Today is an optional staff development day in my husband’s school district. He is as busy as ever making sure 120 presenters have their needs met including making sure there are students for the session that calls for it. Yes–students. Marc Prensky is in the building, and I’ve just sat through 2 sessions–a keynote titled “Engage Me or Enrage Me: Educating Today’s Digital Learners” and then a panel discussion with students titled “Interview with the Digital Natives.”
The kids were fabulous! All I could think was once they had their nerve up, they were more than willing to tell it like it is! When asked about the amount of time students spent using technology in school, across the board students said very little. When asked to speak about a memorable project or assignment, the students visibly struggled. And when they were describing it, you could almost read “guilt” on their faces for not being able to share something really dynamic. Only one could share about a memorable project that allowed him creativity and to reallly think outside the box, and his was in a “technology” course–>he worked with a business to design a website that would allow them to showcase and advertise their product. Authentic–real world. The school has had an influx of interactive boards and technology, but across the panel the kids said their teachers did not seem to know how to use it effectively, and gave examples of it being an expensive screen for the projector or a super-sized worksheet. I loved it when a student described how the teacher would scan writing, and then the teacher and/or kids used their board to edit. I was embarrassed, as I have done exactly that activity myself before. My question is how is this any different from former complaints by teachers of the “one computer in the classroom?”
I go back after lunch to hear Prensky again, and the title of that session is “Turning on the Lights: Why Schools Must Compete, and How to Do It.” My guess it is going to be about taking the learning global. I was fairly familiar already with his keynote, so hopefully he will give me something new to take away. I’m carrying my laptop to the next one, even though I won’t have connectivity. I will be able to take notes, and maybe post them here in my blog to share. Pictures to share later this afternoon! (I don’t have the cord for the camera with me.)
After Lunch take away–>Get on YouTube
Well I went after lunch to his session, and he was as relaxed as ever, and encouraging folks to just voice concerns and ask questions. It was interesting to hear the fear in their voices–a fear I do not have. One teacher brought up his comment form this morning that kids should be allowed to use calculators, and that long division and multiplication tables were time wasters in the class (my phrasing, not his.) I loved his example of how the clock became a standard piece of classroom teaching–how formerly we learned to tell the time by the sun. What did I leave with? Gaming, while very relevant to kids, has yet to be made into a concept ready for school. (Oh no, I don’t know if I’m ready for gaming to become “schooly.”) He says those in the field who are doing great things should post their great things to YouTube. He strongly suggests teachers while gathering resources for units of study check YouTube to see what is there. He says we as teachers can bring down the walls of our classrooms by using social networking tools geared towards educators. OK, so nothing really new here. But it pleased me that the educators there were very much in-tune with his message and recognize that he is like a fountain slaking their thirst to be better educators, and they want learning to be relevant to our 21st century learners.
Image: ‘Thirst for Knowledge‘