Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Conversations for a New Year

Many forward thinking educators find themselves teaching with their classroom doors closed in order to avoid conflict with their colleagues who are teaching in more 'traditional' ways. If you are a teacher who would rather have the students speak, than have your own voice be heard; If you are a teacher who would rather have students work on engaging cross-curricular projects, than turn pages in textbooks; If you are a teacher who would rather provide access to a real world audience for student work, than grade and return student assignments, then there is a high probability that you are in need of opportunities to connect with like-minded educators!

The reality in the many schools I've taught in, and visited, is that teachers who strive to engage their students in engaging projects, often run the risk of being seen by their teaching collagues as 'rebels' or worse yet, teachers who lack 'discipline'. The fact that a teacher might have students up and out of their desks, speaking with other students, and demonstrating learning with tools other than pencils, pens and books, must be threatening to those who have only experienced working with compliant students sitting in rows and following the lead of the 'sage on the stage'.

Rather than engaging in meaningful collaborative learning with neighbouring teachers (whose doors might also be closed... if only to keep their students from seeing your active learners), educators on their way to becoming 'Teacher 2.0', might be better to open discussions with peers whose classrooms are undertaking similar transformations: moving from the teacher-directed model to more constructivist, project-based learning approaches. Luckily, many of these teachers have opened virtual doorways to their classrooms via the World Wide Web.

While you may or may not have your students use read/write tools like Wikis, Blogs, and Podcasts, you might well find inspiration from seeing the work of others who are leveraging these tools to engage in global conversations. I know that many of these classrooms/teachers are looking to network with other classrooms from around the world, so by all means, consider participating in the discussion!

Conversation Starters:

View some Teacher/Classroom Blogs:
EduBlog Award Nominees:
Educational Podcast Network:

A few Folks you might want to meet/read:

Wesley Fryer:
Will Richardson:
Bob Sprankle: