Let’s Re-Visit-“Working, Breathing, Reproducible, Intriguing Models”

I haven’t posted in awhile – been one of those convergences of report cards, parent conferences, inservices, family activities, etc. I have several posts in the works – might even get to one today or tomorrow. In the meantime I feel the urge to bring back one of my most popular posts in reply to Will Richardson’s recent post. Here it is:

Students blogging, creating content, manipulating text, graphics and video, designing and producing projects and all that technology and Web 2.0 has to offer – Wow! It’s so obvious what dynamic, mind stretching and engaging platforms technology, problem-based and project-based learning are!!! Or is it so obvious?

Who gets the most excited and visionary about this stuff? – Probably anyone that might actually be reading this post. I’ll bet few if anyone that isn’t already doing “Messy” learning is checking out this or any other blogs that teach, preach or discuss it. We hear about “The New Story,” or “The Read/Write Web in the Classroom,” but who else but the choir reads, hears or cares about any of it?

The gurus trip around the country and the world physically and virtually to spread the word, but who goes to these conferences or subscribes to these podcasts (or even knows what a podcast is?)? The masses of teachers and administrators looking to be enlightened? No! (well maybe a few, but VERY few) The early adopters that see and saw the implications straightforward are the few and the brave. So the questions have been asked and numerous and various answers have been proposed about how to change how school is done and how using these “New Tools” fit into that scheme and how do we get the message out?

Do the gurus continue to guru? (How do you guru? – don’t ask,  just try to follow along) Yes, that is certainly part of the equation. Do we continue to blog about it? Absolutely! The conversation is the point! What is missing are the models – the working, breathing, reproducible, intriguing models. We need ongoing models of all the power of what this looks like or we get nowhere.

Yeah I know there are examples out there – but my staff and my administrators and my congressman and senator and school board probably aren’t jetting out to Maine to observe Bob Sprankle’s class or any other of the teachers and students doing this kind of school.

YOU IDIOT!!! – You’re thinking or maybe yelling at your monitor – you and your staff can go to Bob Sprankle’s class or any of a list of teachers using blogs and video and web 2.0 applications via the web!!!! Yes, yes I know – cool down – I know that. I can pull up one of Bob’s productions – for example his class made a recent vodcast about how they produce their podcasts – way cool – I GET IT!

BUT – (notice I made it a big but) I GET IT! I could run around my school and district showing teachers and administrators Bob’s kids’ vodcast and I might even get a few people excited – “ but most WON’T GET IT! You can’t just show most people – you have to show them and explain it to them and then answer their questions and then show it to them again and then explain it to them again and then show them how this relates to things they already do – takes the place of this and makes it even better and does this and this and this! I’m telling you they will think the vodcast was kinda cool- would be an interesting thing for their kids to do once if they had the equipment and the time and someone to show them how to do it. But they won’t get it until they experience you doing it and getting them to do it- several times – and talk about it and have them notice their students’ reaction and learning and how they talk about it and how excited their parents get about it. Wes Fryer talks about Face 2 Face – that’s it! that’s what I’m talking about.

So where is everyone that does this? Are there whole schools that do this? Districts? Where’s the list? – we should all post it and send it around – where will people see this that is as easy and as accessible as possible? Is there DATA that goes with any of these teachers or schools or districts that do this? (yeah, I don’t need the DATA but some will require the DATA). Maybe there’s downloadable video of some of this – I know where some is – where’s a lot more? Better yet, are their teachers – “Old School” teachers that have come to this that can speak about what their experience has taught them? I think that would be a powerful “New Story.”

We need working, breathing, reproducible, intriguing models available in many places for many to see and experience to leverage the gurus and the online examples. Should we build the clearinghouse – any volunteers?
Learning is messy!

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7 thoughts on “Let’s Re-Visit-“Working, Breathing, Reproducible, Intriguing Models”

  1. I’m in a school district (Hueneme) that totally “disallowed” all forms of blogging tho they have the infrastructure to do everything you say. I’m :

    a female, its completely male dominated
    yada yada……..

    When I go around saying “this is it” this is “the future” “look at what I made” (as I’m 47, not exactly a new kid and if I can anyone can) i just try to learn….but it takes visionary leadership and it takes a school board that understands what to ask for and a set of district leaders that know how to develop competent effective programs in new and exciting mediums. The funny thing is with kids it takes two seconds and they are with you….something I hope translates into a demand for this kind of competency in the teacher and in the schools in the next few years. I know I’m trying very hard to learn on my own time and figure this out….then figure out how to apply it into my first grade…however I can do it. Bravo to you for raising such good questions……I know for me I’d be looking at all of this as an elementary teacher to this for the expansion in writing, motivation, ability to create community, to get as they say “global” and if intimidated by the process then a sure hook is getting the person to give it a go themself….I hear our teachers complain about “time”, it takes tme. For me its so pleasurable…so maybe the issue is less Standard based stuff ..more time dedicated to innovation. Surely an uphill battle when it should be easy. The entire struggle seems so counterintuitive…sarah

  2. After reading your post, I thought I’d jump in and share. I am very fortunate to have support from the top down. I returned to public education after 25 years as a computer consultant. I am now the library media specialist at the Grandview Elementary School in Monsey, NY. You can visit http://www.grandviewlibrary.org and http://www.digitalpencil.org to learn about our work — in progress always. A wrote a short memoir and timeline documenting my first days on the job here — http://www.digitalpencil.org/About.aspx

    The web-based project organizers and web-based digital journal which I programmed — no software required on client machines — along with a Smart Board and 24 notebook computers has made all the difference. It takes a lot of grant writing, more hours of off-the-clock work than anyone could imagine, and a lot of patience — but it works, it’s fun, the kids respond. It’s all worth it.

  3. I think you’re exactly right – teachers need to see the successes in action. They need to have the personal touch so they are not afraid to try something new and they need to see lots of other people (in the same age/experience group) doing the same thing. I don’t like the feeling that this is a local battle for each school to take on, but it some ways it has to be. Seeing something work online isn’t the same as seeing it in your own school, talking to the students and teachers that conducted the project. Having said that, I would also love to see the data, just so I can show my teachers and administrators what is going on in the rest of the world, so they know that I’m not the only one that thinks these things are important.