Garth and I have had a pretty incredible past two years. Besides being able to connect our students and collaborate on curriculum and technology initiatives; Garth and I have been able to travel to some amazing conferences and meet true innovators from around the world. We realized just how awesome it was when we returned to Boston for BLC12 this year and were able to reconnect with people we usually only see via twitter avatars.Another very exciting thing happened this summer. Alan November and William Kist both published books concerning technology in education. Garth and I are truly humbled, speechless and appreciative to be included in both texts. Both books are about using technology in education to connect students to the world and allowing them to leave their legacy.
After we were friends for a year or two Garth and I both admitted that we have always wanted to write books . While we are not their yet, having our thoughts, our work and our words included in the books of these two great men inspires us to keep pushing education for our student's sake. It is a surreal experience to know that the world is watching. We plan to use these two books to help inspire and drive our students to achieve even greaterWhile these books cannot mention specific students or show some of our students' work over the past six years, Garth and I know that we owe everything to them. It is one thing to stand up in front of the class and ask them to create Medieval characters and
document their lives over three hundred years, or write your own textbook for students around the world to read, but is quite an undertaking to inspire students to complete these tasks for no points, no grades, no credit. The amazing thing about our work is not the product of the students (although it is breath-taking sometimes), it is the fact that we are finding ways to create life-long learners that are inspired to have a voice in the world. Our students want to leave positive digital footprints. Our students want to help others learn. Our students want to independently investigate information for the sake of answering their own essential questions. Below is the closing lines of a poem by Taylor Mali
, my favorite poet. It says it all, better than I ever could. Thank you Students and Garth for believing in me and allowing me to go along this most excellent journey with you!!..."I just gave you what I knew you needed
before you had to ask for it.
Education is the miracle, I’m just the worker.
But I’m a teacher.
And that’s what we do."
Here is the presentation and back channel link for today's session hosted by Garth and I at BLC11 (10am)Back Channel: http://todaysmeet.com/BLC11Studentlegacy BLC11 Collaborative GoogleDoc
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Alan November gave a TED talk about students creating a legacy. In the NYED talk he referenced our work with the Online Textbook.
He asked the following three questions on his blog
- What are the opportunities for authentic work for students within the current structure of school?
- Can we really expect all students to make a contribution to the learning community?
- How do we help teachers manage the shift of control to the students making much more of a contribution to their own learning and to the community?
Please comment here or visit Alan's Blog
. Our comments in his blog are below.
Mike and I are using skype and google docs right now to talk about this video and the ideas you presented in the talk. At different districts our students developed the online textbook you referenced in the talk. We have a few thoughts and comments for your readers. But lets start with a quote from a 12 year old: “A student cannot master what is in the darkness, if there is not someone to light the way”
Within the current structure of schools, authentic learning is an uphill battle. The true opportunities for authentic learning exist in the determination of teachers willing to take calculated risks and change education back to teaching. Authentic learning exist only through the hearts, minds and classrooms of teachers willing to create a partnership with their students. You referenced Dan Pink’s book Drive. Garth and I are driven in our work. We want students to leave a digital legacy, take ownership of their learning, and create knowledge not just for us and the front of their refrigerators at home, but for all people. To us, teaching is about heart and passion, our drive. Learning is not about teachers, it is about students. We facilitate opportunities for students to follow their passions and learn the way that is best for them. The classroom is a partnership. That partnership extends outside of the classroom, across districts and reaches around the globe via technology.
We believe all students have the ability to contribute to the learning community. Teachers must help students discover ways to create their legacy. In the online textbook students are leaving their legacy through podcasting, cartooning, text, etc. We laid the foundation and allow students to create the structure using their strengths.
In order to help manage the shift of control students must become active members in the process. During a recent conference, we took six seventh grade students with us to document the day. These students interviewed teachers, attend sessions and then produced and edited three videos (links below) in five hours. The students then presented their work to the 400+ teachers attending the workshop. It was complete role-reversal; students documented our day, instead of us collecting data concerning their day. We must also afford teachers an environment that encourages calculated risk taking, trying new methodology and stepping back to allow students to lead their learning. It’s scary to give control to students; can kids talk, laugh, type on a computer, gaze out the window while learning? YES. Teachers need to realize that if we look at how we learn research shows that the more difficultly the task, the more social it should be. We need to open our minds to a more social education. The time has come.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f1ffiicEpzOjyY
Student overview of the conferencehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuliXltnfXE
Response to Vision for k-12 Education Today
Mike and Garth
“Be the change you want to see in the world” -Gandhi
Yesterday was a very special day for Garth and myself. Yes, it was a snow day, but more importantly, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Alan November
. We met Alan several months ago at an Ohio technology conference where Garth and I presented and Alan was the keynote. For those that have never read, listened to or heard of Alan November; he is a very inspiring man with great ideas about technology in education. While Garth and I are usually interviewing people for this site, Alan interviewed us for his podcast series
.The scope of our conversation revolved around three big topics: The online textbook created by our (Garth and mine) students, helping students leave a positive legacy through technology and education, and collaboration/self-reflection of Garth and myself.The online textbook is a (going on) five year project in which students have been creating digital content based on the world history standards in Ohio. The idea of the legacy students leave, fascinated me. It was the first time that I had heard someone refer to students' work as their legacy. It struck me and really put into perspective what we, teachers, do everyday. Garth and I have written several blogs about the connections we create with students, the skills we teach them that are beyond any government regulated standards and the impact teachers have on the world. But hearing the word legacy gave me a new perspective on how I teach. As a teacher, I want to leave my legacy both on my students and on the institution of education. Allowing students to understand that they too are leaving a legacy helps connect me with my students. Tomorrow, when we finally return from our two snow days, I plan on starting class talking about this idea. I want students to understand that we share the same goals, that my class is a journey that I am taking with them; sometimes as the leader, sometimes just as a passenger.The third point that we discussed with Alan, reflection and long-term planning is something that I took for granted. Garth has always been a long-range thinker. He understands the scope of what we do and sees the need to be prepared for the future. Both of us have always been very reflective about every aspect of our lives. Almost to the point of depression. Teachers that are not reflective do not change. They do not advance themselves, they do not take risks and they
do a dis-service to their students by being complacent. Reflective teachers are never happy with what they do, they are constantly questioning their methodology, philosophical beliefs and choices. Even when what they are doing may be great...there is always a better way! Speaking with inspirational people like Alan helps me keep in perspective just how much growing I still have to do.
there is always some new technology, new methodology or new way to approach the issue of teaching. Always change, always grow and always take risks. Sometimes you will fail, sometimes you will succeed; but all the time students will respect your honesty, courage and empathy. At after standardized tests are taken, diplomas are handed out and students go out into the "real world", they won't remember the capital of Djibouti, Newton's 3 laws, or Pi. They will remember the connections you made with them, what you taught them about digital footprints, how you showed them what empathy really is and how you never judged them based on spelling ability or background. Be the best you can be...if not for you, then for them.-Mike
tonight we spoke with Scott Sibberson, technology specialist at Dublin Jerome High School. Scott's bio is below the podcast. Garth and Scott met via Twitter and Garth was interested in Scott's Tweets and what was going on at Jerome High. Scott talked about how listening to Alan November's BLC 10 conference motivated him to find new ways to use technology to create PLNs (Personal Learning Networks). Scott discussed the plans for rolling out Twitter in his building. We will talk with Scott in a few months to see how it is going as well as talking about some of the technology projects teachers in his building are doing.
Garth, Steph and I are currently listening to Alan November speak at a technology conference at Bowling Green State University. He started with a question: "what is the most important skill we should be teaching students?". Alan then said that the president of HSBC, West Point University and a college professor all said that it should be EMPATHY. Interesting talk Mr. November is giving about all the ways we, as teachers, should be using technology, but he is very pessimistic about teachers changing, giving students more control and bringing social networking into the classroom. Great talking points, lots to think about. More from the road as it occurs.