Collaborating with colleagues from beyond our school walls helps us become stronger, better, and more innovative educators. As Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind…” To that I would add, “minds from other places.”
I am attending the 2015 International Society for Technology Educators(ISTE) annual conference where it’s a bit of a zoo — a crazy, good, really busy, intellectually stimulating zoo — with people to meet, activities to learn about, lectures to hear, things to play with, information to process, and much more. Collaboration is in the air.
Another school year started this week, right after a relaxed three-day Labor Day weekend. But my three-days were more special than most, because I spent the time with my thirty-something daughter. As I thought about beginning the school year my mind kept wandering back to the years the two of us started school together, she as a student and me as a teacher.
I listened to my daughter, now a physician, talk about her work and her life, marveling at her competence, eagerness to learn, empathy, discipline, and, yes, her sense of fun. More than once during our conversations I thought about the teachers who helped her develop and strengthen these skills, people who took her interests into consideration — as well as the required topics.
A preschool teacher encouraged my daughter to get up and keep going after a fall or a spat, and her kindergarten teacher recognized her love of books but also reminded her to relax and play. In second grade her teacher came to the rescue when my daughter wanted to bring a book to read at recess, and this same gifted educator suggested that she “become an author” and write her own books.
Once a week in second grade each child was encouraged think of a hard word and learn how to spell it. Boy was my husband surprised one day, as he worked on his public health policy dissertation, when our daughter, age seven, came up to his desk and happily spelled epidemiology. She told him that she liked the way the word looked when she saw it on his pages and asked to know more about what it meant. I just know that teacher suggested that she ask her dad for more information. Continue reading “Teachers Helped My Daughter Become Who She Is Today”→
Over the past 10 days I have attended multiple, jam-packed professional development events. I’m beginning to think of it in reality show lingo as my extreme professional development experience, because I’ve encountered so many colleagues along with ideas, hands-on strategies, learning theories, and thoughtful approaches, all focused on becoming better teachers, collaborators, and learners in the 21st Century. One over-arching idea applies to all of my activities: learning, unlearning, and relearning are now routine. Anyone not comfortable with these three concepts — connected and in tandem — needs to get acquainted with them ASAP.
I’m reminded of a quote from futurist Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the future are not those that cannot read or write. They are those that can not learn, unlearn, and relearn.“
My extreme adventure started about 10 days ago when I presented in the Virginia Shenandoah Valley at the Virginia Association of Press Women. I described how technology has transformed the way we all learn and how specific content is now less important than our skill at discovering information, evaluating it, and using it well. The digital content is out there for everyone to find, I told the group. The role of adults and teachers is to ensure that as we teach one area of content we also ensure that children are developing the skills to recognize, evaluate, and use quality information.
I drove home on Saturday and left again on Sunday for the annual AIMS Technology Retreat on the Maryland Eastern Shore.
Below I’ve shared some of the interesting points from Bill Gates’ education presentation at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference. The foundation is no less energized in the area of 21 Century and digital learning than it is in international health.
Gates believes that we have a big opportunity for change over the next ten years.
Teaching is not about access to knowledge — it’s about making the material relevant and connecting the learning with information that will nourish minds. Oh, and creating more knowledge…
Judgment and critical evaluation skills (about content) will be paramount.
[My note: This goes for kids, adolescents, adults, and seniors.]
Over the course of a school year I often chat with adults about their digital kids. Most parents are enthusiastic, perhaps even astounded about the digital changes that occur every day in their lives. Yet, they also admit to feeling confused, worried, and even a bit befuddled. Often I find parents reflecting on how committed parents — who understand the importance of these digital changes — are supposed to keep track of the constantly changing digital landscape?
As a 22 year veteran in the educational technology world, I like to sift through articles, seek out references and discover resources that can help people — especially the parents of my students — understand more about the digital world. I read articles, watch videos, listen to stories, and keep an eye out for interesting research. It makes sense to share them on a blog. When I think about a post, I ask the question, “If I were a parent of a digital kid, what might I want to learn about?”
This week I am in Philadelphia attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference along with more than 15,000 technology educators and school administrators — all of us thinking about how students and, yes, their parents and teachers, learn in the fast-changing digital world.
The exhibits feature hundreds of vendors (36 long rows in a vast hall), and we can choose to attend an array of keynotes, presentations, meetings, poster displays, student presentations, and demonstrations.
I have just read a colleague’s post, Lessons of a Broken Window, over at The Learning Curve blog. The author, Chris Shriver, describes her son’s persistence as he practices throwing a baseball, even though a few of those pitches have broken windows. He has not let the occasional problem or temporary roadblock keep him from learning and fine-tuning his throwing skill as he seeks to become more expert at pitching.
I am spending three days with technology colleagues from a wide range of schools, and all of us are learning more about the ever-increasing technology tools in our lives. At a conference, held on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the goal is to discover, share, and learn as much as we can. We are continuously modeling appropriate behavior, discovering and exploring new technology devices and websites, mastering new skills, and figuring out how to manage our online social media personas rather than letting those personas manage us. All of this information will return to school with us, helping students learn and supporting parents as they confront complex and confusing digital parenting issues. Continue reading “Collaboration and Technology on the Maryland Eastern Shore”→