Talking Tech @ Tech Talk

Yesterday I attended a conference here in Chicago called Tech Talk.  It was exciting to see so many great things going on in our district and it gave me a sense of hope, at least for the schools who have access to technology.  Hopefully the board will find a way to tap the wonderful talent that I saw yesterday and go with a “grow your own” type program.  (I’m also hoping that they are developing a long term plan for meaningful and supported use of technology not just plunking kids in a lab to do adaptive math test prep.)

Alan November was the keynote speaker.  He seems like a bit of a troublemaker and I really like that about him.  He had some very inspirational things to say and one of the thoughts that caught my attention was the idea of control.  He said that “Teachers are experiencing a loss of control” when it comes to information.  How true.  Given the wide variety of tools and resources on the internet students can have access to knowledge 24 hours a day.

I think that loss of control is a very deep fear for many teachers.  A lot of teachers think that if they aren’t in “control” they aren’t really teaching.  But what we need to do is redefine what control looks like.  Maybe lose the word control all together.  Words like guide, coach, and curator seem much better descriptions of what a teacher is today.

I attended another session with Mr. November where he talked about the flipped classroom.  This always puzzles me because in Elementary we never have lectured to kids and then assigned the practice for homework.  I think I have an idea of what it might look like for us but I’m still sorting through that process.

One thing he did talk about was game theory and the idea of near immediate feedback on progress.  He also said that games give kids an opportunity to get an A at the last minute whereas in school we keep track of all of your failures and never let you forget them.  Now there’s some food for thought.

A few other highlights:

Check out the WONDERFUL prezi presentation by four teachers from the National Teachers Academy including fellow blogger Jennie Magiera.  They have some great examples that show how they are breaking down and building up education using iPads in the classroom.  I especially enjoyed music teacher Holly Mullenix-Stack’s section because I don’t teach music and everything she talked about was new and different to me.  They also got me thinking about how I can leverage the power of teacher created videos to make my thinking processes clear for students.

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