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"Learning how to learn is an essential lifelong skill."
Alan November p. 14
The Conversation Begins Today
I've been waiting for this day for weeks: the official kick-off of this summer's #cyberPD event. During the month of July we're discussing Who Owns the Learning?: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age by Alan November. Again this year, I'm hosting this event with Jill Fisch and Laura Komos.
#CyberPD Dates and Host Site:
I wonder how this book would have struck me if it were the first book I was reading about changing the dynamics of classrooms and moving toward student centered - truly student centered - classrooms. I wonder what I would have thought if it were the first book I had read which asked me to rethink school, to rethink learning, to rethink ownership. I wonder what I would have thought if it were the first book I read about digital learning.
Instead Who Owns the Learning is a book that is among many in this journey, along with many tweets, many blogposts, many conversations that have shaped my thinking. In this book, November begins by sharing his vision for, what he calls, a Digital Learning Farm. November states,
"We have inherited an organizational structure in which the teacher owns and manages the learning. This industrial model underestimates the natural curiosity of students to direct their own learning." (p. 5)Instead he suggests ways to create learning environments where students own their learning; where purposeful work is done allowing opportunities to collaborate, create, communicate and think critically (yes, those 21st Century skills, but in real work). These opportunities would allow learners to seek answers to real questions and create more global interactions.
November asks us to rethink the culture of school and shift responsibility to learners changing our roles in the classroom. Our role as educators becomes helping students discover the ways they can contribute, to empower students to be autonomous, to support collaboration, to allow students to design learning.
November is right about the "natural curiosity" of learners. The first graders who enter our classroom each year are always full of natural curiosity and wonder. They enjoy figuring things out and find learning fun. In the last four years, I've worked to make this shift toward being learner centered. In the last four years, digital opportunities for learning, sharing, and collaborating have grown. However, as I read November's book I wondered if I was doing enough. I thought more about what "A Digital Learning Farm" looks like in a primary learning environment.
As I followed tweets from ISTE Julie Ramsay tweeted,
"Are you integrating or innovating with technology?"(See more in her educflections post: "Concerned Teacher....Thoughts from ISTE".) Add to that thought this statement by David Warlick in his recent post Is School 2.0 the Wrong Conversation,
"Perhaps, rather than trying to define the classroom and the school of the 21st century, we should be imaging and describing the student/learner of this post-industrial and change-fueled time." (my emphasis)In his book, November sees students as "active drivers of their educational experiences and designers of their educational goals." (p. 19) November shares examples of students working as tutorial designers, scribes, researchers, communicators and collaborators. How does this look in an elementary classroom? I've been thinking a lot about this since reading the first part of November's book. I've realized how much I rely on Twitter, blogs, and conversations with educators across the globe to revision learning in our classroom.
Here are some educators I rely on for pushing my thinking about innovating with technology and creating environments where students make decisions about their learning:
Kathy Cassidy: Primary Preoccupation
Karen Lirenman: Learning and Sharing with Ms. Lirenman
- Peeking into Division 18: Things Don't Always Go as Planned
- Peeking into Division 18: What We Learned About Plants
Ms. Wideen: Ms. Wideen's Blog
These educators share continuous examples of learner centered environments where students are making a difference now. There are so many others. If you have favorites, please be sure to mention them in the comments.
Other Professional Books
Here are some other professional books I've read that support thinking about this topic:
I hope you'll join the conversation.
Who Owns the Learning?
Co-host Jill Fisch shares her reflections at My Primary Passion: Questions, Questions, Questions. Jill shares her understanding of November's "Digital Learning Farm" and follows with questions she is left considering after reading. (You'll want to check out her examples of ShowMes.)
Co-host Laura Komos joins us from her new blog Ruminate and Invigorate with her reflections of Who Owns the Learning? #cyberPD Part I. Laura discusses autonomy, mastery and purpose in her new work with intermediate students with tablets. Oh the possibilities!
Rose Cappelli reminds us, "Questioning is at the heart of any new learning and nurtures the habits of curiosity and exploration that help all of us remain lifelong learners." In her post, Reflection - Who Owns the Learning Ch. 1-2 at Mentor Texts with Lynne and Rose, she talks about the first steps in making changes.
Linda Baie joins the conversation from Teacher Dance in Discussing Who Owns the Learning #cyberPD. Linda shares her reflections and gives us a glimpse into her school where students do own their learning.
Tony Keefer has been coerced into joining this discussion yet again --- and we're glad he's here. In his reflection at atychiphobia 2.0: , Tony says, “We need a major shift in the culture of schooling and we need it yesterday." Tony asks hard questions about the role of administrators and allowing students to build autonomy, learn, share and collaborate in this digital world.
Mary Lee Hahn joins the conversation at A Year of Reading (which, by the way, has been much more than one year of reading!) with her reflection #cyberPD --- Who Owns the Learning Ch. 1-2. Mary Lee jumps over the obstacles and tackles the big questions for change in her classroom.
At Reading Teachers/Teaching Reading Barb Keister shares her thoughts in #cyberPD: Who Owns the Learning. Barb talks about student motivation, engagement, and providing tools so students can work independently and purposefully.
Deb Frazier shares her thinking about ways to grow the learning environment in her classroom. At Primary Perspective (#cyberPD - Who Owns the Learning by Alan November), she shares some examples of digital learning and some thoughts of roles for students in sharing learning across the community.
Julie Balen shares discusses, "power of purposeful and meaning contribution, not just "look what I made", but "look how I solved this problem," in her #cyberPD 2013 --- Who Owns the Learning reflection at Write at the Edge.
Stop by Teaching in the 21st Century for Maria Caplin's reflection: Who Owns the Learning? Maria discusses the changing roles for students and educators in our digital world.
Michelle Nero joins the conversation at Literacy Learning Zone: #cyberPD part 1 Who Owns the Learning?. Here she talks through the look and sound of a classroom in which students truly own the learning.
At The "Rudd"er, Amy Rudd invites you along her learning journey in "Let's Hit the Trail - Reflection for Cyber PD." Stop by to read a little about Amy's personal digital journey as she reads and reflects using her Kindle. She also shares some new ideas she may consider and colleagues who have helped her as she journeys down the path.
If you're a library media specialist, or like me an educator always trying to rethink what media might look like, you'll want to stop by Jamie Riley's new blog: Rethinking Media Centers for her reflection, #cyberPD - Who Owns the Learning, Ch 1-2.
Barbara Phillips shares her thoughts on independence and digital learning at Wondering Through 2012 and Beyond: #cyberPD Who Owns the Learning. Barbara shares ways she sees students using tutorials for digital learning, collaborating and sharing in her classroom.
Noreen Chen joins the conversation at My Beautiful Planet Earth with her reflection: Revolution. Noreen reminds us we are in the middle of a revolution; a revolution that may have lost sight of what's most important.
Stop by Technology Tips where Anne Sexton shares her thoughts in Who Owns the Learning Book Study. Anne talks about the role technology should play in student learning.