Working with the Willing

So a new school year is upon us, as today was the first day for students at ISB. I spent the first hour helping new middle school students find their way around the school….what fun. ISB set a new record for the amount of new students this year. A HUGE turn around year with 100s of families leaving and 100s more filling their place. It always makes me wonder what’s going on in the bigger picture that you have this kind of turn around in a year…..interesting….and I have no answer. As the new year begins though I’m thinking about my job and once again supporting teachers. This is a touchy subject and the reason why I’m putting it out there is to see where everyone else is on this idea. My job is to support teachers in using technology in their classroom. I don’t have any classes of my own I support full time. But I’m supporting an initiative that we all believe in but isn’t required. It’s not required that my teachers use technology. It’s not required that they rethink how they teach in the era of open access to content. They’re not required to rethink education as they know it. Their job is to teach….and they do a good job at it. We had 100% pass rate of IB diploma students last year….again. Our students continue to get into top colleges and universities around the world and parent feedback continues to come back that we’re doing a hell of a job educating their children.  So, why do we need to change? Why do we need to rethink education? Why do we have to even worry about technology? and Why do they have to use me?   The answer is they don’t. Some choose to at different times, some are really thinking about the future and where this is all leading and other classrooms I never see the inside of. I’m here because teachers, at some level, are forced to use technology. E-mail, Moodle, PowerSchool are the three programs that everyone has to use. So yes….I’m need to support the use of these with teachers, but not in learning, not with students, basically so teachers can do their job.  And I have no problem doing that…..they’re just paying me a lot of money to be an application support person. So it comes down to working with the willing. Working with those...

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Your School’s Profile: Are you keeping up?

This is something I’m pretty passionate about and something I think most schools don’t fully understand yet. In a socially connected world where communities trump content schools need to continue to monitor and adjust where their community is moving to, what tools are they adopting, and what content they are creating, talking about, and using to connect to each other. It use to be you only had to worry about your school website Then it was the wikipedia entry Then came videos that kids were uploading to YouTube and Myspace Next came Facebook Shortly after that Twitter and now location services (Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla and Google Latitude ) Your school does have a presence on all these sites right? At the end of last school year I was the only one checking into ISB (Foursquare link) via Foursquare. The Mayorship was all mine! Then somewhere around September I get a notice that I was bumped from being the mayor of our school. A little investigation found out that it was an 11th grade girl at our school. Over the next couple of months we battled it out for the Mayorship…I leave for winter break only to come back and find that Foursquare had taken off at our school.   Click to Enlarge Seeing that the community was building here it was time to make it official as there were a few different venues floating around for our school. So I followed the steps on Foursquare to claim the venue…a pretty easy process. After I officially claimed the venue for our school I could add information such as the correct address, link to website, link to twitter account, and even offer specials to students.  I ran a special that if students checked in 5 days in a row I would buy their lunch (attendance taker?). I gave away two lunches in January and then started thinking about other specials you could run for parents, students and the community. You really could have some fun with this. (i.e. Check-ins during sporting event give-aways. Attendance check-ins, daily give-aways…..free lunch from the school to a random person check-in.) Of course you also need to understand that you can’t control everything…especially location based services like this one. We have the school as the official venue on Foursquare. But kids have gone crazy and you can also find: ISB Library ISB Cafeteria ISB Dance Room...

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The reason for f2f

Back in Bangkok and still making sense of what happened last week. Two conferences with a total of 13 presentations and a 102.8F fever in between. The one idea that keeps running through my head is this: What is the reason we gather Face to Face? There is a reason we like going to conference, there is a reason why students like coming to school (and it’s not to be by oneself) there is a reason we want students in a class. What is that reason? What is the reason we gather face to face when content can be found 24/7/365? What is the reason when research can be done outside face to face time? What is the reason when reading/listening/gathering/analyzing content can be done outside of school? What are we doing with face to face time to maximize the learning potential for students?If we are worried that students are just “skimming the web” for information then what is the face to face time in our classes for? If we are worried that kids won’t have an opportunity to go deep with knowledge, that things come to easy and to fast. What are we doing with the time we have them in front of us? If I have every student find the 5 best articles they can on a given topic and bookmark them using Diigo or Delicious, when we get together face to face, what do we do? What is my role as a teacher facilitator? There is a reason we get together, there is something that online courses, Skype, and all of it can not replace. What is that? And how do we change our classrooms so that is what we are focusing the majority of our time on. How do we maximize face to face time with students? What is technologies role? What is the teacher’s role? As usual I come back from conferences with more questions than answers….and that’s a good thing....

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