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Sitting in Yesterday's Classrooms (redirected from Sitting in Yesterdays Classrooms)

Page history last edited by Bill 9 years, 10 months ago

Sitting in Yesterday's Classrooms


Direct link to this page: http://bit.ly/fraserheightsjan2013


One of the more uncomfortable truths that teachers need to wrestle with is the reality that despite years of conversations about the role that technology can play in changing learning spaces, today's students still spend the majority of their time sitting in yesterday's classrooms.  While schools and districts continue to make digital tools available to their teachers and students -- either through new investments or policies that allow students to bring their own technology into the classroom -- the content that kids are tackling and the lessons that teachers are delivering often remain the same.  Teachers at Fraser Heights Secondary School in Surrey, BC, will wrestle with that reality in this lunch conversation facilitated by Bill Ferriter -- a full-time classroom teacher and #edtech expert from Raleigh, North Carolina.




Today's Slides





Today's Handout



The document above is the primary handout for today's session.  It contains a series of reflection questions that participants will be asked to think about with their lunch partners.  It also contains additional contact information for session presenter Bill Ferriter.



Critical Question - ARE Today's Students Sitting in Yesterday's Classrooms?


Bill has never riled up a group of teachers more than when he suggested that teachers are failing when their students sit in the same kinds of classrooms learning the same kinds of lessons as their parents and grandparents:



He was instantly buried in hate mail from deeply passionate practitioners pointing out all of the flaws in his logic -- but is there any truth in his argument? 


Questions to Consider:


What is your initial reaction to Bill's argument that today's students are often stuck sitting in yesterday's classrooms?  Do you agree with him?  Disagree with him?  Does his argument make you angry at all?  What evidence can you provide to support or refute his position?  Is there any truth in his argument?


What is your initial reaction to Bill's argument that it is teachers who are failing when classrooms remain unchanged year-after-year?  Are teachers responsible for leading the kinds of changes that educational experts like Will Richardson, Dean Shareski and George and Alec Couros advocate for?  When those changes are slow to come, are classroom teachers to blame?  Why and/or why not?



Change Doesn't Have to Be Revolutionary


The good news for teachers who are just as passionate about reimagining their learning spaces is that change doesn't have to be revolutionary.  Instead, change starts by using digital tools to give students opportunities to master essential skills while simultaneously doing work that matters.  The best example from Bill's own work with students is a project where his kids are using Kiva -- a microlending website -- to learn required language arts and social studies objectives while fighting global poverty all at once.  To date, they've loaned out over $13,000 to over 400 people in 28 different countries.


Learn more about this project by exploring the links below:


One Tweet CAN Change the World - In this post from his blog, session presenter Bill Ferriter explains the origins of his classroom Kiva project.  More importantly, he details the direct connections between Kiva lending and his curriculum and provides a series of links to handouts and materials that other teachers interested in Kiva lending can use in their own work with students. 


We Kiva Because Video - In this video created by session presenter Bill Ferriter's Kiva Club, student members explain the reasons behind their choices to become Kiva lenders.  What resonates throughout the video is the sense that every student sees Kiva as an opportunity to do work that matters. 


Poverty's Real Video - This video was created by two of session presenter Bill Ferriter's Kiva Club students in order to market the work of the club to potential sponsors.  It is a sample of the kinds of meaningful curricular lessons -- lessons on persuasion, content creation, and visual influence -- that are possible when students are engaged in Kiva lending. 


Salem Middle School Kiva Tripline - This Tripline -- or interactive timeline -- is another tool that session presenter Bill Ferriter's Kiva Club uses to track their influence and to raise attention to what's possible when people embrace Kiva as a way to make a difference and to do work that matters. 


Additional Microlending Resources - Because session presenter Bill Ferriter is so passionate about using microlending as a way to give students opportunities to do work that matters, he writes about it often.  You can find additional microlending resources on his professional development wiki here, in the materials that his Kiva Club used for a Simple K12 webinar hereon his blog here, and in the handout section for his book on teaching with technology here



Question to Consider:


Can you see evidence of students mastering the kinds of core academic skills and content knowledge that are required by curricula guides in Bill's microlending work?  Would your students be motivated by opportunities to do this kind of work in the classroom?  Perhaps more importantly, can you imagine new opportunities to give students chances to wrestle with real world problems AND master essential outcomes all at the same time? 



Helping Math and Science Teachers to Reimagine their Classrooms


The participants who often struggle the most with Bill's examples of the changing nature of teaching and learning in the 21st Century are often math and science teachers, who WANT to redesign their instruction, but aren't sure how digital tools can fit into the work that they do with students. 


Bill often points those teachers to the blog of Dan Meyer -- an internationally recognized expert at curriculum and instruction in the math classroom.  While Dan doesn't write exclusively about teaching with technology, his ideas about what good math classrooms should look like are often really valuable starting points for participants.


Many math teachers find this Dan Meyer Ted Talk --  titled Math Class Needs a Makeover -- to be a provocative starting point for conversations about how math class needs to change in order to better engage today's students.


Bill also points science teachers to the real world "work that matters" that is being done in the science and humanities classes of High Tech High School in San Diego, where students spend the entire year studying the habitats of the Bay area and then publishing a field guide that is used by everyone from environmental scientists to local politicians interested in looking for solutions to improve the overall health of the Bay. 


And Bill recommends that math teachers think about getting their kids to create and evaluate the statistical information that surrounds them.  Whether they are blogging about the quality of the data presented by popular news sources on important issues or creating their own infographics designed to persuade, manipulating numbers -- or helping others to recognize when they are being manipulated -- could form the foundation of "doing work that matters" in almost any mathematics classroom. 


Finally, many math and science teachers also turn to the conversations and resources being shared by other math and science teachers using the #mathchat hashtag or the #scichat hashtag in Twitter for ideas. 


While the content shared there isn't always going to be connected to your unique grade level or subject -- and while the content shared there won't always be revolutionary or inspiring -- if you spend enough time following the stream of contributions, you will definitely find ideas that can help to push you forward no matter where you're starting from.  

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