Sparks

April 17, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Games-based learning, Links, Planning, Professional Development, Resources, Shift | 1 Comment

It’s been my feeling and thought for a long time that we need to change the way we do schooling. Back in the early 90s while visiting friends in West Hollywood and driving with these friends and my daughter in a convertible through the hills, I was day-dreaming about moving there and establishing my own school for the children of wealthy Hollywood artists (they have money and are progressive thinkers, right?) Regardless, Hollywood is a ripe place for encouraging daydreams. My school would have many elements of a Montessori school and also contain the most current technology, which was relatively limited compared to what I use and imagine these days. Yesterday I was reminded of that daydream  after two of the best days in recent years at work. I thought about and discussed with colleagues why the past two days were so inspiring and fulfilling and we concluded that it was because we had time to discuss and imagine how our already good school could grow and improve.

The problem is that it was an isolated event, and not just at this school, but rare in every school I have taught and worked in. It was successful because:

  • The “workshops” were led by our consultant from Rubicon Atlas, Stephane Keller. Stephane didn’t run through a planned presentation lock-step. He had a plan but was responsive to going off in directions that the group needed and did it with grace and style. Like a good teacher, he helped us see what we are doing well and where we want to go next, where our challenges are and how begin to meet those challenges.
  • The 2 days were set up to allow teams of teachers to come in during regular school days for hour blocks. It would have been better to have more time, but I also think that sometimes those days in school without students present are great for idea generation, but those ideas often stayed locked away in that day. Having these sessions occurring during our school day promoted keeping the students and reality of our school days present in mind.
  • The core curriculum team met each morning before the hour sessions began and at the end of the day. Being part of this team allowed me to have discussions with colleagues that I often don’t get time to talk with. It seems we need to plan the time and topics to allow these discussions to begin. As a tech facilitation specialist many people get caught on the word “technology” and can’t see my position as that of a learning specialist who can facilitate use of technology tools for student and professional learning and creativity.

The key to continue generating sparks and get a fire glowing will be preventing the ideas and conversations to stay locked in the past and to continue to facilitate those conversations, keep them alive.

Here are my favorite visions of the direction we need to go to recreate schools from:
Bob Sprankle and his BLC09 Presentation

Kim Cofino and ISB’s 21st Century Learning Wiki

Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis Flat Classroom Conference

Scotland’s exploration of games-based learning and Ollie Bray and Ewan McIntosh

Stephen Heppell

Apple’s Challenge Based Learning

Heidi Hayes Jacob’s Curriculum21

Silvia Tolisano’s blog Langwitches

In conclusion, one key element of my dream school is to build in time and place for the educators in a school to meet and share ideas and, most importantly, develop and realize those ideas.

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  1. […] exist. This is due in part to an interesting reaction I had to an occurrence this week. Last week I blogged about a great 2-days at work where we had the time and opportunity to communicate with colleagues as part of a PD experience. I […]


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