Saturday, April 12, 2014
The Future of Education is AMAZING!!
That is Alan November. Education and professional development specialist, and an AMAZING person to listen to about the future (and not so future) of education.
I will admit, I'm not the biggest fan of professional development training sessions. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love learning about new stuff when it's related to education. But, sitting in a chair for about 6-7 hours listening a person talk can be a bit much. I am a teacher. I'm used to being up on my feet for about 6-7 hours a day. However, I could have listened to Alan November speak for days. Everything that came out of his mouth was inspiring, motivational, and just plain awesome. He's a little quirky, but very funny. And I couldn't help relate him to some kind of mad scientist. A pure genius, in his own right, I'm sure.
He's a HUGE proponent for technology innovation, which was the topic of yesterday's conference. He believes that most of the classroom experience should focus on technology. He also believes that students should no longer be attending classes in the traditional sense: Teacher lectures, models, and assigns students to do problems in the way they were shown. Instead, teachers facilitate learning, guide learning, and allow students to do a huge chunk of investigating and coming up with their own ways of solving and completing problems and assignments. Not just that, but allowing students to become teachers and learn about stuff that teachers DON'T know about. And what I mean by that, is allowing students more freedom to explore areas that are outside of their teacher's "expertise" and the teacher be open and willing to learn just as much from his/her students as he/she teaches.
What I loved about yesterday's conference was the fact that it was focused on other teachers sharing how they are using technology in the classroom.
The first presenter shared how her district has gone completely ZERO textbooks. They are now focused on eSourcing. Which is where all content is used through the internet or a computer. Of course, their district also has a 1:1 ratio of students to laptops. Each student has their own Chromebook to work off of in the classroom, so it's a little easier to eSource when there is always a computer available for a student to use. She shared a few sites that her district is using to help mainstream the process, and provided great resources for the curriculum.
Then, it was my turn...
Yep. That's me. Presenting on using Minecraft in the classroom, and promoting my class blog. I have to say it was an amazing experience. Mr. November was extremely excited when he was told what I'd be presenting. Apparently, he's been trying to get more teachers to think about using Minecraft in the classroom, and thought it was very cool that I'd been able to do so much in such a little amount of time. He was genuinely fascinated with my presentation, what I've been doing with my kiddos, and how I'm bridging together class work and Minecraft time. My fifteen minute time slot ended up being closer to thirty, by the time I finished presenting and Mr. November finished asking me questions. But, I didn't mind. I was happy and excited to do it.
After me, there were presenters that shared websites that teach ELEMENTARY students to write code for games and presentations. There were presenters who are using online portfolios, that the students create themselves. We heard about websites that offer free college courses from Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. We watched as presenters shared work that had been submitted by students electronically: videos, writing samples, games, etc. Websites that offer online curriculum support and resources, such as articles and research help, and online interactive textbooks.
I was completely fascinated at the amount of tools and ideas that were shared, and the living examples of how easy it really is to incorporate MORE technology in to the classroom and move away from the traditional pencil to paper classroom.
The whole time, I was busy writing notes down in my notebook and watching Twitter. Another fun aspect of the conference. A streaming Twitter feed. It was very cool to watch other people in the same room share their ideas and comments while presenters were presenting. Even MORE resources to store away. I walked away with three pages of notes and ideas. That's about 2 1/2 pages more than I EVER have after a professional development session.
Not just that, but by the end of the day, I had been signed up to present at ANOTHER conference in Joplin. I will be presenting at a educational technology conference in June, and I'll be presenting about student blogging and Minecraft. How awesome is that?
Not only was the conference amazing, but the drive to and from was great. I rode with my principal, and it was great to pick her brain and listen to some of the ideas she has about the future. She is just as fascinated with all of the technology components as I am, so it was great to hear how she'd like to see more of it and some of the things she'd like for the teachers to start thinking about in the future. And, I love the fact that she completely understands and knows the teachers that work for her. That not all of the teachers would be as excited about a technology take-over, and that there is no need for an entire overhaul of the way her teachers are currently teaching.
It was an amazingly fun day, and I'm so glad I got to be part of it. I'm just a little bummed that I only got to go to the last session. It was the last of three, and I now wish I could have gone to all three sessions. But, no biggie. It was great to hear and see what I got to see, and present.
Today, I'm up at 4AM because I have to chaperon a band trip. Peanut is performing a solo and in the band, so I'm going along to help out and watch her play. Which, I better get to getting to, because I have to leave in about 30 minutes.
I hope everyone has a fantastic Saturday!!