Monday, September 30, 2013

Converting Us and Them

Google in Education recently had a great Hangout titled, "Designing Curriculum to Engage Students with Technology." This came at a great time.  I was just having the conversation with some colleagues about our conversion process and how we would soon be working with teachers to do some design work.

Five panelists shared their ideas in the presentation, and each had a different role in their district, from an assistant principal to a director of technology.  Their schools were in different stages of 1 to 1 plans, and each rolled their plans out in different ways.

Through the video, I came out with several ideas worth sharing:

As we move forward and transform our curriculum, we can include the technology as a source to learn from and not just a substitute for another "paper and pencil" method of accomplishing a task.  Our lessons should not center around the device, but what we want students to accomplish.

We should work to allow students to use more higher order thinking skills.  How does access to the technology allow us to do more Project Based Learning and hit the four C's - Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity?

Collaboration is huge!  It is one of the top skills employers look for.  What is one of the biggest reasons young adults lose jobs? The inability to work with others!

We need to MODEL!  Leadership needs to use the digital skills and methods of communication we want our students to use.  This will encourage teachers to use the same.  Have a guest administrator or teacher come and demonstrate or partner up for a lesson!  You never know what they'll say unless you ask!

We are all learning!  This is not a process that just goes to our students.  We are learning how to teach, teaching students how to learn, and how we can teach ourselves using technology.

You don't have to be a "techy" teacher!  Good practice comes from good teaching.  We're just adding a different way of doing things that teachers do already and including some skills necessary for students today.

Eventually, the technology will just become the way we do things.  It won't stay new for long.

Take on what you can handle.  Progress is progress!  Trying to do it all at once will be impossible, cause frustration, and will cause burnout.

Our rooms can become less centered on the teacher and more so on the student. We have tools to meet students where they are at and provide individualized learning.  The teacher becomes more of a facilitator than a leader.

As we move forward, what other areas of our schools will undergo a conversion?  How will our learning spaces be able to change?  Is a classroom filled with rows of desks going to remain the design of choice? Check out this BOLD move by a second grade teacher,  mentioned in these two articles! And see her blog, Kleinsperation. (She has a nice post on Chromebooks too!)

Ditching the Desks
Foster Productivity and Creativity


  1. I really liked the comment that technology should "not just a substitute for another "paper and pencil" method of accomplishing a task. Our lessons should not center around the device, but what we want students to accomplish." I think many educators see technology as an upgraded pencil and paper and not as a tool to help students create meaning or it's ability to transform education into a student-centered collaboration driven environment.

  2. I like how you are asking for a model of 21st Century Learning. The problem is that most teachers have not learned in this type of environment so creating one is difficult. has a number of schools across the nation that have been named as models of 21st century learning. Good post.