I have taken to heart the concept of students owning their learning. In my last math class, I gave my students real-life problems to solve and instead of guiding them through the process, they worked together to solve the problems on their own. I made sure that they communicated with each other, so that one student did not do all of the work while the others watched. Each member of the small group had to be able to explain the way in which the problem was solved. Then they recorded their answers using iPods, and finally we will be publishing these videos on the internet.
The students were more engaged than I have ever seen them. Further, they demonstrated a sense of responsibility in explaining the methods to the students who had more difficulty following the process. I feel that this was a successful acitivity on so many different levels.
Our Vice Principal, Lori Binder, didn’t want to wait for a staff meeting to share when she could send a little of the excitement our teachers’ way this morning. Here’s an email she sent to our staff.
I just returned from the edJEWcon conference in Jacksonville, Florida, along with Ashley, Karen and Judy. We went as a team to this conference sponsored by AVI CHAI and run by the Martin J Gottlieb Day School, accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools. You can check out the edJEWcon website for amazing resources or check out the MJGDS school’s website. We were the only Canadian school present and were part of a learning community that included Community Day Schools (RAVSAK), Conservative Day Schools (Schechter) and Orthodox Day Schools.
There is so much to share and the learning community we were involved with really challenged our thinking about our students and 21st century learning. This was definitely an expansion of the work started by the Social Media committee (the result of my CAIS Change Project) and will hopefully help with the professional development we implement as we move forward. It has definitely expanded my thinking with the Social Media project and in a positive way has brought it to an important focus.
Please check out our blog to get a sense of what took place at edJEWcon – as well as links to amazing keynote speakers including Heidi Hayes Jacobs of the book Curriculum 21. We would love for you to reply to our blog after reading it.
Some of the amazing education leaders we met included Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (online known as Langwitches) who has amazing resources on her blog or through her website and Andrea Hernandez who has the EdTechWorkshop blog. Both are 21st century learning coaches at the Martin J Gottlieb Day School.
Below are a few videos to check out, as well.
Passion in Education from @langwitches (Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano)
21st Century Learning Reflection – Where the Martin J Gottlieb Day School Was (no staff emails in 2010) to where they are now (leaders in 21st century learning)
After two days at edJEWcon, we’re definitely feeling a bit of information overload, but according to Heidi Hayes Jacobs from Curriculum 21, a little bit of uneasiness is a good thing.
At her keynote address this morning, Hayes Jacobs encouraged us to consider which year we are preparing our kids for, and challenged us to reflect that in our mission statement.
- Heidi Hayes Jacobs
We don’t know about other schools, but we don’t want our mission to reflect the idea that we’re setting our students up for the past. Starting today, we’re looking to the future – a slightly uncomfortable future.
For us, this new start requires us to change our language as much as our approach. It was very poignant when edJEWcon leaders pointed out that we’re already 11.3% into the 21st century. We’re no longer looking to a 21st century approach, we’re there (or supposed to have been there for over a decade). Instead, we’re looking for our “right now” approach. And in order for us to be effective educators, we have to commit to being lifelong learners – lifelong learners that are willing to let our students own their educational experience.
In order to accomplish this, we need to reach our students where they’re at. In Hayes Jacobs’ words, “We can fight the sea change or learn to navigate it.” This means embracing today’s literacies. Our intent is the same (to inform, to persuade, or to give perspective), but we’ve learned that if we want our students to be prepared for their futures, the tools we use to get there have to change to meet their needs.