Photo by Wesley Fryer
I feel so thankful yet again for Twitter. Today through the power of tweets I have been vicariously attending Author Speak: The Voices of Solution Tree. For three days in Indianapolis 99 education authors, all published with Solution Tree, are gathering to discuss ten current themes in education including assessment, 21st century skills, leadership, literacy, and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). A few of the authors participating are Richard DuFour, Will Richardson and David Sousa, and Daniel Pink was the keynote speaker this morning. I am thrilled that people attending the conference are using the hashtag #authorspeak to tweet links, resources, quotes and questions. This experience is another amazing example of the culture of sharing and openness that thrives on Twitter. The tweets so graciously shared inspired me to think, read, search and learn more about the following topics. I linked each topic to additional resources that were either shared on Twitter or that I discovered throughout the day.
- Building and developing PLCs
- What do students need to learn?
- Mobile learning devices
- Project-based learning
- Teaching the iGeneration
It was a busy day of learning! It still amazes me how a series of 140 characters can push my thinking and encourage me to dig deeper while connecting me to a wide range of educators. I created a short Storify to capture a few of my favourite and thought provoking tweets from #authorspeak. Solution Tree created a more thorough Storify that weaves together the events of the day. All of the presenters’ handouts are available online as is the schedule of sessions for November 2 and 3. If you can, come join this great Twitter experience. The passion of the participants sharing their learning is contagious.
Another amazing benefit of following conference happenings via Twitter is the opportunity to “meet” so many more people. The learning and the connections grow exponentially from one point of entry into the conversation. I immediately felt connected when I started following #authorspeak as there were already some familiar faces tweeting. It was reassuring to know some people at the party as they in turn “introduced” me to more awesome educators. I am constantly in awe of the friendly, supportive and encouraging crowd on Twitter.
Many of the themes from the Author Speak session connect closely with Dave Cormier’s presentation last week in our ECI 831 class. His overarching questions were “Why do we teach?” and “Why do we educate students?” Two gigantic, complex and intricate questions. As he guided us through understanding rhizomatic learning I realized so many of my experiences in my Master’s courses embrace rhizomatic learning. Often my learning feels chaotic, open ended, messy, hard to contain and it most certainly has taken on a life of its own. All that being said, I love it! It is engaging, exploratory, challenging and personalized. Why would we not want our students to have the same experiences? In considering this further the following points from Cormier really resonated with me:
- Question the answers.
- Every time we have a moment of knowing we change. We want to create opportunities for our students to experience these moments.
- Cloak rhizomatic learning in projects.
- Foster opportunities to engage in learning and be a participant at a different level.
- Pull together your own learning from the connections, from the whole group, and from the direct experiences of others.
- Value becoming over memory.
Truly this is complex work and it won’t happen without effort. It begins with conversations and today during #authorspeak there were rich discussions where questions were posed and ideas were challenged. Once the dialogue is flowing though we must follow with action. I so firmly believe it is the doing that brings about change, one classroom at a time. I am sometimes overwhelmed by how to impact the bigger framework in which we teach. How can all of the passionate, brilliant educators rallying for change not be a force great enough? I can become frustrated, discouraged and disheartened wondering how and if the vision can become reality. But then I think about all of the educators who are amazingly committed to education and who are doing unbelievable work in each of their classrooms. All of these classrooms combined equates to a great energy and positivity. The stories of great work that are shared during events like #authorspeak renew my belief that we can do this.
I’m not saying there will be no resistance. New ways and new responsibilities are not easy. That’s learning. ~Dave Cormier
I’d love to know: Do you incorporate project-based learning in your classroom? What are the challenges? What are the benefits that you have experienced first-hand? How did you start the journey? Do you have tips for other educators? Or resources you use to help you? What other ways does the learning get messy and chaotic in your classroom? If you have a story of global citizenship development happening in your classroom or school I am collecting them in this Google Doc. Even a sentence or two capturing the experience would be greatly valued!