Saturday, August 4, 2012

One if by Land, Two if by Sea, and Twenty Teachers if by Jet Blue Air

Eighteen teachers from the San Marcos Unified and Del Mar Union School Districts in San Diego County, the external evaluator from the Teaching American History Grant Project, and I converged upon Boston from Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27, 2012. It was an amazing experience to be able to witness first-hand the historic landmarks of events that shaped our nation's history.

Highlights from our trip included the following:

  • Freedom Trail, Boston (site of "Boston Massacre" is illustrated above)
  • Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown
  • Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge
  • Harvard,  Cambridge
  • Tall Ships and Custom House, Salem
  • House of Seven Gables, Salem
  • Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
  • Heritage Trail Tour, Lyceum Hall, Salem
  • Adams National Historic Park, Quincy
  • Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth
  • Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock, Plymouth
  • Lexington Green, Paul Revere Capture Site, Old North Bridge, Lexington & Concord
Our group was delighted to see that Boston and the surrounding towns frequently boasted of having the "first" and "oldest" historical landmarks, even to the point of being somewhat of a competition regarding who really had the oldest pub, tavern, meeting hall where the sons of liberty conspired together.

One of my biggest "ahas" was that social media is not new and modern. "Social media" was alive and well during the Boston colonial era:
  • Google Hangout and Discussion Forums-Taverns and Pubs (Green Dragon and Buckman, to name a couple)  
  • Facebook- Mount Auburn Cemetery (Yes, Mount Auburn Cemetery was the place for picnics and social gatherings!)
  • Twitter-Express Riders such as Paul Revere, Militia Leaders (three shots from their window into the air, often "retweeted" by other shots in surrounding areas to gather the minutemen of the militia)
Books that were recommended as a result of these tours:
Please check out additional photos from our trip!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ISTE 2012, Expanding Horizons-Beyond Engaging Our Students, It's Time to Empower Them!

After sitting through a few sessions at ISTE 2012 (International Society for Technology in Education) here in San Diego, I realized that the theme of the conference "Expanding Horizons" certainly resonated with is time for me to truly expand the horizons of my thinking as an educator and life-long learner.

Throughout the conference, I was impressed with the fact that the presenters were focused on the learning process for both students and educators; in fact, the word "ubiquitous" was often was paired with technology, despite the fact that this was a technology conference, the focus was on being the best educators we could possibly be. My goal as an educator should be to empower the students I serve to transform their thinking through a variety of meaningful, authentic, learning experiences and to work with my colleagues to ensure that these opportunities are occurring on an ongoing basis.

One of the "aha" moments for me was when I was listening to Chris Lehmann's presentation on using technology to build a culture of inquiry. Chris is the principal at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. He pointed out that technology should not be merely a means of engaging students in the learning process, but it should be the means for empowering them to take ownership of a life-long process of learning and growing. The projects that the students create at Science Leadership Academy rival the work of many doctoral dissertations. The depth of the students' thinking is phenomenal.

I also had the opportunity to attend a session presented by Lisa Parisi and Brian Crosby regarding the incredible connections their students have been making throughout the world through their classroom blogs.  I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the writing that these students are producing because they are engaged in authentic, meaningful experiences that motivate them to learn more as they delve into the content. What's more, the students' work is being read by thousands upon thousands of viewers, and even being cited on websites such as BrainPop.

In addition, I am so impressed with the work that Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay have spearheaded through their Flat Classroom Project, which provides students with a variety of opportunities to work collaboratively with other students throughout the world in projects that provide solutions to real-world problems and issues. Students use a variety of platforms, including wikis, as a means of collaborating with one another.

My take-away from this conference is to do more blogging myself and to hopefully encourage and inspire my colleagues to provide their students with as many opportunities as possible to take ownership of their learning by being engaged in the inquiry process, then providing the students with the opportunity to publish their findings to a wide variety of authentic audiences, be it blogs, wikis,  classroom websites, or other presentation tools.

Additional Resources:
Science Leadership Academy (Inquiry Based Instruction)
Making Connections with Blogging by Lisa Parisi and Brian Crosby
Flat Classroom Project-Vicki A. Davis, Julie Lindsay
Project Based Learning Meets STEM Presented by Michael Gorman