Hall Davidson, nationally known speaker with Discovery Education, inspired over 1000 participants, presenters, and vendors last week at the Upstate Technology Conference to meet the needs of today’s learner. He challenged us to create interactive student centered lessons using free technological resources that are available at our fingertips. When asked why teachers are not engaging students in the learning process, the answer was not the lack of funds, or the lack of good teachers, but the lack of a shared vision. This revelation exposes how crucial it is that we form professional learning communities with the shared vision of revolutionizing our schools.
According to Education Week, “learning is no longer preparation for the job, it is the job. In a world in which information expands exponentially, today’s students are active participants in an ever-expanding network of learning environments. They must learn to be knowledge navigators, seeking and finding information from multiple sources, evaluating it, making sense of it, and understanding how to collaborate with their peers to turn information into knowledge, and knowledge into action.”
Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. “He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligences.” It is true that most adults don’t enjoy what they do for a living, they simply endure their jobs until the week-end. But there are others who love what they do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Their work defines who they are. Listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s inspirational talk at TED in February 2010 and see how we can help students find their talents and abilities.
It will require extra planning, more conversations with colleagues, time spent researching while we break out of our comfort zones and share the successful (and not so successful stories) we experience in the classroom. We need to form professional learning communities within our schools, district and across the state with teachers, administrators, university professors and student teachers as we collaborate about the best ways to help students find their talents. We need learning teams to help us become better teachers.
This summer as you prepare for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year, challenge yourself to incorporate more student centered activities. Choose one project that you could easily add to an existing unit and observe your students as their interest, excitement, and achievement soars. Give your students choices about how they’d like to learn. Incorporate the multiple intelligences in your lessons and add a technology feature. Check back on the Upstate Technology Conference website for hand-outs and links to help you prepare more student centered activities this year.
Our students spread their dreams beneath our feet, we need to tread softly.