To help encourage conversations about the integration of new ideas, being open to 'newness', and shifts in thinking, our topic/question of the week is: Could this be done in your school: Parents will support administrators who promote a school that will allow teachers - who are well versed in the effective use of specific digital resources and are willing to give up classroom/curriculum time - to go into classrooms to help initiate, implement, and sustain a system of learning that wants the students to ask better questions, develop deeper curiosity, and produce stronger evidence that backs up their self-generated theses?
As we prepared for yet another (is it going to stop?) snowstorm, I hope that everyone was able to find some time to relax and regroup before the last week before vacation. We had a very nice weekend - dinner out with friends Friday evening, celebrating Katie's 40th on Saturday with the kids, and catching up on some reading. We enjoyed a low-key Sunday with the kids - playing, attending a birthday party for one of Gray's friends, and baking before a family dinner.
After a very fulfilling #DLDMedfield on Friday, I want to thank the entire Blake staff, and particularly those who presented, for their participation to help make the day successful. I heard great feedback from many of you throughout the day and also after the day as well. I have been processing the different sessions, interactions, and ideas that were presented and shared. My notes, 'take-aways', and mindsets are varied, but they do have a centering theme. In the spirit of transparency, modeling, and sharing (all elements that I believe are at the core of our values at Blake), here are some of the thoughts that are bouncing around in my head (please forgive the informal nature)...
- Are we incorporating reflection into our work on a regular basis? If so, what does that look like? If not, why and how could it be incorporated?
- Hearing from the students, both at Blake and MHS, they are looking for more responsibility - what does that look like? Are we providing students with enough opportunities to be responsible? And, what are the 'safety nets' we can put in place to encourage responsibility, while also allowing for mistakes to take place?
- Greg K's keynote - really thinking about what 'balance' looks like - it's not 'either/or' with technology, and we need to think about the meaning of integration (blending and fusing). We should take the proverbial 'steps back' and help each other reflect upon the goals we have for our students on a frequent basis, and then challenge each other and ourselves as to how advancements in understanding and strategies can be blended into our work. It is important and we are remiss if we do not move in this direction.
- How do we evaluate our work and 'measure' success or learning? (This is not an easy one) A few thoughts on this...opportunities for learning, flexibility of thinking, upper levels of the SAMR (modification and redefinition) experiences, collaboration, attainment of objectives and learning goals, personalized learning, 'talking about learning without knowing they are talking about learning', and engagement
- Traditions and relevance - If the answer to why we are doing something is 'We've always done it that way', we need to push for a better answer. By the same token, if the answer is 'Because it's new', we also need to push for a better answer.
- Digital Citizenry vs Citizenry and Digital Curricula vs Curricula - if these concepts are truly integrated, do we need 'Digital'? If we are staying current and relevant, I wonder if the 'digital' label hinders more than helps?
- Sharing successes, challenges, and yes failures is critical - for students and teachers alike. This is where growth and understanding comes from.
- Along the lines of 'sharing', I so enjoyed having the opportunity to learn alongside and from educators outside of Medfield. We should be doing more of this - let me know how I can help facilitate.
Each of these thoughts can branch off into divergent conversations, and it is important that we work together to blend them into the focal points of our students at Blake. As such I am sharing three posts that resonated with me in the context of #DLDMedfield and the vision we are working towards for the Blake community...
Why Even ‘Good’ Schools Benefit From Trying Fresh Ideas
by Katrina Schwartz (@Kschwart) in MindShift
This post highlights the thinking of schools that are breaking off from the 'norm'. I commend and applaud the efforts of these schools that are working to find something 'better' for their students. The project-based learning goals affirm the work that I believe we are working towards here at Blake.
"“There’s got to be something else to make this stuff stick a little better,” Walach said. “If my goal is to have my students pass my final at the end of the year, then maybe I should keep teaching math as we are right now. But if we want students to be able to apply math to the real world, it’s not working.” He’s tired of watching students grind through school just because they know they have to show colleges a committed, consistent record."
"...the teaching team is adamant that this idea is replicable in public schools elsewhere if leaders identify likely teachers, give them time to dream and plan, and make sure the program is teacher-driven. They’re clear that every school has its own culture and needs that will dictate what a new program looks like. “You can’t take a model and transpose it onto a different community or a different school, but it’s important to experiment with alternative learning environments,”"
The Impact Of Technology On Curiosity
by Terry Heick (@terryheick) in TeachThought
The impact that technology has and will have on our students is a question that does not yet have an answer, but is one that we need to keep in mind. Heick's post references a study from 2009 on curiosity by Jeong Kang and offers an open perspective on the blind spots that technology has. Technology is not the answer, but is rather a means to an end. I particularly like the idea of working towards the 'ecology of curiosity and learning', and using technology to help us all get there, accentuating and furthering that ecology.
"...via technology, rather than 6 “content areas,” students see a dizzying digital kaleidoscope of data and stimuli at any given moment, things can unravel–or at least accelerate–very quickly."
"Curiosity, likely an evolutionary adaptive, is a raw appetite for information that helped us survive. But that same aggressive appetite for information and experience changes in the face of information abundance, and not always for the better...Even an “on-task” student must navigate media, communities, and social rules that churn endlessly. This creates, among other things, a dynamic digital—and thus cognitive—environment in which users have to constantly be aware of what they do and do not know, which sounds interesting until you realize that the technology is designed for engagement. So then, designed to pull you rather than let you, muting the need to be self-aware."
"Perhaps then as educators we should start there by creating compelling visualizations, narratives, and dialogues about what there is to know–what’s worth understanding, and why. About the iterative nature of wisdom, the very real limitations of technology, the interdependence of family and community, and the crucial and uniquely human ability to ask the right question at the right time."
Day 80 - “Help Desk is Not a Real World Simulation, Help Desk is the Real World” - Cat Hoyt - BHS Senior
post by Cat Hoyt
We were fortunate on Friday to have students from Burlington High School's Student Help Desk. Cat Hoyt is a senior at BHS and her post and video are wonderful examples of thoughtful integration of technology. I encourage everyone to take a look at this clip and think about the potential implications of similar projects for our students.
Being connected, open to new ideas, and reflective about our work are important practices to exercise. As I look at the week ahead and those that follow, I hope that we can work to stay relevant, while finding a balance with tradition - not just with the integration of technology, but with the discussions and endeavors we are involved in as a staff and community. A growth mindset is critical and we must always reflect as to how our practices, both explicit and implicit, encourage and foster that growth. We need to start with our beliefs and then find and build upon those tools (technology and non-technology related) that will help us get there. We will continue to look at these as a staff - on a day-to-day basis, in department discussions, at faculty meetings, and with our students. I look forward to these conversations, and am once again encouraged by what lies ahead.
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