The past two days at NECChave been full of great learning and excellent experiences. I received a tweet asking our favorite session. I was having trouble deciding on just one, so I responded with several sessions. Most of the sessions have had something to offer, but Chris Lehmann’s School 2.0: Combining Progressive Pedagogy and 21st-Century Tools stood out.
In this packed session (notes below), Chris gave us his take on education first and then took us, as a group, the process of developing an UBD lesson. Along the way he masterfully facilitated the development, asking refining and clarifying questions, redirecting as needed. I could almost put myself into his school and see how he works with his staff through this process. really, really good stuff. I think I want to work at the SLA.
Although they appear below, they bear repeating when considering our approach to education, leadership, and related technologies “Tools don’t teach, but they change the way we teach. AND It’s not about the tool; it’s about the teaching.”
That’s the truth.
One of the other benefits of the session and also the conference is that I got to meet several of the authors of the blogs I read including Wes Fryer, Will Richardson, Karl Fisch, Bud Hunt, Stephanie Sandifer, Chris Lehmann, and Ewan McIntosh. For all of our online interactions, it’s very nice to shake hands and talk with people face to face.
By the way, before Chris Lehmann’s session ended, Ewan McIntosh had already posted about the session. When Dean Shareski asked how he could post before the session was over, Ewan tweeted in response “McIntosh always posts before the session’s done. I’m tomorrow’s NECC today ;-)” Good humor.
Chris Lehmann’s Session Notes
In our hurry to learn “What’s new,” we can’t lose sight of “What’s best?” Examine using the new tools in a school-wide, constructivist manner. Recommended by ISTE’s SIGTC
· We work best and learn best when it matters to us
· Create caring institutions
o Who the direct and indirect objects of our sentences are
§ We teach kids first, subjects second
· It’s not about us
· It has to be inquiry driven
· It has to matter
· It needs to be metacognitive
· Technology infused
o Ubiquitous, necessary, and individual
· It has to be driven by understanding
· How do we get there?
· Pedagogy matters a lot
o (it matters for everything)
· Progressive teaching
o Using 21st Century Tools
· How to prevent Technology Overload
o What’s good is a better question than what’s new
§ The best one is the one we decide to use
· 5 things for kids
· A Convenient and Reasonably False Taxonomy
o Tools for each
· Tools don’t teach, but they change the way we teach
· What are your goals and what tools get you there?
o It’s not about the tool; it’s about the teaching
· Understanding by Design
o How much more could kids learn if they didn’t have to spend all this time figuring out the adults
§ Transparent Learning
o Step 1: Desired Results
§ What transfer goals and content goals will be met?
§ What should students come away understanding?
§ What essential questions will students explore and address?
§ What knowledge & skills [content] will students leave with?
o Step 2: Assessment Evidence
§ How do we authentically assess?
§ What performances and products will reveal evidence of understanding?
§ What other evidence will be collected to reflect other Desired Results?
§ (the schools we need) Tests and quizzes are dipsticks to see if kid get the skills
§ (Authentic assessment is not just an end game)
o Step 3: The Learning Plan
§ What activities, experiences, and lessons will lead to achievement of the desired results and success at the assessments?
The people at Virtual High School, Liz Pape and all, have done a great job with the Advancing Online Learning Conference including some engaging speakers and breakout sessions. Dr. Mark Milliron delivered our keynote Wednesday morning, giving his take on current learners, the future of education and its relationship to the world. At lunch Dr. Jesse Harriott, VP of Research for Monster Worldwide spoke about preparing students for competition in a global workforce. Allison Powell from NACOLand Steven Ruscito from Middletown High School in Rhode Island took part in a panel and broadly discussed among the topics above the October 2007 Blackboard report Learning in the 21st Century: A National Report on Online Learning. Sessions I attended over the two days included Online Instructional Programs & Models; New Approaches to Online Science; Non-traditional or At Risk Students in Online Learning; Current Research in Online Learning; and using Virtual Classroom Tools.
Today’s (Thursday, 4/11) keynote featured Robert Currie from Michigan Virtual High School who discussed, among other things, Michigan’s online learning graduation requirement and the CareerForward initiative created in conjunction with Microsoft’s Partners in Learning “to help Michigan students understand how to plan their work lives and career opportunities amid the implications of the global economy.” Specifically, students ask and attempt to answer the following “challenge” questions: What am I going to do with my life? What is the world of work like? What will I need to succeed? What’s next for me?
Those are compelling questions for sure and Mr. Currie gave his presentation in the context of 21st Century Learning Skills. However, are those questions really anything new? Do we see them afresh in the spotlight of the future? Ask Gary Stager about his take on 21st Century Learning and he’ll probably tell you something like those are nothing new. Ask Will Richardson, Dave Warlick, or Wes Fryerand they’ll paint a slightly different picture. Regardless of where you (or they) land, the spectrum seems to support a deliberate and reflective approach to purposeful, relevant, engaging, and meaningful education. Additionally, if you haven’t read Alan November, Scott McLeod, Mike Parent, Karl Fisch, George Siemens, Clay Burell, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Jon Becker, and others to get a flavor of the varying perspectives, you must and soon. Feel free to contribute “must reads” of your own in a comment.
The TxDLA has wrapped up but not before Gary Stager called himself a crackpot and gave a thought provoking presentation. The crackpot reference to himself came in the context of one who proffered so-called “crazy” ideas. I don’t know about crazy, but he definitely has some serious upstream opinions. He gave us a serious drink from the Stager firehose. In fact I’m still processing some of those ideas and deciding where I land. People like Gary Stager are like that, though. One minute I’m nodding my head in complete agreement and the next I’ve got the mental brakes pressed to the floor. Regardless, he’s a passionate educator who will leave you thinking.
Here’s some ideas from his presentation as they are filtered through my processing and frenetic note-taking. I have added the categories above the bullets for reflection more than anything else.
Stager cites a quote from Daniel Hillis’ Pattern on the Stone book [extended slightly for context]: “The computer…is a device that accelerates and extends our process of thought. It is an imagination machine, which starts with the ideas we put into it and takes them farther than we could ever have taken them on our own.”
If your classroom questions can be answered with a Google search, then let them.
Learning occurs in a community of practice where expertise is distributed.
Eliminate self serving and schizophrenic practices and policies.
We shouldn’t think of education as a competition.
Be open to emerging technologies and decentralizing tools.
The tools don’t matter unless they get in the way.
Collaboration begins at home.
We have operated on the SDSU curriculum for too long (Sit Down and Shut Up).
He routine meets kids who have never had a meaning conversation with an adult.
For faculty, collect the experts you want to study with.
Create a community of practice.
We should use technology to create authentic experiences in more domains in ways never possible before.
Stager doesn’t really care for Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind and wrote an article called The Worst Book of the 21st Century – a review.
It would seem to be a little incongruous for me to have a few posts ranting against the corporate influences in our school and then write so much about a business book. Essentially, I think we must look beyond the rigid structure of American education and begin the discussions that will take us there. That’s the take-away of Pink’s book for me even though Pink never intended this book for education.
ISTE should take a stand on how computers should work.
He said something like this very quickly and got a smattering of applause. I’m not sure where he was going with this, but to generally discount the efforts of ISTE leaves me cold.
An educational revolution will not result from web 2.0.
Maybe not completely, but it certainly could provide the spark. Indeed, many have suggested it already has.
Also, I think he may have thrown a backhanded insult at those of us who consider ourselves bloggers for education, saying we are standing outside the circle of expertise. He seemed to contradict himself when he asserted that a way to join the community of practice was to learn from our [experienced] elders and emulate their behavior and practices. I’m not sure what to do with that. Maybe I should ask Karl Fisch, Wes Fryer, Alan November, George Siemens, David Thornburg, Dave Warlick, or any of the other educational leaders that write on The Pulse blog.
There’s nothing new about 21st Century Skills. They are simply the skills that rich people wanted their kids to have in the 20th century.
I would like to see a little more from him here than a simple dismissive attack.
Every course should be taught as liberal art.
He didn’t spend enough time here to give me a good picture and I’d like to know more.
More about Gary Stager so you can check it out for yourself…