Rebooting Education #edudreamer

@MrBrettClark 10 Comments

The reboot. It's one of the biggest things going in movies right now. It seems like a large chunk of the movies coming to a theater near you are the same ones that appeared in theaters or on TVs not that long ago.  From the new Batman Trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Total Recall to TV shows like The Smurfs, The A Team, and Dark Shadows.

What if we could "reboot" our schools?  What would we change?

The Star of the Show


The first thing I would change is who is the star of the show.  Think about every movie made about education.  Who does the movie focus on? From Stand and Deliver to The Ron Clark Story, the teacher is the center of the story.  If we are going to reboot education it must start with recasting our students into the lead roles.

How about having your students run open house this year instead of you? Are we afraid what they might say to a room full of parents? Are we afraid we might actually have a room full of parents at open house if we involve their children in the event?

Here's a question I think we need to ask ourselves: who is my classroom a reflection of? Is it a reflection of me, my subject(s), or my students?  I would dare that most classrooms are a reflections of the teacher and his/her subject before it's a reflection of the students who fill it.

If I could, I'd love to start off each year with an empty classroom and a budget.  Then spend the first few days sitting on the floor with my new students designing our classroom.  Once we worked out all the details we would go out and purchase all of the furniture and technology needed for our classroom. Think about all of the great learning that would take place if we could start off our year like that.

The Special Effects


One of the biggest advantages movie makers of today have is the use of technology in their productions.  There are many movies being made today that could have never been made without today's technology.  On the flip side of that, we have all seen that movie that just used special effects because they could and it ended up taking away from the story. (Yes I'm looking at you 3D technology.)

We simply can not use technology just for the sake of using technology.  This is becoming one of the hardest things for schools to resist.  There is a tremendous amount of pressure to use technology in the classroom.  Unfortunately, a large portion of the technology tools being used in schools are too pricy, quickly outdated, and don't really add anything to the classroom.

As my friend Nicholas Provenzano recently put it in a blog post, an ed-tech leader must be able to look beyond the bells and whistles.  The technology has got to add value to the classroom.  What's being done in the classroom is much more important that what it's being done with.  If all we ever do is change the tool but never change the teaching there is no difference between the two classrooms below.




The Storyline

When setting out to reboot a movie franchise there must be a change in how the story is told.  Or else there is no point in redoing the movie.  If the Christopher Nolan Batman movies were just like the Tim Burton Batman movies, what would be the point?  Sure the special effects would be better, but nothing else.

I recently participated in a Google+ hangout with some awesome educators.  We were learning about and discussing Anastasis Academy.  One of the new teachers joining their staff, Summer Howarth spoke about how school has become very predictable.  It really struck a chord with me.  It made me ask myself, how is school different now from when I was a student?  



I know that's nothing new.  We all know that school has essentially been the same for a very long time but I guess with summer coming to a close it got me thinking about what we could do differently.  We have got to make some changes to the script.  We can not continue to do school as we have always done it.  What was good enough for grandma and grandpa is not good enough for the students we have today.  It's time we changed the storyline.

Hit the comment section!

A couple of thoughts to consider for the comment section:

1) As summer comes to a close, how are you going to change the storyline?
2) If you could "reboot" education, what changes would you make?

Of course all comments are welcome!


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Going from better to different! #EVSCREV12 #edudreamer

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Today we kicked off The EVSC eRevolution in Evansville, IN.  This is my school district's anual technology conference.  It started off the year our high schools went 1:1 and has grown over the last 3 years.  This is our 4th conference but for the first time we opened it up to others outside our district.

These are just some thoughts from day 1 as I unwind!

Registration:
I personally checked in over 200 people as they arrived at the conference.  I loved the instant energy that I felt as these teachers walked through the doors.  It's always exciting to see educators come ready to share and learn!

Being a connected educator:
The first session I presented today was about being a connected educator.  Tom Whitby and Kristin Daniels joined us through a Google+ hangout.  We had a great discussion with our attendees about what it means to be connected, why we should be connected, and how to become connected.  Tom has so much passion about connecting people.  I enjoyed watching people immediately sign into the Educators' PLN Ning and sign up while he was talking.  Kristen has a great story about how she first joined twitter, tweeted once, and didn't tweet for about two more years.  Then she started following a hashtag at a conference and discovered the power of becoming a connected educator.

Sessions like this always help me to see that more and more teachers are no longer the keeper of knowledge but the connector or knowledge.

Keynote with Will Richardson

There is so much I could say here that this probably deserves it's own post at some point and time.  First of all, Will is a great person and just a lot of fun to be around.  I had the pleasure a few months back of interviewing Will for a blog post and I got to spend some time with him the night before the conference.   He is passionate about not just making education better but making it different.

A few thoughts from Will's keynote:

There were technical issues (figures) and we never did get his slides up on the projector.  However, he handled it like a pro and gave his presentation flawlessly!

We have to look at what our endgame is for public education.  If all we are concerned about is passing test then we need to seriously rethink school.

How do we define learning? Ask 50 people that question and you'll get a wide variety of answers but most of what we define as learning isn't assessed on standardized test.

"If we don't assess what we value, then we'll end up valuing what we assess" - Will Richardson

Educators need to be able to Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn.

Learn: Teachers must be seen as learners.  Do our students know how we learn?

Unlearn 3 things: Curriculum delivery, assessments, and competition.

Relearn: Curriculum is everywhere, try an "open network" assessment, and cooperate!

"I want my children to be found by strangers online." - Will Richardson

Will was speaking to the fact that when you get connected you learn from people all over the world.

Screencasting 101

Brian Bobbitt and I did a session about screencasting.  It was fun to discuss with teachers about the many uses of screencasting.  It's not just for flipclass and has many application.

Digital Detox

I spent the rest of the day in our digital detox station.  This is an area of the media center that was inspired by a blog post from John Spencer.  It's pretty simple, plug in your devices into one of our charging stations, have a seat a table.  The tables had plato, board games, origami, puzzles, and legos.  I sat down with three other teachers, played with plato and just connected with these educators.  It was the most relaxing part of the day and one of the most enjoyable parts of the day.



Conclusion

This is an exciting time to be an educator!

We have to be more than better, we have to be different.

We must continue to engage people (educators, parents, politicians and the community) in conversations about learning and the value of school.

The change that we need in education is not easy but it's not impossible.

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