Sunday, February 4, 2007

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Please submit any questions you'd like to see addressed in our presentation as comments to this post. Simply click on "0 (or whatever number) comments" at the bottom of this post, then follow the directions. You'll need a Google Account - which is free - to submit a comment.

About This Session

Constructivist Teaching with Technology: Learning with Laptops

We received two grants that allowed us to implement a three-year staff development program focusing on constructivism and the use of technology to create a more student-centered approach to teaching and learning. Led by the Curriculum Innovation Team, two cohorts of teachers are re-examining our teaching practices in light of both educational research and the rapidly changing world we live in. We call these cohorts 21st Century Learners, to emphasize to staff, students and parents that all of us need to be life-long learners and that educational practices need to change in order to prepare our students to be successful in the 21st century.
For the past two years each cohort has met approximately once every three weeks to explore learning theory (constructivism), teaching practices (pedagogy), and the use of technology to facilitate learning (21st century learning skills). In addition to the staff development, the grants have allowed us to place a computer and mounted LCD projector in every classroom at our school and implement three classrooms with wireless laptop computers.

This presentation will share our staff development process and our results so far, including specific classroom examples from the teachers who implemented them.

Objectives: (What will participants know and be able to do as a result of their participation, what specific skills will be introduced and practices)

  • Participants will receive an overview of the staff development process focusing on constructivism, technology as a tool to enhance student learning, and collaboration within and among different departments.
  • Participants will hear of the impact on our classroom practices as a result of our study of constructivism and 21st century learning skills.
  • Participants will see the purpose behind creating a Professional Learning Environment in their classroom. The arrangement of the classroom is key to building effective collaboration among students as well as between students and teacher, and raises the level of expectation among students for producing quality learning.
  • Participants will see student reflection on their work in a laptop classroom and the changes that have occurred for them both as a learner (consumer) and as a teacher (producer).
  • Participants will learn the skills necessary to transform Social Studies, English, and Science classrooms into 21st Century classrooms. We will share classroom examples including the use of :

    o blogging for reflective, collaborative, critical thinking, and professional purposes creating a school-wide learning community

    o online primary sources and teaching students how to evaluate and become informed critical thinkers

    o wikis as a review tool, to foster collaborative research among students, to create study guides by and for the students, and to create class-specific textbooks

    o online texts to allow students to interact with the text, document their learning, enhance classroom learning, and collaborate with peers

    o online peer editing, where students examine each others work and reflect upon their own learning

    o podcasting, where students create content for themselves, the community and the world

    o digital storytelling as a reflection on an entire semester’s learning based on an inquiry approach.
  • Participants will see the application of software and online resources including Blogger, PBWiki/WikiSpaces, Microsoft Photo Story 3, Audacity, Odeo, Writely, and Microsoft Word

Outline of Presentation:
Pre-Conference: You can post questions for presenters on this blog.
Introduction of Presenters and Overview of Staff Development - 10 min
Professional Learning Environment -5 min
Language Arts Classroom Examples - 10 min
Science Classroom Examples -10 min
Social Studies Classroom Examples - 10 min
Questions and Discussion – 15 min
Post-Conference: Discussion can continue on our wiki or blog.

Supporting Research:

The following books have heavily influenced our work –

1. In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms by Brooks & Brooks

2. The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards” by Alfie Kohn

3. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School by National Research Council

4. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas Friedman

5. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

6. A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel Pink

7. The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons from America from a Small School in Harlem by Deborah Meier

8. College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready by David Conley

9. Horace’s Compromise/Horace’s School/Horace’s Hope by Theodore Sizer

10. Keeping School: Letters to Families from Principals of Two Small Schools by Meier and Sizer

11. The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

12. Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?: Content Comprehension, Grades 6-12 by Cris Tovani

13. I Read It, But I Don't Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers by Cris Tovani

14. Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares about Education by Peter Senge

15. How Students Learn: History, Mathematics and Science in the Classroom by National Research Council

16. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson

Presenter Background:
Karl Fisch has been a teacher for 18 years. He has taught middle and high school math and is currently Director of Technology at Arapahoe High School. He is the project leader of Arapahoe’s Curriculum Innovation Team.

Brian Hatak has been a teacher for 8 years and currently teaches chemistry and astronomy, He is a member of the Curriculum Innovation Team and a participant in the first cohort 21st Century Learners.

Brad Meyer has been a teacher for 11 years, currently teaches U.S. History , Law and Government, and is Social Studies Department Chairman. He is a member of the Curriculum Innovation Team and a participant in the first cohort of 21st Century Learners

Anne Smith has been a teacher for 8 years and currently teaches Freshmen English and English World Literature. She is a member of the Curriculum Innovation Team and a participant in the first cohort of 21st Century Learners

Barbara Stahlhut has been a teacher for 31 years. She has been at Arapahoe High School for the past 20 years where she currently teaches Algebra and Calculus. She also teaches Geometry at Eagle Academy, an alternative night high school in Douglas County School District. She is a member of the Curriculum Innovation Team, a participant in the first cohort of 21st Century Learners, and chairperson of the Single Gender Professional Learning Community.

Participants should have a willingness to learn and a belief that students and teachers can change the world.

Referenced Web Links: