Monday, August 3, 2009

Ideas for Leading Transformation in Schools from Alan November

While at the Building Learning Communities conference, Alan November sat with leaders from New York City schools to discuss ideas for leading transformation in their schools. Below are highlights from the conversation.

Kids Teaching Kids
->Switch the capacity of learning from the teacher to the student.
->Run a contest where kids create learning objects for other kids using screen casting.
-->Resources: PHPmotion, Techsmith, Camtasia
->Students can produce a video that welcomes other children to your school. This can go to all new students. Written, produced, directed by children in the school.
->Ask every teacher to submit the 10 most difficult concepts for students to learn in each content area.
->Challenge students to create ideas to teach the most difficult concepts.

Integrating Technology into the Curriculum
->Too many schools are doing cool things with technology but it is not aligned with the content area. Select 2-3 areas where technology will make a difference.
->Do not use technology just because you can do it. Use the tools (wikis, podcast, Twitter) but make sure they are strategic.
->Globalize the curriculum. We need to see the work of other kids around the world in every subject they teach. Find the award winning work from students around the world in each curriculum area.

Have a Family Plan->Create a Grandmother network.
->Get a grandparent to connect to through skype. Have grandmother read books to class.
->Create subject-area guides
-->Have teachers in each content area/department make cds/dvds for families that show the families how they can support their student in that particular subject.

Extend The Learning Time
->Provide opportunities for students to access their learning environment afterschool day, before school, Saturday,
->Think outside the box
->Open up the library beyond the school day and have an internet café.
->Can a librarian come in at 10 or 11 and work til 6 or 7 everyday, or a couple days a week?
->Can any staff members work Saturdays rather than Monday?

Roles of the leader
->Build Capacity
->Create Study Groups
->Develop great communication skills and express yourself using various channels: Twitter, learning networks, blogs, Skype
->Ensure technology is in alignment with strategic goals you set for your school
->The role of the leader is to build capacity (w/ specific tools, study group,)
-->Family capacity building group
-->Global connection group

Jobs of Student
Below are creative ways that students can make valuable contributions to their learning community. Click here for more details.
->Tutorial Designers: Students can document their learning by recording themselves solving problems based on material discussed in class. You can read how a middle school teacher named Eric Marcos is doing this here.
->Official Scribes: Use a collaborative tool like EtherPad or Google Docs to share responsibility to take perfect notes that can be captured, published, and used by an entire class. See how a teacher named Darren Kurpatwa is doing that with his calculus students here.
->Researchers: Many classrooms have a few computers sitting in the back that gets very little use. What if that computer became the official research station where one student each day was responsible for finding answers to all the questions in class – including the teacher’s? Once sites are found that give details about the questions being asked, you might consider adding it to your own search engine built using Google’s Custom Search Engine creator.
->Collaboration Coordinators: Using Skype (, a collaboration team could be responsible for establishing and maintaining working relationships via the Internet with classrooms around the world. Find out more about how middle school teacher Andrea Trudeau did that here.
->Contributing to Society: Teach students about social justice and empathy using sites like Kiva a site that opens the doors of learning and gives students the opportunity to make a small but meaningful difference in the lives of others.
->Curriculum Reviewers: As the resources above come together, the curriculum review team jumps into action to create material that can be used for continuous review. This team combines visual and audio components into podcasts that can be posted online for individuals to download into their mp3 players. See how Bob Sprankle’s class did this here.

Safety Thoughts->Teachers should be wary of following students on public sites where the teacher subscribes to or receives instant updates of the students activities as we do not want teachers to become responsible for what students do 24/7.
->There are ways to friend a student without subscribing to their updates in some forums
->Family members should be following students, modeling responsible behavior, and should be aware and responsible for what students engage in online and offline.

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