See this post at Cathy Mere's Reflect and Refine for what's going on with this summer's #cyberPD. She's also hosting the first conversation of chapters one and two and linking up! Today, join us here! Cathy's friends, Laura Komos (Our Camp Read-a-Lot), Jill Fisch (My Primary Passion) are our two other hosts. Join in, or at least visit to see what others think of this book, Who Owns The Learning, by Alan November.
A thread that appears to be running through the book is the idea that this proposal, the Digital Learning Farm, is based on the idea that in the past, kids who lived on farms had much more authentic work to do with their chores. And they had to learn the why and how of those chores at least some of the time in order to be effective in their daily lives as contributing members of the family. They couldn't decide to skip their 'homework' because lives surely depended upon it, the animals they fed, the plants cared for, etc. He also sites the 'teacher's helper' role of students in one room schoolhouses, and states "The power of purpose and meaningful contribution has been missing from our classrooms and our youth culture for some time."
I teach in an independent school where students choose individual topics to study. That is the curriculum! Students (K-8) collaborate with teachers to design their studies, choosing essential questions to begin research, and teachers work hard to find authentic ways to connect those topics with the outside world. Learning is need based. Alan quoted Tony Wagner, Harvard researcher on page 5: "The essential skill of the 21st Century is knowing how to ask the most interesting questions."
It's a progressive school that values its innovative approaches, but we are also facing the challenges of learning and integrating new approaches that intersect with technology and widening student interactions with more than our local experts. Students are out of the building often, learning about their topics through day trips to places and to interview people as experts.
Both these chapters are so exciting to me as much of what I am reading connects directly with what we do at my school, and Alan is describing "next steps" that will enhance our approaches to technology. It is exciting that others, including Alan, are advocating authentic and purposeful work as motivating factors for students. I believe it works and have seen it be an active force in student learning at my school. The quote by Daniel Pink on page 13 is important: "the most important predictors of high-quality work are autonomy, mastery, and purpose." I am reminded of Peter H. Johnston's book, Opening Minds, that you happened to read together last year. I recently attended a workshop where he emphasized four fundamental human needs: autonomy, belongingness, competence and meaningfulness. They connect directly to Alan's advocacy for autonomy, authenticity, and high-quality work,
A little more:
I liked the idea that all of us are in this together, from superintendents to principals to teachers to students.
I liked the description of a new kind of library and will share this with our librarian. She and I and her assistant work hard to find ideas that will bring more students into the library, but it is not easy. Our classrooms have extensive libraries and technology, so there is less need.
I liked hearing about the math tutorials and think this is one area to be explored. I am now the school's literacy coach, but taught middle-school-aged students (6, 7, 8) for a long time. I often had students peer coach, and they also taught lessons to others, but that isn't the same as a lesson online.
I liked the excitement of Alan November's voice in his words!