We can not expect teachers to take a risk and try something new if we ourselves are not willing to try something new.
I held a PD session for K-12 teachers after school today. It was one of 5 technology sessions we offered to teachers in what is known as TECH Wednesdays. Basically one Wednesday a month is set aside for tech PD. Today’s sessions included:
Blogging: (Brought 15 more teachers online)
Netvibes: Learn about Ginger and the new Universe function (Netvibes is the dominate RSS reader at our school)
Photoshop: Basic photo munipulation (resize, crop, rotate, etc)
Beginner Basics: For those who need just basic computer help at a beginner level
Why Not?: My session which focused on the question Why (BYOL=Bring Your Own Laptop session).
Not only did I want to try and help teachers understand why we need to be using technology to teach but I also wanted to demonstarte how one of these tools could be used in a classroom setting.
If I was asking my teachers to take a risk in their own classroom, then I felt I needed to show that I too was willing to take a risk with my presentation and push myself to try something new. So, I set up a chat room using chatzy.com. As people filed into my session I had them open their laptops and helped them to log into the private chat room.
I was taking a risk on a couple of different levels.
- I had never used chatzy.com before and was praying that it was stable enough and easy enough for teachers to be able to figure out with little instruction.
- I was worried that our wireless access point would not deal with more than 20 laptops in the room. So earilier in the day I asked the IT department to install two other access points…praying we could make it work.
- We are in China…and there is always the “China Factor” that you need to worry about.
- Would the teachers take the chat room seriously or would it, like it could with students if not structured correctly, become a place to play rather than to think deep?
I began the session by explaining that I was taking a risk, and quickly explained what a back channel conversation was and how it could be a very powerful learning tool in a classroom. I of course, couldn’t watch the chat on my computer as it was playing videos and held my notes for the session (I did however have two spys in the audience that I had asked ahead of time to try and focus the conversation if it did get off task…teachers are the worst students 😉 )
So I began where you usually begin when you are talking about change…the beginning. I started with the constructivist theory of learning seeing that all of us in the room went through teacher school learning this theory. It’s not a bad theory and one that I do believe in. The problem is it was created in 1967 and things have changed since then. It’s a good theory that needs a couple updates. In comes the connectivism theory. A theory that looks at the connected nature of information today and the role networks play in the learning process.
So we have a theory that states: individuals construct new knowledge from their experiences.
and a theory that states: Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual.
So together we get:
A theory that states: Individuals construct new knowledge from their experiences. Experiences that occur within nebulous environments of shifting core elements.
We’ll call it the Constructive Connective Mashup Theory of Knowledge Acquisition for now. 🙂
We talked about the two theories for awhile and how in a world where information is chaotic connected and complex that we need to find ways to make that relevent to our students and engage them in creating new meaning from what they themselves have experienced.
We then went on to talk about how Bloom’s Taxonomy of High Order Thinking Skills has been revisited based on research that learning is an active state. Therefore, Bloom’s Taxonomy needed to be updated to reflect this by using verbs.
Again, remember as I’m explaining all of this the room of about 15 teachers are chatting in the private chat room and I don’t have any idea of what they are saying. It’s an interesting moment when you look up to get an audiences reaction to something you just said to find that not one person is looking at you, but instead staring at their laptops. I didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing…but it is different and it is something that as presenters and as teachers we need to get use to if we want our audience to engage in reall meaningful conversations (again creating meaning from personal experience).
After I had my 15 minute talk. I opened it up for discussion on what teachers were thinking and any thoughts they had on using the chat room. We had a quick discussion about the theories and the taxonomy but not one comment about the chat room. I started wondering if it was just to much for the teachers. Did they not get it? Should I have explained it more? To late now…..
I then showed two videos and asked that they just reflect on their message and use the chat room to learn and think from each other.
I had more to share and planned on bringing it back to some of the things that teachers are doing already in our school but we ran out of time. We finished with a discussion about the two videos and again I asked about their experience with the chat…and again no response. The nice thing about chatzy is that it archives the chat so I sat down tonight and went back through to see what the conversation was about. Here are some of my favorite thoughts from the chat.
how do we set up the chatzy?
As long as you structure your lessons to make the use of the technology tool it will work
The diversity of opinions is key… especially with our population. So many of our students still want to be told what to think.
The Web = Chaos – we have to make sense
Why aren’t we all aware of a new Blooms? Should we be sharing it? Who decides
perhaps it’s also – can we ourselves create new knowledge? how can you teach creation without experiencing it yourself?
cell phones give our kids confidence, (
My 6 yr old) had access to one the other day to play by herself and she utilized it like a pro
Go to http://www.ceap.wcu.edu/Houghton/learner/Think94/NCmarzanoThink.html for a link to Marzano’s New Blooms
i love that comment about the students only asking a question every 10 hours, the tech they can access is so much more immediate and real to them than that
DEAR is spent reading blogs in my class, twice a week
I can’t believe that even 39% think school will matter later in life
IPod + podcast = anytime learning… I need to put that in my elective description.
creativity requires thinking
And to create an environment of risk-taking the teacher cannot serve as the know it all… they serve as the facilitator of the creativity!!!
absolutely – facilitating activities, providing models to tweak etc
The HS digital media club impresses me and is almost all student driven beyond what we have ‘schooled’ them in. Students drive the creativity though like jim says the test driven format of HS limits us and them.
We can all end up at the same point it is how we get there that makes the difference
I think that young child stop taking risks and stop being creative when they stop playing or when we organize their play too much
I think there is far too little time for PE for our elementary kids – they need to run and play more often!
one of the best experiences I had was when I had a classroom without desks and every lesson we used the outdoors to learn things. the kids were engaged and interested and thinking. I didn’t have paper assessemnts I watched the students and assessed them. basicly the students played at tasks while I watched and then we talked about their learning. And this was with grade 7’s and 8’s. I would love to have a classroom like this again
The chat: can be used in so many ways
Now I don’t know how they actually felt about using the chat as a back channel as none of them spoke up to tell me. But I learned a lot by going back and reading the chat and there is a part of me that wishes I could have been a part of it. Note to self…next time bring two laptops. One for the preso and one to chat. 🙂
[tags]21st Century Learning, connectivism, presentation[/tags]