alone. This to will take a little least on the surface it is a powerful concept. certainly the global connectivity we have redefines relationships. Finally to end on a light note David also used a phrase that I had not heard and had a nice twist to it. in talking abut tagging and the ability to file things in multiple places he said , "that would be hard to do in the molecule world". I like that the digital world ve the molecule world.!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

A Red Letter Day : Today we jumped in with both feet and the water is great!

This school year is winding down but not our brave, tenacious, digital immigrant teachers! Remembering that in August our computers had two inches of dust on them, no one had used an LCD projector and blogs and wikis were a foreign language...Today we celebrate a true red letter day....

11 to 12 year old students, after a full day of classes went home, put on their full dress uniforms (includes ties for the boys) and came back to school at 5:30 to go back to class. What you asked could motivate these students to do this....their teacher of course! How you ask? With the promise of an opportunity to do something they had never done before... make a video phone call using skype to have a real time conversation with students in China. ( Special thanks to Jeff who helped make this happen even though he only has two days left in his school year!)

The kids were unsure what to expect and even a little shy as we gathered this afternoon, but once the connection was made and the other class appeared before us everybody was captivated. After the introductions the kids took turns asking questions and we all chatted for about 30 minutes! By the end of the conversation the students had a new interest in China and might even go there someday. Suddenly the study of China was real...not just some strange place in a history was a real place with a school and students and through the miracle of the Internet it seemed to be just around the corner! They got a first hand account of Chinese New Year, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City and they have deepened their understanding of what they had learned. Today I can say without any hesitation that our students are moving toward a deeper understanding of our global community and our connectedness! As we discuss this experience in class ( and with our extended community) we hope it will help us construct a deeper and more robust idea of what it means to be learners in the 21st century!

At this time of year when we are making plans for next year and reflecting on this year it is my goal to assure that we end the year celebrating our accomplishments and in full stride so that we hit the ground running in the Fall. Today's experience was one giant step; students, parents and teachers were all actively involved in a whole new way of learning and in the end it was really so simple, so easy...

This post would not be complete without a special thanks to all the support we have received this year. Thank you to Don Kenzek and ISTE for getting us started with the ISTE Institute. Thank you to all of the educational bloggers who have provided ideas and inspiration. Thank you to all the members of our school community who have embraced change and sincerely are seeking ways to meet the needs of 21st century learners!
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