Saturday, July 23, 2011

Apples in the Desert: The ADE Summer Institute

Image by Chris Penny
This week was the summer institute for the new class of Apple Distinguished Educators in Phoeniz, AZ. I followed along on Twitter and it seemed as though just as many powerful things were happening with a small group of 200 educators as the 18,000 people that attended the annual ISTE conference.

What impresses me so much about this group? These educators don't just sit around and talk; they plan, they promote, they collaborate. I have seen the fruit of their work and, one by one, they are changing the landscape of education in their classes, in their schools and in their communities. Their goal? Improving learning by learning themselves. Their learning didn't stay inside a conference room all week but spread throughout learning communities inspiring educators who weren't able to be there. 

Here are some powerful things that came out of this week:
We need to allow students to use the digital tools they use outside of the classroom. Presenter Kevin Honeycutt captured it best when he said "If we amputate students' digital limbs when they walk in the door, how can we expect them to learn?"

Tips for Storytelling:
    -Be unique
    -Know your audience
    -Be concise
    -Start strong. End strong.
    -Think about perspective
    -Show. Don't tell

"It's not about teaching. It's about facilitating learning." - Chris Tully

"Not sure what kids are doing on their computers in the classroom? GET UP! If you love your chair so much, retire." -Kevin Honeycutt

"Technology is nothing without a real relationship with our students." -Kevin Honeycutt

"Passion knows no hours." -Bill Frakes

Thanks to all of the ADEs for tweeting what they were learning throughout the week so I could learn along with you :-)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thoughts from An Idealist

When I was at ISTE two weeks ago, I was able to attend tons of sessions and I noticed a startling pattern: At just about every session when a new idea or strategy was suggested, someone would raise their hand and talk about all the reasons why something wouldn't work or their limitations. After a few days of this, I began to feel really discouraged. 

I would love to see more teachers be unbelievably creative and bold. I would love to hear how more educators are remixing ideas to fit their classrooms. I believe that our students need to see us try, fail and try again because that's the only way they will feel comfortable doing the same. The job market as we previously knew it is rapidly changing. Fortune is on the side of those that are capable of creating opportunity where it didn't previously exist; our students will need to be creative, flexible and innovative. We cannot ask students to use their imaginations and tap into their creativity when we will not do the same. I know that budget cuts, layoffs and internet filters are a realty but shouldn't we try first

Do these thoughts make me an idealist? Maybe so and I'm okay with it :-)