Friday, February 20, 2009

Soundbytes from 21st Century Learning Fair

I've been mulling over how best to reflect on our 21st Century Learning Fair. I think the best way may be to discuss some soundbytes from the day.

"In the 21st century, the focus in classrooms needs to shift from teaching to learning."
This is something I have heard many times but there are those teachers on our campus that heard this for the first time on Tuesday. This one statement seems so simple but really entails a good deal of complexity. The shift in thinking is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Those teachers who have achieved excellence with the way school has worked sometimes need more time to truly digest this.

"In order for students to be respectful of intellectual property, they need to become property owners."
Honestly, this is the first time I can remember hearing this. It makes a lot of sense though that students would end up respecting what they can relate to. This is another reason why our students need to move from consumers to producers in our classrooms.

"If we go back to school as usual after this, then all we've done is wasted time and money."
Does school as usual exist any more? What I would think of as school as usual is long gone. Our society has changed, our communities have changed. We need to embrace the changes, figure out how to leverage them for the business of educating children and move on. We necessarily need to be different tomorrow than we were yesterday in the classroom.

Even though some of our faculty referred to Tuesday as a "tech fair." I am noting that none of the above soundbytes really have anything to do with technology. The President of our school sent out one of his Conversations with David messages to our greater school community this week. In it he discusses the history of the scribes and what happened when the printing press came along. He shared this story with our faculty at the close of Tuesday's 21st Century Learning Fair.

Almost half a century later, 1492, reality is sinking in, and the Abbot of Sponheim writes "De Laude Scriptorum" (In Praise of Scribes), an impassioned defense of the need for scribes. At core, his book shouted “the old order must be preserved at any cost”. So how would the Abbot get such a vital message out to the world? Not copied by scribes. It was set in movable type to get the word to hundreds and thousands quickly. And so, the Abbot’s medium confirmed the death of his message.

Do you see any analogies for 2009 and beyond? I think about it all the time. I am consistently asking what “scribal traditions” are schools—even more specifically — Greater Atlanta Christian sustaining that may be antiquated and need to die? What new mediums, new skills, and new definitions of “educated” do our children need for a world even more changed than pre and post Gutenberg? Are we still teaching "De Laude Scriptorum", and refuse to see it?

Some very interesting questions to ponder. I am glad for the discussions that will occur as a result of the 21st Century Learning Fair. I am glad for the leadership our administration is providing. Together, utilizing collective action, we can forge ahead into the "mid" 21st Century.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

21st Century Learning Fair

As a result of working with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson this year in a PLP consortium, our group decided that our school needed a day to "jump-start" a movement on our campus. The movement I am referring to is movement toward 21st century classrooms. As a school, we have already begun this movement but at a somewhat slow pace. We are hoping this special day will help to catapult us into a whole new phase.

Some incredible things have already happened just as a result of preparing for our 21st Century Learning Fair. We have 30+ faculty members facilitating break-out sessions with their peers. Now, considering these folks are getting nothing extra for the extra work I think that is pretty incredible. Our group has had to fully embrace some of the web 2.0 tools. Case in point is the presentation that Tammy Hughes and Amy Dean have prepared for their session on wikis.

Tomorrow, David Warlick will address our entire faculty and administration regarding 21st century learning and literacy. If all goes well, we'll have lots of notes being taken on the wiki by scribes in each session and at the end of the day we will all have a common vision for 21st century learning on our campus.

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