The Seoul Of It All

The Seoul Of It All

At the end of last week I flew to Seoul, Korea to spend two PD days with educators at Seoul Foreign School (SFS). SFS, like so many other international schools in Asia are in the midst of rolling out their 1:1 program. This year their 5th adn 6th graders are in the program and next year they will be expanding that upwards through the grade levels as they continue the role out.  It was a fun two days filled with conversations and ideas. I met with math teachers on the second day and promptly stole everything that Dan Meyer has to offer (Thanks Dan!).   I also met with the primary teachers who teach 3-5 year olds. I had my hardest time talking technology with this group of educators. I believe what the brain research is telling us in that this age group should be spending as little time in front of computers as possible. The TED talk below is a good place to start and talks about how to develop the language center in the brain you can’t substitute computers for human contact. I’m not sure it’s a good move for a consultant who is brought in to champion tech to say….you shouldn’t be using very much. I do think limited exposure isn’t a bad thing, but the key word there is limited. I still want these kids playing with blocks and with each other. In the end it was great to spend time at a fantastic school who like the rest of big schools in Asia are asking big questions, innovating at every turn, and taking a risk on what the future of education might...

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Too Many Projects Not Enough Time

Too Many Projects Not Enough Time

I can’t believe how time is flying by this 2nd Semester. It’s our last 6 months in Thailand and of course when you want time to slow down so you can fit everything in it does just the oposite.  No excuses, I haven’t made the time to blog lately and find myself sitting here at 6am in the van on the way to school with a moment to reflect.  What I’ve been up to: School:   All of a sudden the last two weeks have been packed! Our school is hosting the regional basketball tournament and this year we’re going to try and live stream the games as well as have students commentate them live. When you have 5 teams flying in from 5 different countries not everyone can travel with them, so streaming the sports has become almost expected by spectators back in their home countries to keep up with the action. We’ll be live February 2,3,4 here in Bangkok and you can watch the games and see how we set this up using Ustream, Google Docs, and a blog here. Also on the school front, I took advantage of the holiday season knowing that teachers were going to come back to school with new toys; iPhones, iPads, Android Phones and new computers. I saw an opportunity to provide some training to teachers around their own personal use of technology. We know that if you start using technology in your personal life where it’s meaningful to you that those skills and understandings transfer over to your work life as well. Learning to take a video of your kids and e-mailing it to family is the same as taking a video of your students and e-mailing it to the parents.  The after school sessions were the best attended sessions I’ve had so far this year even with the power going out during the Android training, we found an emergency light and carried on.  People are hungry for information, especially when it relates directly to their personal lives….make trainning personal! Ninja Program: Logo for our T-Shirts @ ISB The Google Apps Ninja Program that I started back in September and blogged about here has completely taken me by surprise. There are now over 150 educators who have access to the Google Docs. Seeing that there might be something here that I can support long term I decided to move all the files to their own Google Apps domain. So the Google...

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90% Educator 10% ?

It’s that time of year again in the international education world of contracts, decisions, and thinking about your future. Kim Cofino has a great post about finding the right fit…the right school. Whether you are an international educator or not it’s worth a read. International Teachers are different…we’re weird….we don’t like stability, we like change and challenge. We like travel, culture and to be honest I think we all like just being different. If you’ve met an international educator you’ll know what I’m talking about. Countries, airports, and airlines are just common conversation. We talk about “Bali Belly” the “Shanghai Shits” and the “India Illness” like it’s common conversation….seriously never start a conversation about being sick with an international educator….we share way more than you ever wanted to know. 🙂 But that’s us…..we live on year by year contracts, don’t try to make us sign a multi-year deal….cause that’s a deal breaker in itself (part of the reason we left Shanghai). We’re renegades, we’re individuals, and nobody is going to tell us where we’re going to live or that we can’t leave….cause we will just to prove you wrong. Yeah….International Educators are different. We expect open bars at conferences (over 50% of our food budget for Learning 2.010 was spent on alcohol…cause if you don’t have it people won’t come). We expect conferences to be in amazing locations. Borneo, Bangkok, Greece, Shanghai, Singapore, Egypt, Nice, etc. Yeah…..international conferences are rough. And then there is the friendships you create. Deep meaningful friendships with people who become your family. My best friends little brother, who I’ve known since he was in 6th grade graduated from University at an elementary teacher and decided to try out the international teaching thing. His first posting has been Kuwait where he’s in his second year, meaning that he’s now having to decide whether to stay another year or decide if it’s time to move on. He wrote a blog post, a couple lately actually, talking about his decision and how attached one becomes to friends, a country and these amazing kids we have the honor of teaching. Some very reflective blog posts from a young teacher trying to figure out life, education, and the meaning of it all. And then there’s me…..maybe this blog post is describing me more then the general international educator (I’m sure they’ll let me know in the comments), but I’m constantly searching for something....

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Iowa Educational Leaders Seeing the Connections

Today I find myself in downtown Minneapolis after driving in last night from working with educational leaders in northern Iowa. I was looking forward to getting out and walking around the city, but it so happens I arrived the same time a winter storm has hit with high winds and what’s this white stuff I see falling from the sky? Yes….two days ago it was 60F today 38F and by Friday when I leave back to 63F. A little cold for my tropical blood so I’m doing the only logical thing you would do…..hanging out at a laundry mat catching up on laundry and thinking. I’ve been very impresses with how far Scott McLeod, Jamie and Nick have been able to move Iowa educational leaders in the conversation of what needs to be done to keep education relevant in rural America.  As I’ve talked with Scott and the educational leaders I’ve been working with throughout the state I keep coming back to Clayton Christensen book Disruptive Class (a must read!). He talks in the book about how disruptive technologies start by filling a niche need that is not mainstream. But they gain momentum fast and by the time mainstream knows what hit them they’ve become irrelevant (my basic paraphrasing of the book). Iowa finds itself trying to compete in a world where populations are moving to more urban settings, leaving rural states like Iowa looking for ways to stay relevant. I met one Superintendent who has 700 students covering something like 400 square miles and their population is increasingly getting smaller and older. How does a small rural community compete in a wired fast pace world?   You teach students to connect and be creative. The number of schools/districts that have gone 1:1 in the past couple of years is about to reach 100 a 50% increase from the year before, and I have a feeling the adoption rate of 1:1 in rural states like Iowa will continue to outpace those of urban states in the near future.  You then look at online learning and what the book Disruptive Class really focused on. That as these rural areas shrink they can’t afford full time teachers to teach every subject and online learning fills the void of offering classes that cannot be offered or supported locally.  We talked about ways that these educational leaders could connect their communities that are spread out over great distrances. Of course Facebook...

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1500 students, 1500 ways of being intelligent

As I wrap up my time here at the International School of Brussels I can’t help but think about the students that get an opportunity to go to such an amazing school. I had the pleasure of sitting last night and reflecting on my time here as I watched my first American Football game in over 8 years. I’m proud to say that ISB beat SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) and the hamburgers grilled up by the head of school (Link to his new blog) were fantastic. For a moment I felt like I could have been in any small town in the heart of American enjoying Friday night football. As I sat there in the crisp fall air the memories of my own high school days of Friday night football games came back. Sports were the reason I went to school, they were the only reason why I tried to pass classes. You had to have a 2.0 GPA in order to play and, well, lets just say I did pull at least that…..most the time. Motivation to do well comes from many different sources for kids. For some it’s sports, for others it might be band or theater, and yet for others it’s school itself that motivates them to do well. But understanding that each student is unique in what they are passionate about and what motivates them to do well is what every school, teacher, educator should strive to become. ISB is a unique school internationally. While most large international schools have rigorous entrance exams ISB-Brussels has taken a different approach…..one of inclusion. As their Impressions brochure states: 1500 students, ages 2 1/2 to 19, from 70 countries. Each with his or her own learning style, skills, interests, passions, personality,hopes and dreams, 1500 students, 1500 ways of being intelligent. ISB Impressions View more presentations from David Willows. My favorite conversations of the week revolved around this idea that every student is unique and with that we need to find unique ways to reach each one of them. ISB is a 1:1 school from 3rd-12th grade. Two years ago they took the plunge, with little to no known research backing 1:1 laptops programs in the elementary school. But it doesn’t take long to get a feeling that at this school it’s students that matter. That if there is a way that putting a laptop in the...

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