Dear Blake Families:
With one week left before vacation, hopefully everyone found some time to breathe and gear up for a busy week. After celebrating Katie's birthday as a family Friday night, we enjoyed a relatively uneventful weekend with sports and friends. Sunday afternoon we got outside for some sledding - a real treat for the kids!
I want to once again thank our staff for their participation and professionalism during Digital Learning Day this past Friday. And, a very special thanks to Diane Horvath, Neal Sonnenberg, and all of our Blake presenters - I really do appreciate their 'putting themselves out there' and helping colleagues. Professional development is critical in our profession and I do believe, as a field, we have made great strides in determining what effective training and growth looks like. As both a facilitator and participant, two questions should always guide our work: What is it that we want for our students? How can this professional development apply to my realm? Both questions and subsequent answers are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are intimately intertwined. The posts below are pertinent to our work with technology integration and, from a wider lens, our core beliefs about professional development.
3 Things We Need to Remember for Every Professional Development
by Steven Andersen (@web20 classroom)
This post by Steven Anderson, Director of Instructional Technology for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, is a reflection about what we need to keep in mind when planning workshops: "There is no doubt that teachers need PD. And there is no doubt there is meaningless PD out there. But we can begin to make it better and have a greater impact on our teaching and learning." Anderson argues that if we keep three principles in mind (K.I.S.S. - 'Keep it Simple Stupid'; Reflect, Reflect, Reflect; Play), we will be on the right track. I believe the same is true for the work we do in the classroom with our students.
Why I Want You to Steal My Ideas
by Seth Godin (@sethgodin)
We are experiencing a significant shift, for both students and educators, in regards to our approach to the 'sharing of learning' and Godin emphasizes the principle that 'idea sharing' is critical for the process of creativity and innovation, encouraging others to steal his ideas: "Please don’t steal my car. If you drive away with it, I won’t have it any more, which is a real hassle. Please don’t steal my identity or my reputation either. Neither travels well, and all the time you’re using it, you’re degrading something that belongs to me. But my ideas? Sure, yes, please, by all means, take them."
Godin makes the comparison between a patent system and a 'connection economy', founded on the ideas of coordination, sharing, and trust: "The connection economy steps in just as the glory days of the industrial age begin to fade. The connection economy rewards coordination, sharing and trust. All three of which are built on our species’ unique ability to steal ideas. When two people meet on the dance floor, an exchange of ideas takes place. My move, your move. When two people play chess, they each get a little smarter. And when a chef joins another in the kitchen, the unspoken exchange of ideas moves the state of the art forward." This is true for our students as well, but it is important to emphasize this is not the encouragement of plagiarism. Giving credit where credit is due and 'passing on the good word' is essential to the process: "The amazing thing about giving credit, though, is you never run out. Like ideas, the more credit is shared, the more it can be worth, to the giver and to the recipient...With the ability to steal comes responsibility. Not just the responsibility to synthesize something better than what you started with, but the obligation to relentlessly seek out the next thing worth stealing. We’ve created a bucket line. Our economy is a long line of people handing ideas up and down the line, improving and customizing at each step. When you stop seeking and merely consume, you let us all down." The onus and responsibility/obligation to synthesize ideas is something we all can aspire towards and try to foster in our students as well.
When It Comes to Education, Let's Be The Jetsons Not The Flintstones
post by Gregg Behr in Huffington Post
As an educator and father of three children, Behr's post resonated with me as I reflect upon what it is I want for both the children of Medfield and in my own household. Our mission pushes us in this regard and it is important to be forward-thinking: "For my daughter's sake, I hope it's true that she won't graduate from a traditional brick-and-mortar high school 16 years from now, just as I did 20 years ago. Not because she's untalented and incapable, but rather because her class (and her classroom) has moved on from an Industrial Age-approach of teacher-to-student instruction to one that activates her learning and rewards her mastery of skills differently. That shouldn't mean that she won't be surrounded by all sorts of teachers, mentors and caring adults along the way -- she'll need them. Instead, it should also mean that she's immersed in settings in and out of school -- such as libraries and museums -- that interest, test and provoke her to learn."
Holding on to the essential core principles of education, I particularly liked the idea that teachers should 'provoke' learning and of our role to continually 'remake' learning as well: "While still building kids' skills in the tried-and-true subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic, today's innovators -- like those in the Kids+Creativity Network -- are simultaneously attending to learning that helps kids develop critical thinking, tenacity, and resourcefulness. They're thinking more like the Jetsons and less like the Flintstones. So, goodbye "yabba dabba doo" and hello Elroy! Our kids deserve that future."
They Loved Your G.P.A. Then Saw Your Tweets
by Natasha Singer in The New York Times
As I continue to push all of us to move forward with our growth processes, it is critical that we recognize the challenges and potential 'downfalls' that these tools present for students and adults alike. Twitter has been the most powerful and influential source for my own professional growth over the last two years, and I believe it holds great promise for our students as well. However, as invested adults, we have a responsibility to teach students to be safe and responsible. Singer's piece is a great reminder of the work we must do to educate and model appropriate, respectful, and meaningful communication.
Technology is not the 'be all, end all' or panacea to the educational challenges we face, and none of the tools/techniques we learned on Friday can replace what is most essential - caring, invested, and professional educators. However, I firmly believe (and have seen it first-hand) that the thoughtful integration of technology can enhance, remake, and provoke the learning for our students (and educators, for that matter). I am excited to continue to learn with all of you on this continually evolving path.
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