T4T conversation summary: Day 1

Our iGeneration Voicethread is off to a great start, y’all! Your comments—which are coming from everyone from classroom teachers to professional development providers and principals—are all fantastic and will definitely spark thinking and conversation.

Keep it up, huh?  By Saturday afternoon, we’ll all have a better understanding of the possibilities and pitfalls of teaching for tomorrow.

If you’re interested in finding interesting strands quickly, try these:

Becky Goerend starts an interesting strand on slide one when she points out that students in rural communities don’t often have an awareness of what’s possible with digital tools simply because their lives haven’t been as heavily influenced by opportunities to reach beyond the local community.

That makes me wonder how effective digital change efforts in rural communities differ from digital change efforts in urban or suburban communities.

There are constant conversations about the urgency of introducing economically disadvantaged students to technology.  Do we need the same urgency in introducing rural students to technology?

Matt Townsley starts another interesting strand on slide one when he points out that novelty wears off quickly for students using technology.  My question is do teachers and schools over-rely on novelty when introducing new technologies?

Are we somehow hoping that novelty will lead to results?  And better yet, what is the solution to pushing novelty to the background and placing the focus of our change efforts where they belong:  On sound pedagogy and interesting content?

On Slide 2, Adam Garry and Paul Cancellieri-–better known as Mister Monkey in our Voicethread—both talk about the idea that schools as they currently exist are going to be obsolete before long.  Teaching students to connect beyond the walls of our classrooms is the greatest need for our schools and for our kids.

My question is a simple one:  What are the barriers to pulling off this outward orientation in every classroom—-and what practical strategies can schools take to address those barriers?

Meg Ormiston makes an important point on slide five when she explains that classroom management isn’t a issue when students have choice over the products that they create because motivation levels are high.  That got me wondering whether students should have some choice over the content that they learn as well.

I’m also curious about the factors that make student choice—either in products or in content—so rare in our instructional practices? Is anyone successfully incorporating elements of student choice into your classrooms?  How?

Probably my favorite thought posted during the first day of the conversation comes from Adam Garry.  On slide six, Adam recommends changing the way that information flows in a classroom.

In traditional classrooms, he explains, information flows from the teacher to the student.  In student centered classrooms, however, information flows from teacher to student, student to teacher, students to other students, and students to those beyond the room.

By that definition, I wonder how many student centered classrooms we really have in our schools.  I’m also curious about the impact that the incredible breadth in our curricula has on the ability for information to flow in multiple directions in the typical classroom.

A pointer for participants:  Many users have asked whether it is possible for one person to leave more than one comment on each slide.  The answer is yes—and I hope you will!  Ongoing dialogue between participants around one concept is what makes a conversation healthy.

When you do, though, you won’t see a new icon added around our focusing quote.  In order to keep a slide from getting cluttered with icons, whenever a participant adds a second comment to a slide, Voicethread adds the comment to the conversation without adding a new icon.

Other participants will know that you’ve added a second comment by looking at the timeline found beneath each slide, where they will see a new yellow comment tab.  They will also see a yellow box—and a groovy yellow speech bubble—surrounding your icon.

Here’s to hoping that you’ll take the time to stop by our conversation before it ends on Saturday!  Not only will you learn a ton….we’ll learn a ton from you!