Monday, August 07, 2006

Cohort 2 First Session: What Did You Think?

This post is for cohort 2 to comment on, but cohort 1 you are welcome to read through the comments as they appear and then add your thoughts about any of the comments.

Cohort 2, please tell us what you thought of the first session.

29 comments:

  1. The first session of Constructivist Teaching with Technology was what I expected it would be. I had the opportunity to speak with members of cohort 1 and they spilled the beans! Seriously, they explained that there would be a lot of discussion and collaboration within the group. This open format versus a lecture format, in my opinion, is the best way to learn.

    Two years ago I took a class on constructivism. We read a book titled Who Will Save Our Schools? Teachers as Constructivist Leaders, written by Lambert, Kent and Dietz. I enjoyed the class and I know that teaching in a constructivist way is what is best for my students. To be honest it is what is best for me when I am the learner. The challenge when incorporating constructivism is to make sure that we are covering the curriculum mandated by the state. It was good for me to revisit constructivism and talk with other educators about it. I look forward to this year, and having so many teachers in one building who will be thinking and hopefully implementing similar strategies in their classroom.

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  2. The first day was inspiring. I felt a balanced approach was presented, and most importantly, the course appears to be manageable. I connected to the article reading and found comfort in the idea that I already incorporate many elements of constructivism in my teaching. Constructivist theory courses were required in my pedagogical training in college; furthermore, these courses were the ones I enjoyed and learned from the most. To be honest, I believe I was much more engaged in the constructivist approach before moving to Colorado in 2001. This divergence is partly due to the time restraints and curriculum demands unique to our school. For example, my prior teaching on block schedule had afforded greater time to explore and discover. I look forward to revisiting the constructivist approach and the valuable exchange of ideas amongst my colleagues. My goals are to reflect, stretch, and hone classroom instruction this year. My hopes are that this course will provide an avenue to achieve these goals.

    On a separate note, Karl's description of digital natives verses digital immigrants really struck a chord. I found an article on-line that you may find of interest.

    University of Michigan - 2005 Commencement Speech
    http://www.johnseelybrown.com/UM05.pdf

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  3. The first session of the 21st Century Learners Cohort 2 group was a good introduction to the project. We touched on constructivism, technology and the nature of the group itself. The morning was well organized and informative. Everyone who spoke conveyed their passion and commitment. It seemed to me that the introduction modeled the constructivist approach to some extent. I was pleased to note, while reading the article, that several of the constructivist ideas were familiar. I still struggle with how to find that initial focus to garner the students’ interest, and I’m hoping the group will help me with some ideas about that. I wish we could have had more time to discuss The World is Flat, but I guess we’ll follow up on our blogs. I was somewhat disappointed that some aspects of the session weren’t as exciting and different as I’d expected. (Maybe I’ve just been to too many initial committee meetings.) Receiving big notebooks, writing norms on a flip chart, and sitting reading a Xeroxed article all seemed pretty 20th century to me. Still, I am excited about the whole project and I look forward to getting rolling with our blogs and our group discussions.

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  4. The first day was a nice start to a new school year. Every summer, I find my creative soul coming alive again & every summer I have monumental plans to change & revamp what I've been doing in the past. While I often make small changes (or big ones initially), I often find myself pretty fizzled out by mid-year and even more so come May. I think that this group will help keep the teaching passion alive throughout the whole year...The drive to implement change and see it through to the end...And have the support around to help. As those of you who already posted mentioned, there were some constructivist activities going on during our meeting and I liked that we were examples of some of the things we read about. I was a pleasantly surprised that it was not as technology focused as I thought it was going to be. I enjoy learning about technology in the classroom, but the goals seem different than I expected. I am looking forward to being a part of this group.

    Also on a side note, the section "Play" in the Denver Post has lots of neat articles. I liked one in today's titled "Games won't create monsters, just engaged players."

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  5. I am excited to be part of something new and innovative taking place at A.H.S. and in the educational world as a whole. People assume that younger teachers know all this technology, but I do not fit into the category. (Just ask Karl.) I am looking forward to be able to offer this 21st century curriculum to my students this year as I sincerely believe it is something we need to make a concerted effort to dedicate ourselves to in this flattening world. Just hearing the results of this new thinking from teachers who in the first cohort produced was exciting for me. What a great way to get us energized for the school year!

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  6. The first meeting was stimulating, refreshing, and a bit intimidating. I found it stimulating because the presentations and discussions helped wake me up from the summertime daze; it was refreshing because I took away some ideas to use during the first week of my classes; but it also proved somewhat intimidating because of the wealth of knowledge that is out there in web world. Where do I begin?
    I would have liked to hear a bit about how the idea for the grant came about, how it was achieved, and what its end purpose is--obviously, I like the big picture. Thanks to all of you for giving me this opportunity.

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  7. Karen - some of your "big picture" questions are addressed here and here.

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  8. Aside from an early get together, what I enjoyed most about the first session was the article that we read. Most of what was stated affirmed my thinking and approach to education. I also liked the "offer" that this group's purpose and production will be what we make of it. I'm a firm believer in workshop-format teaching (but know it doesn't work in all classes). This would be one area of interest that I would like to explore/present to the group. Technology as a tool and as a real world context is an important aspect of this group, but I really want to get into the applied philosophy of inquiry based learning or constructivist learning or whatever the label currently used.

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  9. Even though I was in shock because of the early hour, the meeting was interesting and informative. I appreciated the efficiency, the enthusiasm, and the professionalism of the team. I am excited to be part of this group.

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  10. The first meeting was good and I'm excited to be a part of such a big change in education. It was so nice to be surrounded by such positive teachers who all have a common goal in education and are willing to change thier teaching methods to keep up the times.

    In addition to being very excited, I found myself feeling overwhelmed about the amount of change that needs to occur. I just need to remind myself that it will take time to make this necessary change. I am definately up for the challenge!

    I'm excited to have the chance to collaborate with teachers in other departements and to learn new ideas and ways to integrate more technology into the classroom.

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  11. My mind was somewhat in another place on Tuesday morning and I apologize for that.

    I am very interested in the constructivist philosophy. As I read the article, I kept thinking "I do this", but I really need to polish my skills. I think that it will become increasingly important to prepare questions that get students to dig deeper.

    I think the cohort is a great blend of talents and I look forward to forming new relationships.

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  12. While reading "Becoming a Constructivist Teacher" during the first session, I was delighted to learn that I aligned with many of the ideas and methodologies presented. Furthermore, the aforementioned article made me think of numerous staff members that exhibited constructivist pedagogy. The power of observation and collaboration is evident. I am thrilled to join this "teachers hall of fame" knowing that the ideas that enhance the students will prevail. Facilitating, mediating, and validating are essential. "Everything speaks..." in the classroom environment. Thank you C1 for challenging me to think.

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  13. Challenge. This word covers so many ideas that were brought up through the readings and discussions on Monday. One, to challenge ourselves everyday to engage the students in a meaningful way. Two, to encourage our students (and ourselves) to be more open-minded to the world, to see outside of our pretty little boxes.
    I really enjoyed sharing and conversing on Monday. I am very excited for this opportunity to bring Physical Education into the 21 century. In health and sports medicine, being a constructivist teacher has been a part of my teaching technique - I could incorporate this more - BUT my CHALLENGE will be to incorporate constructive teaching into my activities classes. It is such a different atmosphere... Ideas?
    See you all soon. Let's make a difference.

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  14. The article we read "Becoming a Constructivist Teacher" had so many great ideas and challenged my thinking. I see the need to get our students more engaged in their learning. I am slightly overwhelmed, but know that with the present culture change is necessary. I also know that the first day I won't be able to change everything, but slow constant change will make a difference. I am looking forward to sharing ideas that others have found sucessful and changing how things are done in my classroom.

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  15. I don't need any convincing at all on the merits of constructivist teaching. I feel really great about what I already know - Michigan State was really progressive for both my BA and MA, and in my language classes we were taught to use constructivist methods. I'm not an expert by any means, but I do very little, if any, really "overt" instruction; for most new material I teach, my students have to deduce meaning from something spoken or written in French. The thing that struck me the most about our first meeting was the number of people that are interested in shifing away from the status quo in teaching. That's so exciting for me, and it reminds me of only a couple of years ago when I started working on my masters. At that time, so many of the progressive ideas I heard about in my classes I thought would never fly in the World Language departments at this school or in this district, but things have changed a lot since then, especially since so many of us in the department are participating in this group, and since some of the more "old school" teachers aren't exerting as much influence as they have in the past. One thing I'm really looking forward to is hearing how teachers in other content areas use constructivist methods and see how we might be able to adapt them to World Language.

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  16. Third time might be a charm. Hopefully, this will work this time!
    The first class was a good surprise transition from summer mode to school. The focus of the class was good. I was expecting this 21C to be ALL about technology. I added a new word, constructivism, to my vocabulary. It is a new word, but some of its concepts, at least according to the article that we read in class, are not necessarily new. Sometime about the summer of 1990 I went to Breckenridge for a week-long seminar on cooperative learning. I incorporated some of those concepts into my classroom routines. I do look forward to rethinking some of those concepts and other new thinking into my classroom.
    Another positive note is the mixing of members of the different departments. We are too departmentalized.

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  17. After taking a year off, I'm excited to try new things in the classroom and I think this 21st Century class will be a nice springboard to change. I thought the 1st meeting was well organized and moved along at a good pace. The thing I'm most looking forward to is collaborating with teachers from different departments and getting a unique perspective from these people. Likewise, as the school year drags on, I hope the positive energy from the first day continues and that I'm willing to put in the time to make the necessary changes in my teaching. Also, I hope the district will make the necessary steps to fund the changes we're all willing to make. Too often, things fall by the apart due to lack of funding and the arrival of "the next big thing". I truly want to buy into these ideas, but am hesitant to make a full commitment when programs quickly go by the wayside (remember Direction 2000? Back to Basics?). That said, I'm very excited to be a part of this positive change at AHS.

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  18. I feel like I'm taking my first baby steps since this is my first blog ever!! I'm really excited to be a part of this learning community. What I'm looking forward to the most is the positive interchange of ideas between so many talented teachers in different departments. We had some good discussion in our first meeting which really made me think about how to incorporate more constructivist techniques in my classes. The first meeting also helped me with the transition from summer to school (something which is always really hard) because it made me want to explore new ideas and techniques. Finally, I really appreciate all the hard work and dedication of Cohort 1. Thanks!

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  19. First and formost it was good to see everyone. What I miss during the summer and look forward to upon returning are the great conversations with dedicated teachers. I am in year 15, and I know it is important for me to not only "keep up with the latest, greatest inovations in education", but to also be energized by others and their ideas. I am thrilled that this class is not all about technology. Not because I refuse to recognize its importance, it has its place, but because I'm not convinced the district, state or nation is actually nor will they be completely committed to all they may preach. Though I rarely agree with anything Jeff says, I do have similar concerns as he. Is this another trend? The technology follow through element aside, the teachers talking to teachers about method, concerns, children is always beneficial. I am looking forward to working with all of you. Thank you to all on the planning team for your commitment, now if we can only get those in power to follow your lead.

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  20. I am excited to learn more about the constructivist approach. It seems that this approach will not only help create problem solvers and questioners, but also help make the information/curriculum presented become part of the students' long term memories because of the connections they will have with the material. I also love the idea of learning new technologies and hopefully leaning some new used of old technologies in new ways. I definitely need to rethink my teaching and what am I already doing that uses the constructivist approach and what lessons I really need to change. Now all I need is an extra 10 hours or so in every day :)

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  21. I am very excited to be a part of this committee. I believe that incorporating technology (more) into my classroom will give students more incentive and will be a wonderful attention graber for our kids. As most of you have already said it was very refreshing to read the contructivist article and find that we are already doing some of the best practice techniques in our classroom. I am excited to bring those strategies, and new ones, to a higher level and try new ones.

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  22. Sharing with colleagues innovative teaching ideas was a refreshing way to begin the 2006 school year. Because I am an "older" teacher, I love hearing from teachers just starting their careers and sharing more youthful perspectives. I liked the small discussion/big discussion format and was glad to share with teachers from different departments. However, I worry that I am one of those people who talks too much, especially when others appear reluctant to participate. I really want to focus on becoming a better listener because I know I have much to learn about integrating more technology into my classroom activities.

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  23. Change has always been intimidating for me. My desire to revamp my approach to teaching paired with the support/backing of the group, I feel will lead to great changes.

    My reaction to the first day was that of support, that we all are there to help and encourage each other in the change that needs to happen in our schools. I just feel fortunate that I'm part of the change at the initial stages, and that this will be an ongoing and successful process.

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  24. Creating a blog was a new thing for me, so that was the big accomplishment of day one.

    I'm really interested in exploring the constructivist teaching approach. This always seems very close to the teaching style we were taught in regard to presenting an art curriculum in my college "cave days." Over the years,the popularity of DBAE (Discipline Based Art Education)overshadowed some of the best constructivist ideas in favor of student artwork that could be more easily assessed, but DBAE perhaps wasn't as creative or personal.I'm glad to see these constructivist concepts honored and explored in our discussions. They really fit well into art teaching methods and our goals.

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  25. After hearing so many positive things about this program from other Social Studies teachers, I was excited to also be a part of this training. I enjoyed the interaction with teachers from different departments especially.

    I am impressed with the "constructivist" concepts, though I have seen some of these techniques used under different descriptions. I am looking forward to incorporating these methods in the classroom, however, I still want to use a variety of teaching approaches. We all have different personalities that we bring to the classroom and approach our subject matter in ways that reflect who we are. At AHS, our students then benefit from dedicated, competent teachers who,in their own unique way, are willing to try new methods to stimulate students at all skill levels.

    When I heard teachers in my department talk about blogging, I did experience some anxiety. Now that I have taken the first step to creat a blog, I am a little more relaxed about this method of communication. I am looking forward to a challenging year.

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  27. I am extremely excited about starting this new group. I have heard so much about the constructivist aproach but never new how to implement it into my class. It will also be nice to be able to talk to others trying the same ideas.
    I believe that we are heading in the right direction with this group and again I am proud to be a part of this.

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  28. Having arrived late I missed out on some of the constructivist discussions though I have had numerous discussions with members of the C-1 group prior to and since the the first class. I must say that I agree with many of the elements that have been introduced and discussed. The emphasis seems to be moving to a focus on student learning and individualization and away from broad stroke department wide or school wide " Policies " which have often times been cold and impersonal. Regarding the discussion about "The World Is Flat" and the powerpoint "Did You Know" that Karl put together I have numerous thoughts on the ideas and concepts put forth. No doubt that China and India have made some progress in their 2500-3000 years of civilization, and they have made some statistically significant steps in the last 20 or so years but with the size of populations each has, there were some stats that I believe were not mentioned : the % of Population living in abject poverty,% Illiterate, % of Population without plumbing/electricity,Environmental degradation, resource depletion, the growing gap between the Haves and the Have not. Just to name a few . See sept 2006 National Geograghic???

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  29. Yes, Jerry, China and India have learned from us very well.

    Those are indeed serious issues for those countries, but - if they do indeed continue the progress they have made in the last 10-15 years, they will solve many of them. They also have the advantage of being late to the party (you should relate). For example, they don't have a legacy wired infrastructure like we do - they're going straight to wireless. The first phone for many (if not most) Chinese and Indians is - or will be - a cell phone. They don't have to make some of the hard decisions more "advanced" countries have to about what legacy stuff to support as they try to move forward - they just start with the new stuff. And if they continue both their political and economic progress, their sheer size will give them an enormous amount of leverage.

    Where's all the oil going (in the news this week, Hugo Chavez in China signing a new oil agreement with the Chinese government)? Where's all the steel going (construction projects delayed and over budget everywhere in the U.S. due both to the steel shortage - because China is using all of it - and Katrina - partially because of the inept response of the U.S.A.? Where are all the jobs going (well, you get the picture)?

    I, too, am sometimes skeptical about their ability to continue on this path without some major bumps. But the policies in this country - coupled with a Britney Spears culture - certainly isn't going to help us - in Friedman's words - "race them to the top."

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