Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ITEC 2008 - Day 1

• Slow start to my day, as I was presenting on distance learning at our AEA and arrived late. Just in time to see the last 10 minutes from Hall Davidson (and from what it looked like, I missed the highlight of the day). It was my first time hearing him, and it won't be my last. He hits the need to open up cell phone usage and other mobile devices in the classroom.

• On a related note, Waukee is, amongst others, seeing the use of cell phones. While the opening paragraph makes the ugly claim that their allowing them only because "they are losing the battle", I give kudos to Superintendent Dave Wilkerson, who was very perceptive in saying:

We're creating a false world for them in the school, a world so different from what they're dealing with on the outside.

• Perhaps Marc Prensky's visit is already paying dividends? I vote for Clay Shirky next.

• Speaking of Marc Prensky, I'm putting my vote in for asking for his thought on what 21st century skills means in the context of the Iowa Core Curriculum. I'll be pushing to bring the ICC team and Prensky together.

• Which brings me back to ITEC. The legislative update was sans legislators and a bit anti-climactic. Some good questions raised, though.

1. How specific will the descriptions for core content be? There's a thing to be said for local control, but many teachers will be looking for x, y, and z to cover to hit the 21st century skills.
2. Piggybacking on #1, if the ICC lays out the curriculum, there is that major piece of assessment. How will we assess these skills? Marzano et. al. have mentioned that, in building your teaching, you have to start with the curriculum (the end goal), then determine your assessment (how we know we've achieved the end goal), and then develop the instruction (how to reach the end goal). Are we doing these out of order? Or, do we have some plans in the works for assessment? (I have a diatribe, er... a call for action on this).
3. Are these skills (especially the 21st century skills component) flexible? In other words, are we determining what it means to be employability literate today and for the next 15 years (which we did 15 years ago and has created the mismatch that we have today)? Or are we going to be reviewing this sucker every few years?
4. Where do the businesses, industries, and service sectors weigh in on this? Or are we shooting ourselves in the foot by redesigning our curriculum without consulting them?

I'll admit, I am a big advocate of the ICC and feel this is an excellent opportunity to make that huge jump, but I'm having difficulty answering the questions raised.

• Liked what I saw from Andy Crozier (Grant Wood AEA) et. al. about Apple's Classroom of Tomorrow, Today. Natural fit with the Iowa Core if I do say so myself...

• And, one last thought. There were a lot of sessions marked "gizmos", "gadgets", and "toys". I didn't attend any of them, so there might have been an excellent reason for each (and the presenters for each were top quality). I'm just leery of the message this sends. Gotta get past the wow. It should be about about the learning, not the innovation component.

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