Sunday, October 24, 2010

Think Small But Share

I was just reading this terrific article about overcoming technology even without extra money or support. There are some very good suggestions and examples. I particularly like the tip that emphasizes starting with small, fast paced but doable projects. I think so often we throw the kitchen sink at people; mostly because we're so excited and because our time with them is so limited. 

I know I'm guilty. During PD sessions, I often feel like this is my one opportunity to share some great stuff, and if I can throw lots of cards in the air, at least one will land face up. 

In the article, Sylvia Martinez, president of Generation YES (Youth Educators Succeeding), offers a powerful model for PD. 
The company enlists students -- whom Martinez calls "the other 92 percent of the population in schools" -- as part of the solution. "Can we teach students to help teachers use technology more effectively in the classroom? We've got twelve years of data that says we can," she says. 
...The bottom line is, do the best you can with what you've got. And, as Martinez says, when you achieve great results, "you should let people see the evidence that it's working." 

I think that is a crucial part that's missing. There are so many enriching experiences that ARE happening in our classrooms, but are not being shared. As Sylvia says, we need to be sharing the evidence of what we are doing. Teachers can find ways to share what their students are doing with other teachers and (at the very least) their students' parents.

By publishing simple webpages, blogs, wikis or even something low-tech like faculty meetings and family nights. Small increments of "show and tell" can really inspire the most reluctant teachers.

This article is definitely worth reading. What are your thoughts?


TJ Shay said...

Sylvia always has such a great perspective. Yes, I totally agree. I think those of us who are trying to reinvent classrooms can be very driven...and overwhelming. Approaching things from a sharing first strategy and letting the willing come to us is wise advice.

Two weeks ago I heard Vicki Davis at ITEC and she suggested that each person pick three changes they would like to make and do those. I am going to lead PD soon in my district and I will use that same advice.

Thanks for this post! Always good to have a reminder that I learned these things over the years, it's normal to expect the people around me to take some time to adapt/adopt and learn.

sylvia martinez said...

Thanks for the shoutout! Edutopia has some great ideas that all support project-based learning.

Putting students front and center shows what they can do - and if it showcases technology, it shows the parents that their tax dollars are working!

gret said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I totally agree with what you wrote.
Small doable projects is a great way to start. I don't have much access to tech at school, but I have jumped into blogging with my students. It was supposed to be a one post thing, but kids were so motivated and eager to write that asked me to continue. They kept blogging from home and we go to our computer lab whenever we can. I also take my laptop to class every day. Blogging has been a wonderful teaching experience and it has definitely made a difference for my students' learning.
I also agree with the importance of sharing our stories. That's how I got started, by reading what other teachers were doing. We can make other teachers aware of the wonderful things that can be done, even with limited resources and get them on board too.

Sterling Strom said...

Hey! I am Sterling and I currently attend The University of South Alabama. I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class and I was told to comment on your blog. I really enjoyed reading your blog, and I completley agree that teachers should share among each other what is happening in their classrooms. That may be the best evidence of all, that is really taking place with the students. Thanks for sharing. click here to check out my blog!

Lisa Parisi said...

The big take away for me is to share one thing at a time. I often share lots at once and then am told it is too overwhelming or not really doable. By the time I say, "Just choose one" I've already lost them. Maybe one a day over the course of a class would be a better option.

Lee Kolbert said...

It is so important to not overwhelm. In my school we may get 30 minutes with our teachers and at 3:00 people get up and leave, even mid-sentence. How do we get more time with people? Or do we just accept the fact that those who leave are simply not interested?

darcy said...

you all have the right ideas...
** i am now in a small charter that is tech-challenged, as in: no IT with a "custodial" person who thanks to nepotism has a job and works with some hardware. he means well.
but teachers are now complaining because we finally blocked youtube - they have been very spoiled, but it also allowed students in their online classes to be totally UN-engaged in their lessons and a nightmare for those of us "babysitting" them...
I volunteered to admin/staff to grab any video they want and bring in the file- courtesy of my ZAMZAR account - totally worth the 7+/month.
I thought sharing that info, that they could grab files would be a boon - but not, so, much...we will see.
I try to share - there are so many who still are reluctant to learn...
we can only try - and like Lee said, sometimes we throw it all up in the air, hoping some fall, face up!

Jeff Yearout said...

This makes me think of a notion that has been bouncing around my head for several weeks regarding what I do in the classroom with my kiddos. Am I more concerned with "covering" a certain amount of content, or working to ensure depth and quality of understanding? I'm trying to adopt and turn a phrase that usually makes teachers cringe:

"Do more with less"

Lorna Costantini said...

I agree Lee about starting slowly but is hard when we see the power these tools can bring to our students. When we are passionate about something we want every one to know and as fast as possible. Thanks for sharing