Monday, September 6, 2010

The Calm Before the Storm

The room is clean, the posters are hung, the chairs and instruments arranged neatly around the room and it's quiet. Too quiet. As if the room itself is holding its breath in preparation for the storm of students who will lend their energy to this space tomorrow morning. For this moment, though, I breathe in and imagine the possible:

Students smiling and being genuinely excited about being in the music room again with their friends... that rare moment before the teacher has made demands of them that make the light in their eyes go out. My hope is to feed on that initial excitiement, and dive into the new philosophical ideas that are informing my teaching this year. Specifically, letting go and allowing the students to own more control over the decision making that happens in their learning.

I'm talking about more than the first day and having students help decide on fair rules for the classroom. I'm talking about inquiry-based learning. Asking them, day one, "What do you want to learn?". And instead of filing the answers they write for me on little index cards, putting them in a drawer, and then forgetting about them, I will follow through day after day with more questions:

Based on their interests, we'll discuss what goals they have for their learning. How will they get there? What tools will they need? How can they best demonstrate that learning? What is a fair way to assess their learning? From the first day to the last day, I will be a partner in their learning, exploring the possibilities that co-constructing curriculum can offer.

Even now, I don't know exactly what to expect. I know what I hope for and what I imagine for my students, but what I really look forward to are the surprises along the way. The ideas they come up with that I never would have thought of. The chance to learn something from a student that I didn't know before. Collaborating and feeding off each other's energy and experiencing learning as the exciting, creative activity it is meant to be!

I'm even welcoming of the challenges, frustrations, and disappointments along the way so that I can continue to examine my teaching and their learning processes. To show, through example, that this is a life long pursuit for all of us, teachers and students alike. To slog through the tough times, draw on each others' strengths, use our resources, and move through it towards personal success. And upon reflection, we can all appreciate the satisfaction of a job well done and celebrate a worthwhile and meaningful experience.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Impossible Beauty

As a blogger who is not even two weeks old, I am grappling with the impossibility of how astounded I am every day with what I discover is being done with technology, creativity, ideas, and what it means to learn and to educate. I can't contain the excitement of knowing that this wave of innovation is exponential and I can't wait to get back to school so I can see what my own students will do in this realm as I shift the environment of my classroom and hand the reins to them in this regard. This morning's mindblowing idea that actually exists: asynchronous conducting. Please watch (and share) this astounding and beautiful work by Eric Whitacre:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Inspired Thinking: "Live Binders"

Probably the most exciting and comprehensive compilation I've yet to see of Web 2.0 Resources, beautiful options for students to create multi-media diplays as evidence of their learning, video tutorials for educators on how to use what's available to them, and inspiring examples of student work. Mike Fisher has just made this available in the summer and encourages us to "go ahead and share it so that teachers that are doing summer curriculum work can use it as a starting point for upgrading their curricular practice." Have a look... it's truly stunning.

5 Minutes with Sir Ken Robinson on Standardized Testing

Bonnie Hunt interviews Sir Ken Robinson on the effects of standardized testing, teaching, and intelligence.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sharing the Wealth

Beyond Powerpoint from innovative blogger and author of a new e-book "A New Way to Lecture", Michael Zimmer.

Some fun new ideas for presentations that move beyond basic powerpoint. Fun for teachers and students alike. Re-shared from a new favorite blog, Educational Paradigms.

Open Mic Nights Starting Thursday

Open Mic Nights Starting Thursday

A great chance to get in on the active conversation about making real changes in education! Everyone check this out and tune in for discussion from 7-8pm, if you can! Topics will be directly related to education/shift/technology ideas. Share your thoughts... we ARE the change we wish to see!

Boredom begets Creativity: Work as Play

Just one example of how students are already making music and art on their own time, using the tools they have, without the help from teachers. This particular example was discovered when I came home from school to find my 6th grade son, Cassidy, at the computer fooling around with the animation program, Flip Boom All-Star. He calls it "Morphing Letters", and was 'inspired' by the doodles he was drawing on his scrap paper while waiting for the time to run out during state testing at school that day. It spurred the idea for making this animation, according to him, which he created and added accompanying music from his ipod (music from a favorite video game soundtrack of his from 'Castle Crashers').

Reflecting on this slice of a "day in the life" of a public school 6th grader, I wonder what kind of worthwhile education he experienced that day. Between state testing and creating an animation with a soundtrack, which did he learn more from? Which has staying power? Which experience led to more learning and curiosity about learning? More problem solving? A chance to create and innovate? Which one could he teach someone else how to do with success?

Food for thought for fellow educators... please share your thoughts in the comment section!