Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflections on Education

I remember when I was a kid I loved the beginning of the year because the new "Year in Review" and "Science Year" encyclopedias would be coming to our house.I loved the pictures about the space program and the Year in Review always offered cool stories and a chance to reflect- like those movies during the Oscars that tell us all the great people we lost in the past year. Here it is the end of 2011 and I feel like I am at the beginning of something really big - and I know it is not a new encyclopedia.

Luckily, I no longer have to wait to see the year in review all that information is ALWAYS readily available to me... and to my students. They never have to wait for too long to remember the name of the kid in the hot air balloon hoax because they research on the fly every day. The implications for education are vast, aren't they? I ponder this and other questions like it all the time. How can I make this work in school? Is there an inspiration here that can excite my students.

In fact, if you are like me you find it hard to keep up with all the latest and greatest technology in education. In fact, I use twitter, Google+, Pulse, Currents, Facebook, I attend conferences and view webinars, and just good old browsing the web. I find it both invigorating and confusing.

When conversations start about "21st education" I find I have much to say - almost too much - but that is the nature of the times we live in, isn't it? Our students are connected 24/7 to their friends to the news to the world. Flat Stanley travels around the planet still and they are not that impressed. We bring students from the other side of the planet into our classrooms and it is just what we do. Students at my school regularly listen to the birds of Israel outside their teacher's classroom window a feat made possible through video conferencing. So what can we do to excited them further? I'm not sure we have to do much, instead I think we need to start thinking more creatively - put the seeds of thought out there and innovative education will develop.

Our teachers planned a flash mob during lower school lunch last week. Several 8th grade students pointed their cameras because they wanted to capture the event and post it on YouTube! Our Judaic Studies teachers planned a QR Quest for our Middle School students which created quite a clamor about ancient history. Our fourth grade students given a variety of choices decided to create movies about the major systems in the human body because making movies is fun! In a recent cross-curricular event students spoke with Elizabeth Winthrop during a Skype conference, created glogs about child labor, and discussed the implications for today. Math students compete in games while in school and at home at MangaHigh. Learning is not a classroom event any longer, school is not limited to the confines of time or space any longer. I am excited to be influencing students all day long - even at home - and getting tweeted about it, too! What about you?