F2F meeting of PLP participants

Today we went to Toorak College, in Mt.Eliza, and really began the Powerful Learning Practice program, with a face-to-face meeting of all those involved in the Australian group and Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. They both encouraged and challenged us to come aboard on this journey that will officially last until next June.

Keynote Address. One of the keys to 21st century learning is flexibility, the ability to go with the flow when the unexpected happens. Another key phrase, mentioned in the morning sessions, was “adaptive expertise” and that it is how we manage to adapt to our situations that will determine our success. (I had a lot of trouble getting access on-line for the morning sessions, although trying many things. After lunch however, I was suddenly able to get onto the wiki and take part in the sessions talking about the tools we will need to use. As always you just never know!)

Also stressed to us was that we were going to be part  of a community of practices as opposed to a network. The ability to use the tools available is the easy part using them to explore learning is what we are all going to be focused on and the community will share their thoughts, findings about what worked, how, etc. The key to being part of the community is that everyone must contribute to the overall well-being and strength of our group/community. From their past experiences one-day programs did not work so they developed this sustained program that is embedded into the participant’s everyday teaching over a long period. Over this period,  we must all make it a regular task to take part in, comment on, share, etc. along our journey, everyone must be there to make it work.

The world outside schools is changing rapidly; the way political parties conduct their campaigns, the way business is conducted (what people say about a product on-line is now very important), media and journalism, the music and television industries are having to rethink their ideas to their product. What are we doing in schools to prepare our students?

4 parts to social networking:

  1. Sharing
  2. Co-operation
  3. Collaboration
  4. Collective action. Like most of us present, the first three I found familiar with but the last was explained as how we go on to change not just ourselves but the systems and organisations we have around us. This is really what i would like to do of course, change some of the teaching practices in our school to focus on make the students responsible for their learning and making the ways they are learning appropriate, engaging and relevant.

Will and Sheryl talked to us about what we are going to change in our own practices. In fact it is not so much about being a different teacher as all of us becoming different learners.

Much more discussion was about teaching kids to learn the tools well, not just about the content but about what to do with the amount of content they may find, about teaching our students to have a critical eye, not passively consuming information but critically editing it. This aspect should be part of student learning at all levels and across all subject areas.

One website Will showed us was Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, a hoax site talks about an octopus that lives on a tree. Many students do not know that it is a hoax site and do not know how to work out the validity of the site.

Teaching our students to be network literatemust be part of the role of a teacher. Do we want independent active learners or passive, dependantlearners? It may be messy abd random at times and there is a lot of discussion about private vs public. In the future we will all need to be findable, searchable, gettable for our own learning and so will our students. We need to prepare them and help them understand about what others may find out about them when they are findable. We also need to help them to be able to discern who the teachers may be and who may be a predator.

To paraphrase another quote, To maintain the status quo is to become obsolete. Shools and teaching must change to remain vital and relevant to students and their parents.

Of course speaking to all those present was to speak to like-minded individuals so lunch was a very noisy affair. The afternoon was spent looking how the program would be run and what tools would be needed. Many already were users of rss, del.licio.us, twitter, wikispaces, and have had experience of Elluminate. We were also taken through the parts of the ning we will all be using. It was a fantastic start to the program and everyone came away energised and excited by the task ahead.

We got back to our school in time for the staff meeting. You may think that this would be less exciting but tonight we had a number of year 7 students presenting work. They had used audio and video tools. The presentations were wonderful. There were short videos from a variety of subject areas and the students spoke very eloquently about their experiences. A short film, made by one of the teachers, as she observed the boys when they were learning and creating, showed faces intent on the task, faces of boys who were totally immersed in the tasks they had chosen. The engagement and enjoyment of the boys was evident and the higher order thinking shown in the final product was fantastic. Year 7 teachers took on the challenge of using a variety of technology tools to teach the skills this year, the task will be for the teachers in the other year levels to continue the job they began.


One Response

  1. Great to read about your day Rhonda. I look forward to hearing, and reading, much more over the coming weeks. Back at school yesterday our Years 7 to 10 had a presentation about how just one person deciding to make a change can make a difference. One person taking action can gather others along the way, and changes will soon follow.

    Our Year 7s were so good with their presentations: great work being done, and they were so confident talking to our entire staff. It’s lovely to see such exciting work being celebrated.


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