Tuesday, July 24, 2007
A day at M.I.T with Mitchel Resnick:
Building Learning Communities/Alan November Conference 2007:
The day began at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) with Mitchel Resnick , director of the Lifelong Kindergarten Project. Mitchel believes that we should be helping children grow up as creative thinkers. He stated “Our ultimate goal is a world full of playfully creative people who are constantly inventing new opportunities for themselves and their communities.”
The Lifelong Kindergarten group is fortunate to be located within the MIT Media Lab, a hotbed of creative activity. In one corner of the Media Lab, students are designing new musical instruments. In another corner, students are designing new social-networking software. This type of activity makes the Media Lab not just a good research lab, but a GREAT place for learning, since people learn a great deal when they are actively engaged in designing, creating, and inventing things.
Unfortunately, most children don't get the opportunity to engage in these types of creative activities. In school, they learn specific facts and skills, but rarely get the opportunity to design things -- or to learn about the process of designing things. Outside school, they interact with electronic toys and games, but they don't learn how to invent or create new ones.
In the Lifelong Kindergarten Group, they are trying to change that. They believe that it is critically important for all children, from all backgrounds, to grow up knowing how to design, create, and express themselves. They are inspired by the ways children learn in kindergarten: when they create pictures with finger paint, they learn how colors mix together; when they create castles with wooden blocks, they learn about structures and stability. They are extending this kindergarten style of learning, so that learners of all ages continue to learn through a process of designing, creating, experimenting, and exploring.
After Mitchel’s introduction of the “Lifelong Kindergarten Project” philosophy, he introduced us to “Scratch” and “Cricket”. We were all given a project to explore as an individual or as a small group of 2 or 3.
It is hard to describe the experience. I was allowed freely to follow a process as I did as a 5 year old. First “ Imagine” – thinking what I wanted to do, then “Create”- build my project, “Play” -with my project, “Share”- my experience with others, and then “Reflect” -on what I had learned, mistakes I made, changes I could make etc. Then I started the process all over again.
Quite a revolution in learning: - allowing me to make mistakes, reflect and then try it again. Imagine the possibilities if we start to “Think Different” in our teaching methods, move the student center stage, and remove the teacher from the center of the stage.
After the first session, I wandered around the “Lab”. Mass chaos; it appeared to be very disorganized and an office that had piles of clutter. (See photo) BUT..what a creative environment. Real learning going on with graduate students all working on projects, asking questions, exploring, sharing , creating and then reflecting on what they did.
After lunch I had the opportunity to visit with Mitchel about 21st Century Learning and the model he uses. We had a great discussion about his vision, current and future projects. I was provided this opportunity because I decided to direct my own learning and attend the workshop. I know Mitchel enjoyed providing the workshop to our group….but I am the one who reaped exponential benefits as a learner and obtained many new ideas to bring back to our Durango School District. What an incredible opportunity for this “Durango Country Boy”.
As my mind is racing during this process, I realize my heart is pounding……I am really excited about the new process of learning experience that I had just participated it. Mitchel is really on to something here. What a shift and change in thinking about learning styles. How would we do this in a school? We really have our work cut out for us!
Part 4 of 5 – next week
Part 2: Comments and quotes from the Building Learning Communities/Alan November Conference 2007:
Leadership is being:
Students should take ownership of their own learning
It has nothing to do with all the Technology stuff you have—it has everything to do with what you do with it…
I think we should require EVERY principal to have and write a Blog- communicate with the community, staff and students.
Tell me what make a good teacher?
Kids are digitally juiced
Kids who use Wikis do better school work
My staff is a reflection of me
Can we shift control to the kids?
If you spend a lot of money on the Technology stuff for a pointless purpose; it is a waste of money
It’s not about Technology and connectivity; it’s about the contributions we can make as students and educators.
Our schools today only skate the surface..they do not use the full power of the Internet.
I do not need a physical classroom anymore.
How does this change the way I learn?
When our kids walk into the classroom of today—we cut them off from social connection and communication.
Every class offered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). is on-line: With 1,550 courses published as of November 1, 2006
Audio and Video Guide: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Global/OCWHelp/avocw.htm
I.B.M. has over 400,000 employees that have social web pages.
What are we going to do with these disruptive Technologies?
If you as teachers are not doing it, someone else will.
Every classroom should be connected to a nursing home or assisted living area.
Learn to know how to honor the wisdom of a senior citizen.
Be watchful of what could be wrong; but be a model of what can be right.
We all need to be in the learning business not the school business.
We are at the beginning of a revolution with these new technologies; i.e. Blogs, Wikis, PodCasts, Visual Literacy, Interactive Video Conferencing and Digital Story telling.
The role of a teacher is to expand the boundary of communication.
Tools For Creative Thinking: Most of the educational systems around the world have not changed to support creative thinking.
The Creative Process should be like kindergarten and applied at K-12:
Repeat the process:
Teachers need to get out of school – they all should have the opportunity to be involved in an internship with a business during the summer.
Give kids “Real Work” and “Real Problems”
Feel the fear – and do it anyway.
Why do our classroom have fixed walls?
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Part 1: BLC – Building Learning Communities Conference: July, 2007
After thoughts and reflections:
My head hurts and my brain is on triple overload. I am tired, exhausted, excited, inspired, challenged and have so many new ideas, I do not know where to start.
Over the past 6 months I have been doing a lot of reflection and self-examination as I prepare for my retirement in December of 2007.
I believe I am where I am today as the I.T. Director because I am a visionary for Technology and an instrument for change. I challenge my staff, help them advance, challenge their thinking and train them for success. I provide Technology Staff development to our Durango teachers and challenge each of them to think different and implement change in teaching methods in the classrooms.
Six months ago I was provided the opportunity to present and attend the Alan November: Building Learning Communities Conference, in July of 2007.
Alan makes my brain hurt; he challenges me, expands my thinking, provided new ideas, stretches the boundaries of 21st Century Learning and provides me the opportunity to “Think Different”. Those of you that know of me or my work know that I begin all my presentations with the “Think Different Video”. I always share my closing comment with “ I am crazy enough to think I can change the way teachers teach- one teacher at a time.” Some of you may know me for the “Did You Know II and III” video that I remixed and re-edited for YouTube. It has had over 65, 000 views and continues to inspire and challenge individuals. It was absolutely amazing, while at the conference, to meet people that use the video to get the change process started around the world. What an honor to have Alan November, tell me that he has used it in his presentations. His expression was priceless “ You’re the guy?—You are the GUY !!! The presentation is brilliant.” I am so humbled that someone like Alan would say such kind words…..
Then 30 minuets later, to find Shuchi Grover, Educational Technology Consultant, Bangalore, India, sitting behind me, and have her share how she uses the “Did You Know II” video to start the change process in the 21st Century Education process in India. It was like meeting an old friend. We spent the next 2 hours sharing and then I attended her presentation “ Building Online Communities of Educators: Experiences from India. It really is a flat world!!!!
After day one of attending the BLC conference I felt like a truck had hit me…..my whole body ached. Imagine spending 5 days with 10 of the premier Educational Technology Advocates and leaders for 21st Century Learning in the same room with you…. listening to their presentations, attending a workshop with them, being provided the opportunity to discusses with them your visions for the 21st Century Learner and interact with them. These individuals traveled from around the world; China, India, Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Africa and the 50 states.
Alan November knows how to produce a 5 day conference. You do not present at his conference unless he knows you and thinks you offer a challenging 21st Century Skills related presentation and you will excite participants. You must have a passion for what you do and be able to transfer that excitement to attendees at the conference.
Session were divided into 4 different strands:
- Critical Thinking and Information Literacy
- Online Community Building
- Leadership and Managing Change
- Transforming and Designing New Schools
A short list of presenters included Alan November, Mitchel Resnick (MIT researcher), Will Richardson ( Blogs, Podcasts and Wikis book), Mark Prensky ( Digital Kids- Digital Immigrants book), Bob Sprankle ( Room 206 Podcasts with 3rd graders), Shuchi Grover, (Educational Technology Consultant, Bangalore, India), Marco Torres, (Teacher, Creative Director, Media Coach, Sylmar, CA ) , Dr. Yong Zhao , (Distinguished Professor from US-China Center for Research), Professor Angela McFarlane, Professor in Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK. ,Soyki India ( ) and Dr. Tim Tyson, (Principal of the Year, Mabry Middle School, Cobb County Public Schools, Marietta, GA.) , and of course Howie DiBlasi – Tools For The 21st Century advocate…. Of course I am not in the same league as any of the above, but what a privilege it was to be able to listen to all of them and then interact on a one to one level. My desire is to polish my skills and learn from the masters like Alan and to someday be included in their company.
Individuals, keynotes and session are listed below:
Tools For Creative Thinking
Dr. Mitchel Resnick, Associate Professor at the MIT Media Laboratory, Cambridge, MA
Moving from Personal Knowledge to Global Contribution
Dr. Tim Tyson, Principal, Mabry Middle School, Cobb County Public Schools, Marietta, GA
Online Communities of Learning: Lessons from the Worlds of Games and Play
Professor Angela McFarlane, Professor in Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
Digital Citizenship in a Global Economy: The Internet Revolution and Its Implications for Education
Dr. Yong Zhao, University Distinguished Professor, Director, Center for Teaching and Technology Director, US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence, College of Education, Michigan State University
A Web of Connections: Using Blogs, Wikis, RSS and Other Cool Tools to Connect and Learn - Will Richardson, Author, Chief Learning Officer, Connective Learning, Flemington, NJ
Leadership Applied: Building Powerful Learning Communities - Dr. Tim Tyson, Principal, Mabry Middle School, Cobb County Public Schools, Marietta, GA
Building Learning Communities: Putting It All Together - Alan November and the November Learning Team - (Chris Turek, Brian Mull, Lainie McGann)
Turning Classrooms into Learning Studios: Lights, Camera, Learn! - Marco Torres, Teacher, Creative Director, Media Coach, Sylmar, CA
Professor John Anderson, Education Associate, Northern Ireland Regional Training Unit, Northern Ireland
Bill Bierdon, Adjunct Professor, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN (Session sponsored by Atomic Learning)
Donelle Blubaugh, Director, PreK-12 Education, PBS, Washington, DC
Melinda George, Sr. Director, PBS TeacherLine, PBS, Washington, DC
Rob Lippincott, Sr. Vice President, Education, PBS, Washington, DC
Tom Daccord, Academic Technology Advocate for the Humanities, Noble and Greenough School, Chestnut Hil, MA
Tim DiScipio, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, ePals, Westport, CT
Lauren Fee, Instructional Technology Consultant, Instructional Technology Services of Central Ohio, Inc., Columbus, OH
Shuchi Grover, Educational Technology Consultant, Bangalore, India
Dr. Sara Kajder, Assistant Professor, Department of Education, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Dr. Don Knezek, CEO, ISTE, Washington, DC
Beverly Knox-Pipes, Assistant Superintendent for Technology, Genesee Intermediate School District; Executive Director, Genesee Network for Educational Telecommunication (GenNET), Flint, MI
Keith Krueger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Washington, DC
Darren Kuropatwa, Department Head Mathematics, Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, Winnipeg, MB
Dr. Bobbi Kurshan, Executive Director, Curriki - Global Education and Learning Community, Washington, DC
Sonny Magaña, Teaching and Learning Coordinator, Promethean, Inc., Atlanta, GA
Ewan McIntosh, New Technologies Research Practitioner, Learning and Teaching Scotland, Glasgow, UK
Walter McKenzie, Professional Development Specialist & Educational Consultant, Surfaquarium Consulting, Amesbury, MA
Margaret Meijers, Teacher and ICT Curriculum Coordinator, New Town High School, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Brian Mull, Director of Research and Content Development, November Learning, New Orleans, LA
Alan November, Senior Partner, November Learning, Marblehead, MA
Bob Pearlman, Director of Strategic Planning, New Technology Foundation, Tucson, AZ
Marc Prensky, Speaker, Writer, Consultant, Learning Game Designer, New York, NY
Dr. Mitchel Resnick, Associate Professor at the MIT Media Laboratory, Cambridge, MA
Dr. Dave Richards, Global Director, Partner Engagement, Oracle Education Foundation, Reston, VA
Will Richardson, Author, Chief Learning Officer, Connective Learning, Flemington, NJ
Bob Sprankle, Technology Integrator, Wells Elementary School, Wells, ME
Carolyn Staudt, Curriculum Developer/Professional Devel't, The Concord Consortium/ KidSolve, Inc., Concord, MA
Marco Torres, Teacher, Creative Director, Media Coach, Sylmar, CA
Chris Turek, Education Consultant, November Learning, Houston, TX
Dr. Tim Tyson, Principal, Mabry Middle School Cobb County Public Schools, Marietta, GA
Joyce Valenza, Librarian, Springfield Township HS Library, Erdenheim, PA