This happens to me so frequently that I want to write briefly about it. In our age of information overload and the ability to have a global network of friends and colleagues (many of whom I’ve never met) I find the glut of information and flattening world manageable due to my connections to friends and other individuals I follow.
For example, I recently read a friend’s listing of Nick Bilton’s book, I Live in the Future: & Here’s How It Works in GoodReads. Goodreads sends me an email when someone I’m connected to posts a new book listing. I downloaded the book to my iPad via Kindle and started reading (because I’m on vacation and have more time to read.) Mr. Bilton writes about managing information overload via his online network of friends who recommend books, articles, blog posts, etc via online networking and email. This hits home because the next day…
In Facebook, I checked in and found (again) several great blog posts recommended by my friend Silvia. More and more, Facebook is becoming a resource for more than personal status updates from friends as I follow schools, organizations and individuals who recommend informational media. For example I “follow” my school’s IT Department (at IT Dept. @ International School of Prague) and Seth Godin.
Last, through daily checkins with Twitter I find on just the first page of posts many great links, blog posts, articles, videos, etc. Twitter can lead to information overload if you are following the right people. I also use an aggregator that feeds me current posts on my favorite blogs.
All I’m saying is that I frequently see a thread flowing through my personal information feed and this time it flowed from Chris’s recommendation (which he didn’t have to personally send to me) to the text in Bilton’s book reflecting my experience, and the following morning reading via Silvia that I found inspiring and thought-provoking. Left alone with random searches and actual print resources, I would miss out on so much more than what is delivered to me daily.
PS: One challenge I do face is reciprocating, and here is a good podcast from Dean Shareski, “Sharing: The Moral Imperative” on that topic.
I’ve only blogged once in the last 6 months due to location and occupation changes. I spent 6 weeks on vacation doing virtually nothing online and then began my new position and life in Prague as a grade 3 teacher at the International School of Prague. I’m still pretty much still in the honeymoon Cultural Shock phase due to my fantastic students, wonderful apartment and new friends and, I am in Prague.
But I am tired. After 3 years as a tech integration specialist, it feels great to be a classroom teacher again with my tribe of willing learners. However, classroom teaching can be exhausting even if you’ve been in the same school for years and I haven’t had the time or mental capacity to write or read blogs, completely missed the K12 Online Conference and the Global Education Conference as well as many Classroom2.0 sessions (thankfully all 3 are archived). I haven’t been tweeting or following tweets. I haven’t seen much of Prague either since the weather became too cold for long walks. But that’s about to change as I’ve been through the first trimester, report cards, parent conferences, portfolio collection and assembly, I think I have a grasp of the curriculum and have 3 weeks of vacation stretching before me.
In addition to the regular curriculum, my students have posted two written pieces and a word cloud on their individual pages on our class website and they regularly extend learning and skill practice (in school and at home) using various webgames and subscription sites. They individually recorded in Garageband, an oral reading of an originally written piece for a Voicethread related to an author visit. Most exciting is our participation in “A Week in the Life”, a pilot elementary-level Flat Classroom Project.
So, after catching my breath I am looking forward to reading, writing and listening to online conference presentations! In the five months of school remaining I am looking forward to integrating into my classroom:
- Final projects for “A Week in the Life”
- Use of Scratch and podcasting
- Connecting regularly with our buddy classes in Canada and Tokyo
- Connecting to Around the World With 80 Schools
- Connecting to Teddy Bears Around the World
They will all seamlessly integrate with and enrich our units of inquiry on Sound and our Host County/City as well as maths, reading and writing. I’m also looking forward to again reading (even after vacation) professional texts and favorite blogs. Why do I care about sharing with and learning from others? Dean Shareski sums it up for me in his K12Online Keynote. It’s so nice to have reached a point where I again feel a sense of familiarity combined with excitement about the possibilities ahead!
Apple’s VP of Education, John Couch closed the conference by discussing the challenges that we face in creating change and growth in education:
- Our current mode in education is like a steam engine pulling horse carriages
- Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. (Steve Jobs)
- Technology as a tool v. technology as environment
- Substitution v. transformation
Whenever I feel homesick and miss my family and lifelong friends, I remind myself of the opportunities that I have had since becoming an overseas educator. This conference was one of those opportunities. The participation of students, infusion of learning through the music/arts, brilliant presenters and the location in a beautiful, enchanting city and a school that has a vision for the future made it one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had.
My questions to keep in mind:
- How can I assist and challenge each student to learn and grow?
- How can I assist in transforming schools?
- How can I inspire and help other educators to learn and grow?
I have thought of teachers as conductors before, but have to admit I hadn’t given much thought to conductors and their styles of leadership. Posted below is Itay Talgam’s TED Talk that demonstrates a portion of what he shared.
- People want to be tested to the extreme, engaged
- You go on roller coasters, but only if they are sound and you feel you can trust that you can push and be tested but you will be safe
- When you cross the line, you need to trust that someone will be there.
- Above self-actualization is self-transcendence
- Control of the environment, climate should be there but there should also exist flexibility, pliancy. It’s not a matter of pulling and releasing a rope.
After Itay spoke, a string quartet preformed and spoke with and interacted with Itay about performing as a group. Then ISP teacher/musicians performed improv jazz and also performed with the string quartet. Itay facilitated discussion and demonstration of performance leadership and improvisation. I was left with the question, What type of leader am I? In the classroom? With colleagues?
Stay in the question(s): Reflections from the Apple Leadership Conference2010 (Part 4/6)
The first half of Saturday consisted of 7 Apple Talks, along the lines of TED Talks. Two of those were from ISPrague staff members and listening to them left me more excited to be joining a school where I would have colleagues of this caliber.
Links and quotes:
- ACOT Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow Today - moving from instruction to construction
- SAMR, Ruben Puentedura, Technology use continuum, Transformation not substitution
- Need to teach collaborative writing to prepare students for working in the future
- Visit the Alamo in Second Life
- Quest to Learn School in NYC – games based learning aligned to standards. Merging traditional and new illiteracies
- Students learning empathy and financial skills through KIVA fundraising accounts management- giving students the opportunity to learn economics as well as experience empathy and make human connections
- Student films- don’t always have to produce skilled filmmaking, but the story needs to be from the heart
- Cyber Security- keep the conversation with students open and on-going, circulate relevant books to staff, parents, students to promote conversation
- Full Sail University Online
Stay in the question(s): Reflections from the Apple Leadership Conference2010 (Part 2/6)
I re-read Clay Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, when I saw he would be appearing at the conference. During his presentation he shared that when trying to create change and growth, try many small things and if they fail, they are small failures. Then go with the ones that succeed, build on those and don’t sweat small failures. Don’t try to enact a big plan that may fail big. He cited Ewan McIntosh’s efforts in East Lothian, Scotland as shown on the community site, edubuzz.org. To me, Ewan McIntosh has always been right up there with Marco Torres.
Clay also met with the students who presented on Friday evening and discussed with them their learning and thoughts on school, the classroom and learning. He then sat on stage with them our last day and held a panel discussion that we could listen to and participate in. Clay was able to elicit valuable, sometimes funny, responses from the students (grades 5-12).
- Doing small projects on one big topic stick in your mind better
- Teachers can show us rather than tell us everything, Let us do things to learn.
- Prefer when work is connected to real life, teachers facilitate, freedom to choose tool to express ourselves and show our learning
- We like ISPrague because of the tools available to us, not just tech but the teachers as tools also. One student said, “I feel taken seriously here.”
- In a group project we usually have to use more than one app, everyone has their specialty and we help each other.
- Math- it would be better if there were many ways to learn, some absorb it and others need to learn differently. Split us up by how we learn and choose to learn. Connect the learning to real life more.
- Allow situations where students can learn from one another, share what they know and what they learned from the subject, rather than the teacher always teaching- sometimes it’s easier to learn from another student.
- Sometimes your teacher tells you to try one way, and you don’t want to try it because it sounds too easy or obvious, then you try it and it works and you get annoyed because they were right.
Stay in the question(s): Reflections from the Apple Leadership Conference2010 (Part 2/6)
Marco Torres, was another highlight of the conference. This was not a surprise as I attended 2 of his workshops at BLC09 last summer and soaked up his ideas and attitude. Marco is an educator with an open mind; when faced with roadblocks or reluctant students he stays in the question of what can be done to improve this situation, how can we allow this student to learn and grow? Further, at BLC09 Marco brought along some of his students, who co-presented with him.
I can’t hide how brilliant I find Marco Torres. But it’s more than his ideas. He is still working with students, he’s not an “expert presenter” even though his presentations are 100% useful and inspiring and he shares anecdotes where solutions are found for students who are at a dead end and now flourishing due to simple, obvious solutions.
Here are a few of his statements that keep rolling around in my mind:
- Stay in the question.
- International used to be a sexy thing, now it’s mandatory.
- Do you love what you do? You have to.
- Question for teachers, Could I have looked up everything you told me in Google?
- Nouns v. Verbs- schools need to be more about verbs
- Never ask questions you can look up. (Einstein)
- Traits of Innovators: see, associate, inquire, collaborate, take risks
- What kind of learner are you? More important is what type of producer are you?
- Include Who we love into our learning.
- An educated person is someone who is resourceful and connected
Next year I will be joining the staff at the International School of Prague and so I was invited to attend the recent Apple Leadership Conference hosted there. I have read and heard that Apple Conferences are well organized and well worth attending so I was excited to be there and also meet many of my new colleagues. The biggest thought that stuck to me was Marco Torres stating, “Stay in the question.” I would like to share about the Apple Leadership Conference along that theme; the ideas and questions that arose from the presentations and events.
The first highlight of the Conference was listening to students from the International School of Prague present their classroom projects and learning on the first night of the conference and later sharing in a panel discussion with Clay Shirky at the end of the conference. This reminded me of my recent virtual attendance in the Flat Classroom mini-conference in which I worked with students and how much I gained from that experience. Another example, while a teacher in at Horne Street School in Dover, NH in 2006, I co-presented with a group of my grade 3 students in a district workshop where my students prepared and presented a guide they made on how to research using the IIM Research process . The audience was the entire K-12 district staff and the feedback after was that the student presentation was the highlight of the half-day auditorium workshop. I now think that educators should never hold a conference or workshop without students present.
So my first question is, Why do we so rarely consult the students and regard their responses as to how to best educate and facilitate learning in our classrooms and schools?