T4T Conversation Summary—Day 2

So we’ve made it through Day 2 of our conversation on teaching for tomorrow with digital change experts Adam Garry and Meg Ormiston, authors of Teaching the iGeneration and Creating a Digital Rich Classroom respectively, and I’m loving the time that we’re spending together!

Every time that I stop by the conversation, I have my own thinking challenged, that’s for sure.  And that’s what I love the most about the Web 2.0 world:  I get to learn from people that I’ve never even met.

Too cool.

If you haven’t had a chance to join us in Voicethread yet and you’re looking for a way to catch up on the conversation quickly, consider checking out this summary of yesterday’s interactions. 

Also, here are some highlights from today’s discussion:

Steve Kabachia—a teacher of English Language Arts and Humanities in Central Alberta—started an interesting strand on the very first slide of our presentation when he asked how teachers working with Web 2.0 and mobile technologies in the classroom can best deal with the support and/or interference from stakeholders. 

That’s an interesting question, isn’t it?  In my experiences as a teacher using technology, the only given is that there is ALWAYS going to be support AND interference from stakeholders! 

Sometimes that’s the well-intentioned principal who spends a ton of money on the wrong tool and other times that’s the parent who refuses to embrace the potential in lessons built from digital opportunities. 

So what lessons do y’all have for Steve?  What steps do you take to build both awareness and support for new teaching practices in your buildings?

Paul—otherwise known as Mr. Monkey—started one of the most important strands in our entire conversation on the second slide when he argues that the biggest difference that he sees in his classroom today as compared to his classroom yesterday is between the ability levels of high and low performing students. 

He wonders how we can use technology to improve the basic literacy skills that so many of our students are currently lacking.  Our worry shouldn’t be with those who are already academically successful, but instead with those who are struggling to succeed. 

Does your school get that balance right when they’re talking about teaching for tomorrow?

So often, our conversations are full of AMAZING activities that would extend the learning of even our highest achieving students—but will the same opportunities improve the skills and abilities of students who our schools have traditionally failed to reach?

 

On slide four, Hether—an art teacher working with digital tools—raises a point that can’t be emphasized enough in conversations about teaching with technology:  The key is finding the right technology tool to go along with the right content and the right learning outcomes. 

When people make poor tool-centric choices—trying to use Skype to collaborate with classes too many time zones away, trying to use blogs for ongoing collaborative conversations between kids—their projects are disasters. 

Her ideas are extended on slide five by Dan Greenberg—a PD provider in Houston—who goes as far as to argue that conversations about new tools might just be hindering our efforts to rethink teaching and learning in our classrooms when he writes, “Are the tools not allowing us to have conversations about effective teaching?”

Great points, aren’t they?  And important reminders for anyone wanting to be digital change agents in their buildings.

So often,  we forget that tools and technology haven’t changed the fundamental skills and behaviors that help a teacher to be successful.  Why hasn’t that message gotten across to more people?  Why do you think tools remain at the center of so many conversations about teaching for tomorrow?

The strand of the day, however, was started on slide seven by my TLN hero Renee Moore—a remarkably passionate educator who has spent her entire career working in the high needs schools of the Mississippi Delta—who wondered whether our principals had the kinds of specific skills and training to effectively spot good teaching in the 21st Century when she wrote:

Highly engaged student learning activities do look messy, and sometimes the evaluator has to be de-briefed by the teacher to really understand what s/he just saw!

Unfortunately, not all teachers get that opportunity, and some have been unfairly chastised, even punished which then intimidates others from even trying. Is better or more specific training of administrators the answer?

Her thoughts were echoed on slide eight by Mr. Monkey, who wrote:

I find myself constantly feeling pressure to abandon attempts to reinforce "21st century skills" (even though many of them have been critical for decades) because my effectiveness is measured by a different yardstick. 

How do we motivate teachers to teach in this new way without new assessments?

Great points, huh?  And points that really have me worried.  There’s such dissonance between what we’re SAYING we want students to know and be able to do and what we’re EXPECTING kids to know and be able to do at the end of the school year.

Has anyone had any luck in bridging this saying/expecting gap in your schools, districts or states?  What actions can we take in our own little worlds to push for more responsible evaluation of both teachers and students?

 

If you haven’t stopped by our conversation yet, you should!  Here’s the direct link.  I guarantee that you’ll learn something.

If you have stopped by already, here’s your day three challenge:  Rather than posting something new to the conversation today, go in and find a comment made by another participant to respond to.  It could be something that made you think.  It could be something you completely disagree with.  It could be something that you want to know more about.

Make tomorrow a day of interaction by interacting with an existing participant.  After all, that’s what good collaborative dialogue looks like in action, right?

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