Thoughts from ISTE 2

Invent to Learn Book
Invent to Learn book cover with authors Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager.

Yesterday, I went to a session by Sylvia Martinez, co-author with Gary Stager on the book Invent to Learn. I was very energized by her lecture entitled “10 Classroom Tools for the maker movement.” I tweeted several of her quotes including the following with my added commentary in italics that I couldn’t put in a Tweet:

“Going shopping will not change education.” As with most messages at ISTE this year it is about the teaching and the students, not necessarily having all the latest and greatest. Most individuals at the top (or at least in my district) enjoy having on the bells and whistles but they don’t support how they can be used in the classroom and focus the PD on that. Our district has focused on pedagogy (not necessarily the right pedagogy) which is great in the mean time all the technology sits collecting dust. Teachers than have a negative feeling about technology as just one more item to check off on rather simply as an extension of their teaching.

“We try to front load to kids rather than giving them experiences.” If the teacher tries to give them all the information rather than letting the kids discover for themselves, learning is not taking place. The Maker Movement and even Project/Problem Based Learning give the students the means to do this. Engagement of students = Experiences by students. A worksheet is not an experience; a worksheet is a tedious task set to gain compliance not to learn. It is front-loading not discovery. Discovery/experiences/active learning teaches not passive front-loading.

“The things we teach them today will open the doors for them in the future.” We are not teaching them for the here and now or the test they will be taking in the Spring. We are truly teaching them to life-long learners to not view learning as a one time snapshot in time. Many schools have in their mission/vision or purpose/direction that we want students to continue learning (life-long learners seems to be the catch-all phrase for this) beyond the walls of our building so why are we not giving them what they will need. By not letting them experience, by not letting them use technology, by not letting them discover and making meaning for themselves, we are hindering them for the future they will be living.

Many presenters quoted future job statistics and analytics on what educators need to be doing and many of us in the US are not getting it. Maybe it is because we don’t see it in our daily lives so we need to open up to the world. Our gloabal reach is astounding and yet we tend to still be US-centric here although many businesses are advancing many are not. Soon, I believe they will find it difficult to survive if they don’t change and really the change will be a benefit. Two great books to read about this Open by David Price and The Coming Job Wars by Jim Clifton.

Enjoy! :)

Thoughts from ISTE 1

I've been at ISTE now for 4 days, but really the conference started 2 days ago. There are several things running through my head so this will be a jumble of thoughts:

So many people have swarmed over the Georgia World Congress Center that one can hardly get to some of the places. I have made it to several poster sessions but other interesting sessions have been ticketed or closed. Really these have been interesting and insightful almost more so than the sessions. What I love about the poster sessions is the actual hands-on experiences and we got to hear from students at most of the sessions. So much of what we have heard throughout is the focus on the students and their learning. It is not on the device, it is not on the technology, it is on the learning…as it should be.

Yesterday, I went to a sessions by Gary Stager (Invent to Learn) and came away energized by his focus on students and getting them to learn through making. During his talk, he threw in several quips about focusing on test scores and how some places worry about protecting study time for kindergarten. Really however, his message, and the message that I have been hearing since I came to first ISTE conference has not changed much: Teach are kids for their future and do so in ways that involve the student and give them the skills they will need to continue learning.

So, I ask myself after hearing this same message now for over 10 years: is anybody listening? Those who have come to conference hear this message but do they really live it. I saw a quote on Twitter, mentioning that it is the CULTURE of the building that determines how students learn. Should it also be the CULTURE of our nation that raises our test scores. Do the individuals who are here go back and create such a CULTURE within their classroom so that others can hear this same message? This Twitter quote really sets that up for the building: “@anthsperanza: Mindsets are required for using technology, not only skill sets via @gcouros #ISTE2014″.

Then, I go in the ISTE Expo Center and here is where the questions really come to light as this area is full of gadgets and companies trying to sell one this online learning platform or this gadget or these packages. The one that I really questioned was the one called “Worksheets”. Basically the concept is you create a worksheet, send to students digitally, they do it, send it back, and you can grade it. Really? People will buy this technology? The focus isn't on doing the same things in the same way. If worksheets were such an awesome pedagogy then we'd be focused on still using them day in and day out. However, whether they are electronic or not, worksheets aren't the best so why digitize them and called the tech integration. It's not and the sooner people realize that the better. Again, another Twitter quote comes to mind: “Led by instruction, powered by technology” (Ronald Chandler).

Really getting some great ideas and coming home with lots—Watch out RSHS!



Back to Blogging

I have tried to get back into blogging and what a better way than to do so at ISTE 2014. While I'm not an official blogger for this event, I will be putting my thoughts, notes, and learning on here so that I can remember and get my ideas down. This will be a great way to start gearing up for getting blogging going again. Let's hope this time it lasts!