David Warlick (@dwarlick), author of blog 2 Cents Worth, is visiting our district tomorrow for the second time this year. In October, he talked to us during one of our Engaging the Digital Learner evening sessions. His session was entitled, “Cracking the Code of 21st Century Learners”. Indeed, something we need to do. Together. I remember how great it was having him speak with us that night, so I thought what better way to prepare seeing him again, than to read the blog post about his visit.
Off I went to search my blog for “David Warlick”. Drat! I’ve only mentioned him once, in a post BEFORE he came to our Engaging the Digital Learner session. It’s been so busy this year, I guess the blog post about that night didn’t happen. So, here I am reviewing my notes about the evening.
Better late than never, I say. 🙂
I hope David starts his session tomorrow as he did in October: with something he learned yesterday (today, I, guess). What a great way to begin a session talking with educators (especially in today’s world of ever-changing and expanding technologies). We are, after all, as David points out, learners. We need to be modelling this to students as well. As David pointed out in October, we must be willing to say that we don’t know the answer to the question. We must be able to model our desire to figure out things we do not know and how we would find the answers to our questions.
This is something I seem to do each day I teach French to the two Grade 5 classes to whom I am responsible for teaching French. While I do know the basics (it’s been many years since I took French myself), students often ask me questions about French translations for English words and how to pronounce these words. Thank goodness for my iPad and the wonderful apps that translate English words into French and even pronounce the words for you!
Yes, I am a learner and my students know it. Is this okay? David Warlick would say that this isn’t only okay, this is necessary. He would go even a step further though and say that we should be not only be demonstrating our learning in front of our students, but we should be willing to learn FROM our students. This is especially true in the area of technology.
David Warlick went that evening on to assert that, “21st century learning must be defined by the lack of its limits.” – unlike the 20thCentury learning when there were many limits. We are teaching in information abundance. Never before has there been so much information available to us or our students. During his presentation, David posed interesting, thought-provoking, important questions, such as “What are the methods at work when we have unlimited access to information?” and “What does the school look like to kids when we try to wall the information out?”
Outside of school, our students have no barriers holding them back from knowledge because the information environment ignore barriers. Social media, which most students, regardless of age, are involved with regularly, are powerful network tools. Difficult to contain? Definitely! Worthwhile, most certainly, when guided and used appropriately.
A few other powerful questions David posed during his presentation with us included:
- Can formal learning be more playful?
- Can we allow more distraction?
- Is distraction really something to fear or is it essential for learning?
- Can we be playful enough to give ourselves permission to get it wrong?
David talked about the importance of the need to look at gaming and how gaming is influencing our students and how we can harness that energy and engagement. He showed us a highly educational and motivating program called Scratch which students can use to make their own video games (or play the video games of others – which makes this highly interactive and engaging). Some of the students in the two Health and Career Education classes I teach had a great deal of fun learning about Scratch during our 100 Minutes of Genius projects where they got to explore their choosing a topic to learn about and share with their class at the end of the 100 minutes. They thoroughly enjoyed learning a bit about the program.
David Warlick also talked about blogging and how engaging and interactive, responsive, and thus, motivational, blogging can be for our students. Yes, there definitely are some challenges with respect to blogging, but once students get the hang of it, and start to receive feedback from others, not only did their write more, but, David asserts, they started writing better! Powerful, indeed!
Doodlebuzz.com was mentioned by David as a cool site to check out. If you have not been to this site, please visit. It is pretty interesting. You will never read the news in quite the same way ever again.
David Warlick went on that evening to describe a checklist that today’s teachers should have for their lessons:
The experience is:
- Provokes conversation
- Inspires personal investment
- Guided by safely-made mistakes
- … (there were more, but I guess I wasn’t fast enough when I was typing them that evening and I can’t seem to find them on his site). SorryImagine a classroom, a school, an education system where this was the case! Just imagine the engagement of the students. Imagine the learning that would occur.
We completed the evening, as we have with all our Engaging the Digital Learner sessions by reflecting on our own practise and answering some very interesting, important questions. Some of these questions included:
- What tools do you have now that might make learning more responsive?
- What tools do you have now that might enable learning through conversation exchange of knowledge?
- What tools do you have now that might bring value to student work inspiring personal investment?
- What tools or policies do you have that might make the learning (and teaching) environment more playful and more mistake-friendly?
How would you, your colleagues, your administration, your district senior management answer these questions? These are important questions to ask, ponder, and collaborate to answer.
If you are following along and are interested in David’s presentation with us tomorrow, follow us in the backchannel: #sd36learn and check out the Event Notes for our session with David Warlick.
I am even more excited about David’s session tomorrow! I can’t wait!