Tuesday, January 09, 2007

About This Session


We received two grants that allowed us to implement a three-year staff development program focusing on constructivism and the use of technology to create a more student-centered approach to teaching and learning. Led by the Curriculum Innovation Team, two cohorts of teachers are re-examining our teaching practices in light of both educational research and the rapidly changing world we live in. We call these cohorts 21st Century Learners, to emphasize to staff, students and parents that all of us need to be life-long learners and that educational practices need to change in order to prepare our students to be successful in the 21st century.

For the past two years each cohort has met approximately once every three weeks to explore learning theory (constructivism), teaching practices (pedagogy), and the use of technology to facilitate learning (21st century learning skills). In addition to the staff development, the grants have allowed us to place a computer and mounted LCD projector in every classroom at our school and implement three classrooms with wireless laptop computers.

This presentation will share our staff development process and our results so far, including specific classroom examples from the teachers who implemented them.

  • Participants will receive an overview of the staff development process focusing on constructivism, technology as a tool to enhance student learning, and collaboration within and among different departments.
  • Participants will hear of the impact on our classroom practices as a result of our study of constructivism and 21st century learning skills.
  • Participants will see the purpose behind creating a Professional Learning Environment in their classroom. The arrangement of the classroom is key to building effective collaboration among students as well as between students and teacher, and raises the level of expectation among students for producing quality learning.
  • Participants will see student reflection on their work in a laptop classroom and the changes that have occurred for them both as a learner (consumer) and as a teacher (producer).
  • Participants will learn the skills necessary to transform Social Studies, English, and Science classrooms into 21st Century classrooms. We will share classroom examples including the use of :

    o blogging for reflective, collaborative, critical thinking, and professional purposes creating a school-wide learning community

    o online primary sources and teaching students how to evaluate and become informed critical thinkers

    o wikis as a review tool, to foster collaborative research among students, to create study guides by and for the students, and to create class-specific textbooks

    o online texts to allow students to interact with the text, document their learning, enhance classroom learning, and collaborate with peers

    o online peer editing, where students examine each others work and reflect upon their own learning

    o podcasting, where students create content for themselves, the community and the world

    o digital storytelling as a reflection on an entire semester’s learning based on an inquiry approach.
  • Participants should have a willingness to learn and a belief that students and teachers can change the world.

The following books have heavily influenced our work:

  1. In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms by Brooks & Brooks
  2. The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards” by Alfie Kohn
  3. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School by National Research Council
  4. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas Friedman
  5. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
  6. A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel Pink
  7. The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons from America from a Small School in Harlem by Deborah Meier
  8. College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready by David Conley
  9. Horace’s Compromise/Horace’s School/Horace’s Hope by Theodore Sizer
  10. Keeping School: Letters to Families from Principals of Two Small Schools by Meier and Sizer
  11. The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil
  12. Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?: Content Comprehension, Grades 6-12 by Cris Tovani
  13. I Read It, But I Don't Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers by Cris Tovani
  14. Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares about Education by Peter Senge
  15. How Students Learn: History, Mathematics and Science in the Classroom by National Research Council
  16. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson

Other Resources:

Our staff development blog.

Our blog exploring/documenting the use of laptop computers.

3 Comments:

Blogger Mason said...

If you had to pick three books from the list of influencers in this post... What top three might you recommend and why?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 6:00:00 PM  
Blogger Karl Fisch said...

I talked with Mason, but for everyone else that might read this . . .

Picking just three is tough, but here goes.

1. If you haven't read The World is Flat, that would have to be one of them. Not that you'll necessarily agree with everything he says, but I think he lays out the territory nicely.

2. The Schools Our Children Deserve is not tech-related, but well worth reading. Alfie Kohn will get you thinking - and perhaps angry at times - but I think that's a good thing.

3. For constructivism, In Search of Understanding is a good, fairly short, introduction.

4. For future-thinking, The Singularity is Near is not easy reading, but fascinating.

Sorry, I know that's four.

Friday, June 22, 2007 3:25:00 PM  
Blogger Brandon Hudson said...

I like your style of writing. You break it down nicely. Very informative post. Keep up the good work.

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