Other NECC09 gems

Some other gems from NECC this year:

  • Getting a chance to hear Angela Maiers discuss Literacy at NECC Unplugged and discussing it with her afterwards.  Angela is passionate about literacy.  Literacy is more than learning how to “read”  it encompasses all aspects of making meaning.  She suggests that we should teach literacy as a LEARNING SKILL.  She breaks down 21st Century literacy proficiency into 4 areas whether you are a young learner reading a book, a HS students  doing research, or reading a Twitter page.  You learn to read and you read to learn.  The 4 Resource Model included:  Code Breakers, Text User, Meaning Maker and Text Critic.  You use all four methods when making meaning  whether the information is printed or digital.  When you understand that the skills, strategy and thinking of reading is the same skill set no matter what you are learning – it transcends all mediums.  I love her analogy of driving a car.  We don’t break down the skills of driving into mini lessons (this is how you turn the steering wheel) – it takes practices to be thinking of where you are going, what’s going on – how you are going to steer the car, etc.. Why then do we continue to break down reading into small parts instead of dealing with all aspects as one???  Anyway, I love taking with someone who loves what they do and any school is lucky to have Angela working with them
  • Listening to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson at a session called Here Comes Learning! and them talking about the great work they are doing with their cohorts at Powerful Learning Practice.  I would love to be involved in a future cohort!
  • Having a personal lesson about Wikispaces from founder Adam Frey during NECC Unplugged.
  • The Blogger’s Cafe – what a fabulous idea.  I loved having a central place to return to after session and review what I just learned with the folks around me.  I think I must have met 50 people f3f who I follow on twitter.
  • Learning more about the National Girl’s Collaborative Project and finally meeting Karen Peterson face to face.  I will definitely be looking at their resources for my Digital Divas 2.o girls tech club this year.

Btw, the last time I checked there were 4675 photos tagged necc09 at Tag Galaxy Check it out!!

Progressive Pedagogy and 21st Century Tools

One of the most inspiring sessions that I went to at NECC09 was Chris Lehmann’s session about Progressive Pedagogy and 21st Century Tools.  I have followed Chris on Twitter for a while now and knew his reputation as a progressive administrator – but never had the chance to hear him speak.

First of all, I love the whole philosophy at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  The school wants students to be thoughtful, wise, passionate and kind.  Their goal is for their kids to be deep thinkers and willing to forgive others of their flaws.  Notice none of these lofty goals are about subjects??? Lehmann states, “We teach kids – not subjects”.  Instead of “I teach physics” – the focus in the students – “I teach kids physics”.

SLA is kid focused and community based.  They want their kids to be passionate about the work they are doing.  I love his quote, “School is real life – not preparation for real life.”  Technology is ubiquitous and invisible in their schools.  Lehmann suggests that we should stop describing our schools as “Schools WITH computers” — of course we have technology – it needs to be part of everything.  SLA is deliberately meta-cognitive – they want to help their students grow to be better thinkers.   Assessment is authentic and transparent.

One of the ways SLA is unique is that their ENTIRE faculty uses the Understanding by Design (Wiggin and McTighe) methodology for curriculum design.  This is very impressive.  Collectively, they have designed unit lessons around 5 core values:  inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflections.  SLA uses common outputs for their curriculum projects with rubrics that evaluate:  design, knowledge, application, process and presentation.  Currently at SLA they are designing commons skill sets that will be taught across all curriculum areas.

Lehmann went on to explain the basic principles of Understanding by Design including establishing goals, essential questions, assessments, and so on.  I studied UBD in my graduate program and I love seeing examples of how it is used in project-based learning.  The activities in any UBD unit needs to be “understanding-drive” – whether you use projects, homework, tests, quizzes or class participation.

Attending his session motivated me to pull out my UBD curriculum plans that I wrote for my Computer Application classes (during my Masters degree) and review them.  I know I need to refocus my efforts and make sure that my activities and assessments are based around established goals and outcomes and the focus is truly on the big picture.

I’m excited to work with my Middle School staff this next year on mapping out how we are infusing technology throughout the whole curriculum.  It will give me an opportunity to share these ideas with my staff and improve the overall quality of our program.

I hope to go to EduCon 2.2 in Philadelphia next year and see firsthand how SLA and their program work.

Link to handouts from session:  http://ubd21c.wikispaces.com/

UbD in a nutshell (pdf):  http://ubd21c.wikispaces.com/file/view/UbD_Nutshell.pdf

We are all winners at NECC

Last night the EduBloggersphere was all a twitter about who was “accepted” and who was “rejected” by NECC conference.  Today, Vicki Davis writes a passionate post titled “Don’t let acceptance or rejection go to your head”.  Vicki reflects about rejection:

The only way to permanently fall is to not get back up. To me, those with the most greatness often go through the greatest rejections of life. And amidst those rejections, they pull themselves together, refocus their understanding of why they’ve been put on this planet, and go on to achieve more than they every would have if they had been “accepted.”

Excellent words.  But my concern about who got in and who didn’t creates a divide among us all.  Aren’t we all in this together?  Why do we have to be “upset” that so-and-so got “rejected” and so-and-so was not.  Here is my comment on Vicki’s blog:

Great thoughts, Vicki.  Not all sessions can be accepted with over 2000 applications to present at NECC.  The “rejection” is more about the growing talent of tech-loving teachers and the camaraderie and eagerness of sharing THAN anyone’s personal ability to give a workshop.  Let’s celebrate the interest in NECC and be positive!!  It’s not about winners or losers – we all win when there is enthusiasm.  We all win when those who were “rejected” take up Steve Hargadon’s offer to share at EduBloggerCon or NECC Unplugged.  Come on folks — let’s stop competing — and start collaborating!

Disclaimer:  My 1st ever NECC session proposal was accepted and I am thrilled and humbled at the same time.  Let’s celebrate LEARNING together!