Lessons from ISTE – Chats, Choice and Expanding Horizons

July 13, 2012 at 8:10 PM Leave a comment

The big take-aways from this wonderful conference, after a few days of decompressing are

1. The PROCESS of the conference was so different and refreshing from what I’ve been used to.

The ‘shared interest groups’ (SIGS) with the physical as well as virtual places to chat to others. That the SIGs were often cross-content areas.

That there were poster sessions where you could choose what you wanted to learn more about, and engage one on one with the presenter. Much more fun than spending an hour in a presentation where they are basically saying, check my website for more info., or where you figure it’s not for you half way through but it would be rude to leave.

The challenge: How to make choice and chats real in a class room – best practice research supports this and guess what? I like it too, I bet most of us do.

2. TECHNOLOGY IS A MEANS TO AN END, and not an end in and of itself.

3. Technology allows us to expand our children’s horizons in all sorts of ways.

“Horizon” – the rim you see at the edge of your world, literally, socially, for what you notice in the world, the horizon of the smallest things you can observe, to the awe and wonder of the most vast. The people outside your own circle, their cultures and ideas. The worlds of other beings, animals, plants and unfamiliar ecosystems. Exploring without the expense, risk, bad plumbing and bugs.

Google maps and satellite images allows a literal expanding of horizons, including keeping an eye on illegal logging in the vast brocolli of distant rainforests.

Social networking allowing kids to blog and interact with children in classrooms all over the world. To comment on each other’s ideas and see inside other people’s worlds.

Training on acceptable, ethical and compassionate online behavior is more effective than filters. (Online bullying is no more the fault of being online, than real bullying is a result of vacant lots and bicycle sheds.)

The opportunity to see, be seen and heard all over the world and thus, the opportunity to do meaningful projects. PBL and technology are intimately connected, especially if you want to allow (and manage) more student choice in topic and end product.

Simulations and probe ware for students to fiddle around with natural phenomena and investigate it deeply.

Access to primary source data.

Glorious pictures and video sorted by topic from the pros at National Geographic, KQED Quest, NOAA and NASA.

The ability of glorious pictures, engaging stories and intriguing information to engage the hearts and minds of our children in ways that are both serious and fun, playing in their world, to find solutions for their future.

Polly-anna-ishness aside, it’s not easy to make this happen. It’s scary, clunky and overwhelming for old teachers like me. I’m going to keep trying, starting with a new, interactive white board next year. Challenge: to make sure it’s actually interactive and not just an expensive overhead projector.


Entry filed under: Class Management, Conference Reports, Creativity, Education Psychology, Inquiry and critical thinking, Project Based Learning, Reflections, Technology in class. Tags: , , .

Professionalize the Profession -> Student Innovators How to do better with teenagers…

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