A Revolution in Education
I presented again last weekend at the Tatnall School SMART User Conference in Wilmington, Delaware. The conference is organized by SEE and SBRev member Greg Mentzer. He did a marvelous job with the organization and logistics. There were 500 participants and close to 70 presenters.
Everything from participant check in and lunch to presenter needs and volunteer staff runs so smoothly from a presenter's point of view. I know Greg would be the first to say that he couldn't do it without the help of the staff of his school. Many of them present or volunteer to staff the check in and lunch set up and all the other logistics. It is a testament to Greg's leadership as a SEE at the school and what he's done for them and their professional development.
Thanks, Greg. I'm proud to know you and be able to learn from you.
The Keynote address was by SBRev member Bret Gensburg. What a dynamic teacher (He'd kill me if I called him a presenter!)! His title was "Technology in the Classroom: Looking at the Big Three: Why, What, and How". It was very thought provoking. He asked us to reflect on why we do certain things in Notebook. What is the educational rationale for it? "Attention does not equal retention." Flashy pages and tricks that get students' attention doesn't necessarily mean that they will get the content. They may be too focused on the flashy and miss it. Not conventional Notebook lesson creation wisdom and practice. But something to consider.
The formula for successful technology integration is teacher need plus professional development to meet that need equals successful integration. But that isn't the ultimate goal. That is student achievement. To get there you need successful integration plus professional maintenance. That will get you to student achievement. What is professional maintenance?
Bret talked about the three activities that are often called professional development. A conference like the Tatnall School Conference is called professional development by some. He called it Professional Exposure. At conferences like this, a 45 minute to 75 minute session isn't long enough for development. Participants are exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking, and "a mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions." (Oliver Wendell Holmes) Bret didn't say that, but go ahead and use it in the future if you want, Bret. Conferences stretch the mind and can lead to trying something new, but it isn't development.
Professional Development requires large blocks of time. A whole day workshop where you use the tool and make something, like a SMART content creation seminar, could be considered development. You develop skills through use. There may be teaching time and learning theory thrown in, but there should be a good amount of time for practical application of the learning.
After development there needs to be sessions for Professional Maintenance. These are follow up times to answer questions, take something to the next level, discuss issues of implementation, and share successes and lessons learned from unsuccessful attempts. And, as stated above, this Professional Maintenance is what takes successful integration to student achievement.
Another interesting comment he made was that using the board as a whiteboard, and just writing on it, is okay. Some people apologize that they only write on it and don't do fancy lessons with it. Bret said that is what is known as "teaching." We shouldn't just be "presenting" information to students. We should be teaching it. And writing on a blank Notebook page is an acceptable form of teaching at times.
It was a very thought provoking keynote. It may have stepped on a few toes. But I get the feeling that Bret does that from time to time.
Bret, if I misrepresented anything, correct below in the comments.