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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

1st Reflection of #mnli12

Yesterday we gathered at the Microsoft NERD Center for the third annual Massachusetts New Literacies Institute (follow along on Twitter with #mnli12).

I enjoy every minute of the conference. The conference follows in a tradition of great educators who plan New Literacies Institutes across the globe

Each day I am going to try and share my basic take aways:

The learning matters not the tool

Our focus on the last two years has not been on technology. We define the issue as a tech issue and not a text issue. For us the goal is to get teachers to ask how are these digital texts and tools enhancing or inhibiting my pedagogical goal.

Digging Deeper

Thus every teacher will attend three different digging deeper sessions. These focus on online collaborative inquiry, online reading comprehension, and online content construction.
These 120 minute sessions focus on in depth pedagogical shifts in our schools. Two facilitators lead a series of hands-on activities.

Digital Text and Tools

They then get to choose eight digital text and tool sessions from a collection of twenty we have put together. Once again the learning takes precedent over the tool.

 Each session is designed to highlight digital text and tools can help students meet the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards of the Common Core.

Design Studio

Participants also work each day in design studio. They have to self-organize into groups and create a learning activity to bring back to the class.

We had some great ideas yesterday. Librarians are focusing on source evaluation; math teachers on tablet integration to improve assessment and instruction; technology teachers working on digital storytelling; science teachers focusing on seismology; and many more.

We do a plus/delta chart each day. The teachers were so grateful to attend a PD workshop where they were actually creating classroom materials and not just warming seats.

The Internet is THE defining text.

Don Leu was our opening keynote presenter. Don reminded us that we are in epochal times and at no point in human history has literacy evolved so quickly.

He further pointed out that when it comes to online research and media skills are students are "digital "doofuses" not "digital natives." Don chared a series of assessments being developed by the New Literacies Research Lab. 

He left us thinking about three changes we must consider 
  1. The internet is the text
  2. The workplace has changed
  3. Literacy will now always change

Teachers Need Support in Building Networks

We, as conference organizers, need to provide better support for teachers in building their professional learning networks. These are teachers, many who are paying out of pocket, to attend a summer conference. They want to effectively integrate digital texts and tools into the classroom.

Yet very few are connected. We did a brief tutorial on yotube, wkis, twitter, and blogs yesterday. Only a handful of teachers had a twitter handle or any online presence. 

As I move on to day two this will be my focus. I want participants to build connections that will help transform their classrooms.

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