Friday, March 11, 2011

Something OLD, Something NEW, Something Borrowed, Something True

Over the last little while I have been trying to give some focus to assistive technology.  This is a big challenge for us, and it is something I think we need to build a systematic approach to in our district. The potential for assistive technology is great for our neediest students, obviously, but potential exists for technology to enhance the learning of ANY student! 

With respect to meeting the needs of students, it is convention week, and there is an awful lot of talk this week about ensuring we meet the 21st century needs of our students.  I made the point in a presentation to GPRC students this week that an effective teacher could meet prepare their students for the 21st century without using ANY electronic technology!  Effective OLD ways of teaching are still valuable in our classrooms.  With respect to engaging students, and making education relevant however, ed tech can certainly be used in NEW ways to make a difference for kids.

I had some fun this week spending an afternoon helping facilitate a session for Zone 1 school administrators to help them build their personal learning networks using Twitter, blogs, and shared Google documents.  It was an excellent session, and compared to the recent sessions in Edmonton and Calgary, it looks to me like our adminstrators took to things very very well!  We BORROWED the NRLC lab at PWA to deliver this workshop, and the learning that was shared in those 3 short hours was pretty impressive.

In one of his presentations at convention today, Rick Wormeli mentioned that we need to focus our teaching and be more mindful of what we know works and what we know about kids.  How TRUE that is.  We know kids need to move to help them learn.  Let's let them.  We know they need timely and specific descriptive feedback to learn.  Let's give it to them.  We know they need to make mistakes and learn how to recover from them.  Let's let them learn by doing and redoing.

It was great to see the enthusiasm and energy spilling out of those doors following his standing room only sessions today.  My parting question though, is:  How do we move that enthusiasm and energy into our classrooms next Monday?  What one thing can, scratch that, WILL each teacher do to enact change in their practice that is best for kids?

I look forward to (and am hopeful for) meaningful curriculum change that will facilitate the big changes we need to make.  Read about the curriculum redesign project in Alberta HERE.

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