Working, Breathing, Reproducible, Intriguing Models

Students blogging, creating content, manipulating text, graphics and video, designing and producing projects and all that technology and Web 2.0 has to offer – Wow! It’s so obvious what dynamic, mind stretching and engaging platforms technology, problem-based and project-based learning are!!! Or is it so obvious?

Who gets the most excited and visionary about this stuff? – Probably anyone that might actually be reading this post. I’ll bet few if anyone that isn’t already doing “Messy” learning is checking out this or any other blogs that teach, preach or discuss it. We hear about “The New Story,” or “The Read/Write Web in the Classroom,” but who else but the choir reads, hears or cares about any of it?

The gurus trip around the country and the world physically and virtually to spread the word, but who goes to these conferences or subscribes to these podcasts (or even knows what a podcast is?)? The masses of teachers and administrators looking to be enlightened? No! (well maybe a few, but VERY few) The early adopters that see and saw the implications straightforward are the few and the brave. So the questions have been asked and numerous and various answers have been proposed about how to change how school is done and how using these “New Tools” fit into that scheme and how do we get the message out?

Do the gurus continue to guru? (How do you guru? – don’t ask just try to follow along) Yes, that is certainly part of the equation. Do we continue to blog about it? Absolutely! The conversation is the point! What is missing are the models – the working, breathing, reproducible, intriguing models. We need ongoing models of all the power of what this looks like or we get nowhere.

Yeah I know there are examples out there – but my staff and my administrators and my congressman and senator and school board probably aren’t jetting out to Maine to observe Bob Sprankle’s class or any other of the teachers and students doing this kind of school.

YOU IDIOT!!! – You’re thinking or maybe yelling at your monitor – you and your staff can go to Bob Sprankle’s class or any of a list of teachers using blogs and video and web 2.0 applications – via the web!!!! Yes, yes I know… cool down … I know that. I can pull up one of Bob’s productions – for example his class made a recent vodcast about how they produce their podcasts – way cool – I GET IT!

BUT – (notice I made it a big but) I GET IT! I could run around my school and district showing teachers and administrators Bob’s kids’ vodcast and I might even get a few people excited – but most WON”T GET IT! You can’t just show most people – you have to show them and explain it to them and then answer their questions and then show it to them again and then explain it to them again and then show them how this relates to things they already do – takes the place of this and makes it even better and does this and this and this! I’m telling you they will think the vodcast was kinda cool… would be an interesting thing for their kids to do once if they had the equipment and the time and someone to show them how to do it. But they won’t get it until they experience you doing it and getting them to do it…several times … and talk about it and have them notice their students’ reaction and learning and how they talk about it and how excited their parents get about it. Wes Fryer talks about Face 2 Face – that’s it… that’s what I’m talking about.

So where is everyone that does this? Are there whole schools that do this? Districts? Where’s the list? – we should all post it and send it around – where will people see this that is as easy and as accessible as possible? Is there DATA that goes with any of these teachers or schools or districts that do this? (yeah, I don’t need the DATA but some will require the DATA). Maybe there’s downloadable video of some of this – I know where some is… where’s a lot more? Better yet, are their teachers – “Old School” teachers that have come to this that can speak about what their experience has taught them? I think that would be a powerful “New Story.”

We need working, breathing, reproducible, intriguing models available in many places for many to see and experience to leverage the gurus and the online examples. Should we build the clearinghouse – any volunteers?
Learning is messy!

This entry was posted in Blogging, Digital Video, Education, Project Based, Student Access, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Working, Breathing, Reproducible, Intriguing Models

  1. Brett Hinton says:

    Well spoken. My experience is, you have to say it, show it, say it again, show it, and then tell them again that this is going to make things better, easier, more engaging, etc. It is an exhausting process to advocate these things sometimes. Thank goodness for some others who are going through the same thing and keep sharing their ideas when yours run out. The value of the “conversation” is that it takes you beyond where you can get on your own.

    I think the wiki hosted by David Warlick about the New Story provides a potential clearinghouse. In addition to the stories of implementation and the other 2 categories I can’t recall at the moment, it would seem relevant to include sample models like you have mentioned. I think a wiki would provide a great collaborative space to build the clearinghouse, perhaps with some type of collaborative blog attached. I think building on current efforts is important, that is why I suggested using Warlick’s project, but if you want something different I’ll offer the web space and I’ll set up a MediaWiki site and attach a blog to it if necessary.

    What did you have in mind?

  2. Messy Teaching/Learning is not easier. Better, but not easier. Teaching and learning has always been about repetition. Just because they are teachers doesn’t mean they will learn faster. History tells us that bringing change to education takes decades. Change in higher education may compete with biological evolution for speed.
    It is great that messy teachers can find each other much more easily now than they could 10 years ago. I used to think that I was the only one (how conceited can one get!)

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  8. Wesley Fryer says:

    Two schools I would add to your list: Mabry Middle School in Cobb County, Georgia, led by principal Tim Tyson should be there, so should Willowdale Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska.

    These schools may not be “doing it” with technology, but they are doing it with student engagement and teachers designing lessons– check out the Schlechty Center’s Standard-Bearer Network districts.

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