Thursday, December 30, 2010

Turning Dreams Into Reality

I'll admit, I am a technology junkie.  In my opinion it is not very difficult to quickly become one as a result of the world that we live in.  The challenge for people like me is to develop a school culture that not only places an emphasis on academic rigor and excellence, but also one that promotes learner creativity and imagination.  I truly believe that students who are placed in stimulating environments where their curiosity is peaked, creative juices are unleashed, and their wildest dreams are brought to fruition (well, sort of), increases in achievement will follow.  I feel this short video really sums up what I am trying to say nicely:



With so much emphasis placed on standardized testing and accountability schools have become complacent in meeting the needs of learners in the 21st Century.  School has become like a dreaded chore that no child wants to be a part of.  If systems of education want to see greater advances in achievement maybe they should make better attempts at turning student dreams into reality with resources that are readily available.  These are just my ramblings.  What are your thoughts?

11 comments:

  1. I think you have hit it spot on...if a systemic effort to engage students in their learning was the focus rather than putting the emphasis on standardized testing, what would teaching and learning look like? Imagine a building where the adults were focused on student engagement first and foremost. I think 'Engagement' should be the umbrella term with technology, assessment, etc supporting the umbrella.

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  2. Eric - I am with you whole-heartedly. My level of discomfort increases daily as my own children grow older. My seventh grade son recently asked me why school is so boring. He was a high honor roll student every term in the sixth grade. Amazingly enough, he accomplished it all with a very low level of engagement.

    I am not sure if I am misguide, but I think it all centers around engagement. As the video points out we live in an age where tools for engagement are plentiful. Why are we so hesitant to use them?

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  3. Patrick: More admin need to establish a vision that promotes these types of learning environments and follow this up with tons of support. Teachers need to take more risks.

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  4. Eric,

    Thanks for sharing a great post. I was asked a simple question a few weeks ago by my principal @mrgrimshaw - "Would kids show up to your class if attendance was optional?" This question really got me thinking about my class and if or whether my students would actually show up if they were not being "forced." As a society we have the world at our finger tips, and it is crucial we start making discovery, exploration, reflection, and autonomy our new key principles in schools.

    The current model of education is old (really old), and some parts are great, while other parts need to be completely eliminated. We need to concentrate on engaging EVERYONE! Students, educators, parents, and communities need to come together and address perhaps the biggest issue of the 21st century, education. Parents and community members need to be in our schools and in our classes...students need to be on committees and panels...everyone needs to have input to increase the level of engagement. Engagement is not just for students... engagement is for our entire society.

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  5. My sense is that we are in a "gap" period with some teachers and technology. There are some teachers who are still intimidated by it. I agree with Eric that as a principal I have to nurture a safe place for them to take risks.

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  6. Eric,

    Another thoughtful post… thanks for sharing your thoughts. I could not agree more with you. As Justin mentioned, would students show up if they were not required to? My son is 5 and currently attends preschool. When I ask him what he did at school he always responds, “I played”. Then with a series of more probing questions I see what he was learning during that play time. The entire curriculum is based on “play” and the results are engaged kids who love school and learning. They choose what centers they go to and what they want to learn about in their play.
    While I am not suggesting we let kids come to my junior high and play all day… but there might be something to that. Let kids choose what they want to learn and give them that inherent passion they are born with. One of the keys to me in this is the power of choice and empowering students which will ultimately lead to more learning. http://stumpteacher.blogspot.com/2010/12/power-of-choice.html

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  7. Sir Ken Robinson recently said, "The incidence of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth of standardized testing." Creativity, imagination, and even play are being thrown overboard in many schools, and it's costing a generation of children (and their society) dearly.

    I work in a high school, and most of the students are experts with Facebook, texting, and video games. Beyond that, they don't really know too much about Web 2.0 possibilities. I've found that as I combine more and more technology-based requirements with their reading and writing activities, students will actually do more than is required of them.

    When technology is involved, work begins to seem like play. And play is how we stimulate the creativity and imagination that you so rightly champion in this blog post.

    Thanks.

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  8. Great post. Gary, you bring up an interesting point- kids don't know too much about Web 2.0 possibilities. I think a lot of resistance to incorporate technology into education comes from parents, teachers, and administrators who see technology as a distraction to children, and who see it being used for "recreational" purposes only (personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, violent video games, etc). Kids love computers and the Web, so the goal should be to teach them to use technology for productive, educational purposes.

    http://news.university-bound.com/

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  9. Alli -- When learning starts to look like fun, some people get nervous. Technology can be fun and worthwhile.

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  10. Eric! Great post! I love the videos that accompany your writings. As the Principal of a small Northern Ontario high school, you can imagine how making any change, especially when it comes to technology, can be difficult. Last year we started an "iPods in the Classroom" project. I bought iPods for all my staff and we trained them and had them do "App research" for an entire semester before we implemented with the kids. This gave the staff some confidence as we knew the students would be miles ahead of them anyway. So far so good. We've seen great results. Students are more engaged and attending. We've moved into cell phones and texting now. The staff appear to be having fun and although they still have some fears, they are letting the students teach them.

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  11. Very effective blog thanks for sharing

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