Today we met with David Warlick up in the Temple annex. David is a popular and well-known education blogger and consultant. He travels all over the country visiting schools and speaks at many conferences. To give you a flavor of what we learned I’ll mention some of the highlights of his talk.
- First and foremost, we need to be Master Learners. In an environment of rapid change, this is a critical role to adopt and to model.
- We are preparing our children for a future we cannot know or describe.
- The digital divide is more significant than adults realize. Kids now are networked, connected, collaborative, and comfortable working in online groups (especially in gaming.) That “divides” them from us – adults who haven’t completely caught up with these new ways of working and playing.
- We learn by teaching each other and that is much easier to do in a networked world that includes blogs, wikis, virtual worlds, twitter, tweets, twits, RSS and knitter. (Time for a vocabulary quiz?)
- For me, a very interesting topic–actually it was a question–what does it mean to literate today? Refer to the point above for some clues.
- Forget about integrating technology. That will take care of itself if students and teachers alike become literate with new and rapidly changing information landscapes. Students need to be able to find, organize, evaluate, and synthesize and share information in ethical ways. It is not possible to do that without technology.
The student of today has intrinsic needs. They want to
- work in responsive environments
- share personal experiences and identities
- form and participate in communities
- illustrate accomplishments
- invest themselves
- safely make mistakes
- earn audience and attention
David described a student-inspired assignment that a worn-down, desperate literature teacher gave her students. Each year she taught Othello. Each year she had trouble getting the students to engage in the reading. Finally she put it back on the kids. “Hey I have a problem I need to solve. What can you do to help me engage next years seniors in reading Othello.” The students ended up making a movie trailer. We watched the end product and it was fabulous. The students “owned” the project and were motivated to do a good job. Best of all, they created a gift which they endowed to next year’s crop of Othello readers. In this case, the teacher became a “client” – the students, the “consultants”. This shift of roles resulted in a winning lesson which satisfied the needs of those students.
You can read more about David Warlick and the Landmark Project by following the links I have embedded throughout this post. It was an exciting, inspiring, and overwhelming end to a productive day. I’m sure most of us left with as many questions as answers. Yet, we can take comfort in knowing that pursuing our questions turns us into Master Learners. Now we’ve come full circle.
PS: Our library has most of the books David Warlick mentioned in his talk so email me if you would like to check out one of them.