Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reaching Redefinition and Nurturing Passion

The EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Atlanta has been another wild ride through all kinds of amazing ideas for learning with iPads, and many deep thoughts about learning goals and putting students in the center of their learning. It is too soon to know what will filter out as the most significant messages from these packed two days, but there are two big ideas that immediately come to mind.

Reaching Redefinition

We met Dr. Ruben Puentedura at the Leveraging Learning Institute iPad conference in Maine in November, 2011. The conference was small and Ruben could often be found deep in thought, alone at a table. My colleague and I were relentless about sitting with him and grilling him on all the topics we could manage. We left with our heads full of information and audacious goals about elevating our integration of iPads in our classrooms.

We got back to school with the SAMR model and began to look through that lens at our iPad integration. There were many examples of Substitution - students typing papers on iPads, or reading websites for research. There were some classes moving up the list to Augmentation, for instance posting materials on our Haiku pages to upload and use in a PicCollage project and Book Creator projects that include student narration and artwork. We have even reached Modification with some storytelling projects. But truly achieving Redefintion has challenged us in many ways. These types of projects are usually glorious, messy, engaging, and often unending - once you set the students loose absorb them for countless hours. iMovie trailers to teach peers to use Screen Chomp, iStopMotion projects to illustrate the growth of a redwood tree - mash ups of those and other apps in Explain Everything. Wonderful, noisy, chaotic class periods that bleed into recess and never seem to be done to the student's satisfaction. What does Redefintion lead us to? Discovering and nurturing passion!

Nurturing Passion

Angela Maiers' opening keynote, "Passion - the Difference Maker" started us out with enthusiasm for our role as educators, and empathy and appreciation for the genius in all those around us. Indeed, if we are to truly see the world as she does, then we will "honor people, always act as if the person sitting next to you has genius. Your (student or colleague) has a thought or idea that could change your life, remember that you are in the presence of genius." What would a classroom that had that belief at its heart look like? I think it would look like those crazy, messy class sessions we have had when every student was in the midst of expressing what they know, making their learning visible, using transformative tools that redefine class projects. This is passion with a purpose. Students who are allowed to act on their passions are happy, engaged and willing to take on difficult challenges as they joyously struggle to complete a project or reach a goal. When we nurture passion we redefine what it is to create and learn.