Saturday, July 19, 2008

Who Drives 21st Century Learning? Technology or Curriculum?

I just looked at our Professional Development calendar put together for the school year.  My immediate reaction is.........where are the 21st Century Skills that we all keep saying are so important?  Then I saw the day in January labeled Technology PD where the Technology Team is the responsible party.  (I put together tech training in Jan every year for one full day)  And at the end of the school year, there are another 2 full days of 'tech training' where the tech team is responsible.  Now don't get me wrong, I think 3 full days of 'tech' professional development is awesome. it really the technology department's role to determine what this should be?  

We don't have the role of a curriculum integration person in our district.  We have the curriculum coordinator, and the technology director (me).  Curriculum includes everything except anything that includes a computer, the web, multi-media, electronic communications, ........the standards in....reading, writing, math, science and social studies.  We promote the importance of 21st Century skills and are full of all the related buzzwords.  However,  the Technology Team decides upon 3 full days of tech training that is needed.  This tech training is the only "21st Century Skills"  training that will be on the schedule. Anyone other than me see the problem with this picture?!?  

I'm frustrated and frazzled and wish others would see the value in looking at the curriculum in a holistic manner with 21st Century Skills AND technology.  WHY does it have to be separate!? 
If we really want to successfully prepare our students for this future we don't know, then we need to stop treating technology as this separate entity unless we are truly speaking of specific hardware, software and infrastructure.  If we are talking about it the context of student learning, then it needs to be all in one, one in all.  

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Social Media Allows Grown-Ups to be Kids

Young children easily play with whatever children are around them. As children grow it becomes a bit more awkward to simply befriend another. As one enters the teenage years, the saga continues where it takes longer periods of time of being together or similar interests to draw teens together into friendships. There are a few exceptions to this rule like my 14 year old daughter who started a new school for 9th grade this year. She did have an immediate group of new friends because of joining the swim team but that wasn't enough. She has become much more outgoing this year....she literally walked around asking other kids if they wanted to be her friend. I thought she was kidding with me when she told me she was doing that, but she wasn't. Luckily, she met many very nice friends this way. we move into adulthood, college and the workplace, it takes more time to develop these friendships, relationships, acquaintances, or whatever you want to call the interactions betwen two people. As I have started to use social media tools, and especially today as I started posting and commenting on the network created for the Laptop Institute Conference, it got me thinking how easy these tools make it to do what is difficult for adults to do in real life. Many adults, myself included, are hesitant to muster up conversations with others. As much as we are all at this type of event to do just that, I am often quiet and shy. I am less timid having tools such as the ning created for NECC, and this interactive site for the Laptop Institute.

This got me to thinking and wondering about this phenomena of how these social online tools are really changing behaviors.  I know that I feel like I am gaining so much more from the summer conferences and trainings I am attending because of these tools.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this adult world of making new friends as easily as one does as a five year old.

Summer Learning Continues

I spent a week in San Antonio at NECC with my husband and daughter. We spent an extra day at Schlitterbaun Water Park and the Como River. I had two days at home for the holiday weekend and flew out to Boston for PowerSchool University. I returned for less than a day to fly to Memphis for the Laptop Institute. I am in my room this morning trying to spend a some time planning my attack for the next few days of more learning. I feel like a giant sponge taking in so much information and sharing. The downside to these back to back conferences and training is the lack of reflection time. I haven't had time to unwind and regroup and really reflect on what I have heard, watched, talked about, learned or shared. In between it all, I've been trying to keep up on the continuing tasks that come my way from the home front. My email is out of control. I'm trying to respond to the most urgent needs. The summer project list is growing. My fear is not spending the needed time to truly reflect and gather thoughts on all of these opportunities before too much time elapses.  I need to make that time, regardless of the monstrosity of other tasks waiting for my attention.  

The biggest ponderment I have is.....When do I get all this time off in the summer that non-educators presume happen when one works for a school?  Although, I suppose if I ever really had it, I would still spend in on learning and finding ways to better do what I do to support teaching and learning in our schools.