Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Take the First Step

In the book"Change Leadership", by Wagner et. al., the authors compared schools with a flying airplane. The whole plane needs to be rebuilt while it is still flying (paraphrase). For those of us who see the need for the plane to be redesigned, this can seem to be overwhelming. So much needs to be done and as soon as possible. How can we keep up when change happens faster than we can? We definitely can't keep up if we don't see that we need to set goals and do something!

I attended the IT Summit with a friend who had never attended one before. He, like me, left feeling quite swamped with what educators need to do. Another friend stated that technology was just a tool to accomplish the same goals as in the past. Wow, I believe they are missing the point or they are overwhelmed and don't know where to start. All the familiar roadblocks enter one's heads when you ponder the road ahead. (How long till I retire, again?!!) My advice for both of them was to start somewhere! Aim and take a step forward. Decide on what that step is and go for it.

I knew I needed to change my practice and approach (and my timetable!) if I was going to reside in a 21st century classroom. After getting a clear picture of where I wanted to go I decided that I would adjust my timetable to include inquiry learning and to incorporate a blog into our daily routine in the classroom.

Inquiry learning is messy and hard to do. It takes so much time to do it well. The foundation of inquiry learning in our class is that the students' develop their curiousity. We spend a lot of time on asking questions; research questions and essential questions. Essential questions in our class are called critical thinking or just thinking questions.

Our blog is a work in progress and will improve with time and reflection. I am proud of what our students have created and posted on our blog. We practice collaborative writing on our class wiki and many links are available that reflect 21st century ideas. We have some connections to other classroom blogs and know that we need to continue to develop on-line learning networks for the blog to be authentic. I look forward to improvements in the way we do inquiry and how effectively we blog.

At the IT Summit I heard Will Richardson speak. He made the statement that if you can't get the kids into 21st century learning, at least we as teachers need to try to learn as 21st century learners. The biggest idea here is that we develop personal on-line learning networks so that we can direct our own learning. He started a blog 9 years ago and has thousands of followers in his network. After hearing him talk, I thought the next logical step for me would be to produce a professional blog of my own. A small step in trying to contribute and develop my personal learning network.

What was your first step in transforming your classroom? Have you taken it yet? What will you do next?

Some readers will not know how to follow this blog. If you care to follow my blog, simply select the follow link. I need to find out how to get it sent to your e-mail!! I will need some help with this as I am relatively new to blogger.

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