Tuesday, July 3, 2007

All hands on desk!

Yesterday was workshop day. I ran two sessions, one on blogs and the other on Web2.0 goodies.

These three hour sessions ran back-to-back, with a brief 30-minute hyperlink in-between.

Play by play summary:
7:30 - arrive and check that laptop computers 'play nice' with network. Playing well, indeed!

7:45 - decorate room in July 4th theme. All PD sessions at NECC recommended having a theme ('despair' was summarily rejected)

7:55 - first teacher arrives. Laptop unable to connect with SDST1.
7:57 - second teacher arrives. Laptop unable to connect with SDST1.

8:00 - move to library and log-in the old-fashioned way: tethered to our ports.

fast-forward to 1:00PM, five hours in to the workshop, in order to advance the purpose of this post:

1:00 - As the air suddenly feels saturated with eau-de-overwhelmed I stop and ask a question:

1:01 - "How many of you feel overwhelmed?"

1:01:08 - two-thirds raise their hands.

1:01:21 - "Overwhelmed or otherwise, how many of you are thinking about ways to integrate these tools into your curriculum to enhance the skills of your students?"

1:01:37 - all hands raised.

1:01:50 - "Okay, what ideas do you have?"

1:01:53 - icy silence (is there any other kind?).

And now I could make a myriad of points, but in the interest of keeping things neatly truncated, I share the following:

My immediate reaction: "Well, I suppose I understand the trepidation and now I suppose a true classroom of the future will be 87 minutes of silence."

My immediate internal dialogue: These are the obstacles: Verbal engagement. Participation in front of their peers.

Yes, a comment on my blog from a citizen of Malaysia is enticing, validating, and...well, cool, but shouldn't I be able to have even a moment of meaningful discourse with my classmates?

My latent fear: Uh-oh! What if a teacher sitting here re-evaluates her curriculum and wants to provide her students with more authentic levels of inquiry and problem-solving? What if she sets up a blog and they all post, post like bees to honey.

What if...

The taciturn student suddenly shines with a blogging voice so sonorous, it strikes blog comments of praise from her peers?

The disenfranchised student constructs an entry that actually suggests interest and, shocking to one and all, conveys a rudimentary understanding for the conventions of the writing process?

The truant is present in this on-line community; posting comments nightly, clearly paying attention and making more than one visit to the blog?

When they arrive to class, the teacher projects the blog, asks for some reflection, perhaps some extension, and they stare in icy silence?

Redesign a school. Develop a new curriculum. Go 1 to 1. Wireless. Web2.0. Blog. Wiki. Podcast. Twit, Ning, and Zoho all night long.

But is anybody really talking?

1 comment:

Kristin Hokanson said...

Ahh the dreaded silence of Professional Development...
and it is so true, scary, but true.
I wonder though if the teachers are silent because it is a NEW tool for them vs the kids...they may open up MORE because use of technology is a FAMILIAR tool--I have found the kids are MORE willing to offer up ideas once they have had a chance to craft, practice, write and revise the night prior in the form of a blog or a wiki...when I get the icy silence...whip out subetha edit and have them chat it out for 10 minutes to get them warmed up. Yes I agree they DO need to communicate, but look at how many of us communicate professionally--on line in skype, twittering, posting responses to a blog, 1 hour structured elluminate sessions...yes they need to learn to communicate...but what WILL communication look like to them in 5 years?