I spent the last four days at an amazing professional development. Normally that would be an oxymoron, a fun professional development? You must be kidding! This one was very different. I would liken it more to a business conference, and I will likely never have an opportunity like it again.
Monday we flew to NC, no events where planned so we just went to dinner then the hotel.
Tuesday we headed to the first day of training. We were in a mid-sized town, 33,000 people, sitting in a gym. But the keynote speaker was Richard Culatta! For people in education, this is pretty big deal. Already I was impressed. Obviously Mooresville is doing something right, to be this high on a national radar. We heard from students, saw their amazing projects, listened to the superintendent. He happens to be the National Superintendent of the Year. Seriously. That afternoon we broke out into strands. This is where the conference paid for itself. We were given access to their learning management system, lists of resources, PowerPoint's, and direct instruction.
Wednesday and Thursday were more of the same. The direct instruction was similar to how we make our kids feel in class, so when it went on too long we lost interest. Especially with so many amazing new resources at our fingertips. Many teachers fear kids having the Internet in their hands all day. "They won't pay attention." "They will be on games." "They will be on inappropriate sites." These are valid concerns, but this generation is hardwired for multitasking! We multitask all the time. I'm watching Project Runway as I type this blog. I can have a conversation, enter grades, and check my email at the same time. Your students can do this even better. Will we still need to be vigilant? Yes. But you should always be vigilant in your classroom. Computers are not baby-sitters and should not be treated as such. If you already have strong classroom management, computers are unlikely to hinder that. You put forth your expectations, and you EXPECT your students to follow them. Just as you would without technology in your classroom.
Resource after resource. I can not wait to go back to my teammates and co-workers and share these websites with them. Our school is embarking on a 1:1 computer initiative this year, and I (along with many others) are feeling apprehensive. I worry that my subject will be lost in the shuffle of technology. This week put me a little bit at ease. The kids at Mooresville can still write, spell, and read. They also have advanced 21st century skills that make them more prepared for tomorrow's workforce.
If I sound like I drank the Kool-Aid, well, guilty as charged I suppose. I do not think technology is a silver bullet. It will not cure all the ails today's school. However, I do think it is one ingredient in the cure. It is now in our hands as responsible, caring educators to find the rest of the needed ingredients.
Here are a few of my favorite sites that were new to me from this trip:
www.edcanvas.com (I am actually going to use this when we present at school.)
www.scoopit.com (You can follow the boards I've started curating at this link.)