Monday, November 2, 2009

Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century-Pt .1

Going to a one-day workshop with Will Richardson and a room full of very tech-literate teachers is like… OK, as I lay awake with my toothache driving me nuts, I decided that attending this workshop must be like skydiving. First, there is the head-spinning sensation of jumping out of the plane and you’re just falling fast, disoriented and trying to figure out what to do. Everything is happening very quickly and you wonder if you can respond in time. Whoops, there’s the jolt of the chute opening and now you have support. Wow, you have time to look around and see the big, beautiful world from a whole new perspective and that’s what you’ll remember from this experience.
In thinking about the workshop the first thing that struck me was that this was not really a continuation of our February session. Instead, Will encouraged us to abandon our reliance on and/or obsession about “tools” to focus on the big idea of “curriculum.” Many times during Friday evening’s presentation and Saturday’s workshop we heard the phrase, “It’s not about the tools, it’s about re-thinking the curriculum.”
I was so amazed and impressed that in the space of eight months or so, Will has moved forward so far with his thinking about the environment that we’re working in, both now and in the future, and the place of the students in that world (both within the four walls of the classroom and beyond), and is able to lead a bunch of us along the same continuum.
At the same time I guess we have come a little way ourselves.
Last February, we sat in a large ballroom full of teachers for whom everything was just new, new, new – we learned: Twitter, blogs, blog readers, wikis, Diigo, Google apps, Delicious, audacity and more.
And now, many of those present have got all that happening in their classrooms and were ready to think about “21st centurizing” their lessons.
So it was just the most tenuous sort of continuation – more like quantum leap forward in our thinking about technology and literacy.
There were many in the room who were ready for this message, and at the same time all of us are individuals going back to our own separate schools and boards. Various people’s frustrations with their colleagues, administrators or boards were discussed. However it was clear that lots of teachers are just going ahead on their own working in their rooms and completing astounding projects with their students.
The other thing that was fascinating was to hear teachers talking about the work that they’re doing and the knowledge and power they’re giving the students – and then hearing that they’re sending their students on from grade 3 to grade 4. Just amazing.
It really showed me that 21st century strategies are integral to all student learning. From the minute they start to become literate in the traditional sense of the word they can move towards 21st century literacy.
P.S. Thanks to @showes7 for the dentist referral – I’m going on Thursday!

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