Archive for August, 2017

Let’s Call it a Remix

Posted: August 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

For Opening Institute Day at #SD113A, I was fortunate enough to be able to kick off our afternoon. The goal? Build confidence and purpose as we increase digital learning in our classrooms.

Here is how it went…

First, I played this. Then busted out this. And then that. Then a little bit of this and that and then finally this to get my point across.

So, you have probably summarized lots of versions of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Pretty familiar song, eh?

These are all versions of the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star but each time one small component, one aspect that makes it different unique or unexpected. Perhaps it was the tempo that was changed or the speed or the harmony. Whatever it was.. a small piece of it transformed, in essence changing sound and feel of the song into something different.

The artist took a risk, made some changes and put it out there into the universe to see if we would appreciate it.

And most likely what we heard was not their first their go round. Because that is the whole thing about a change and risk taking is never just happens with one click. The artists adapted, changed one element or another, asked for feedback, tweaked, moved, shifted, removed asked for more feedback and landed on some of the pieces we heard.

And then what they did was give us a remix.

This year we are moving on up (cue Jefferson Theme Song) as our students each get their devices and these can offer up a tremendous chance to design our own remixes.

Some of you may be thinking right now, well Darche, “I liked the original Twinkle, Twinkle and for that matter, I like the ebb and flow of my classroom now as it stands, so take your remix and…” (cue Take This Job and Shove It music) and shove it.

You are right, I have sat in on so many of your lessons and they are amazing and be that as it may…maybe just maybe we can take them to the next level or learn something by trying.

When the devices start to roll into our classrooms, we can not just be complacent with the song that is playing within our teaching and learning. It would be a lot simpler if it worked that way granted I’ll give you that but I never want us to look back and think of the “what if’s” What if I only did this… or what if we only changed one part, could we would have changed the opportunity.

Often times I replay the soundtrack of my early teaching years. I remember so many of my kiddos but the ones who flood back into my mind even now as I am speaking to you are the kiddos that I didn’t reach or couldn’t. The ones who fell through the cracks. The ones whose future may have been shifted if I had some of the resources and technology which now exists. Could I have helped make their lives take a different path?

There was this one boy, Justin. His handwriting was horrible, illegible. He was allowed to get by with very little production if any. It was just the way it was if you had Justin as a student. We would listen to the wonderful stories he told but they were never captured. I think of the stories he really could have written if voice dictation existed?

How many kids did I lose because I didn’t have access to instruments that could have closed their learning gaps or helped me assess quickly enough so I didn’t just keep pushing through the material? It really sucks to think about…I wish I could go back and have a do over…to write my remix with them.

And even if I had a room full of devices, it wouldn’t have been perfect. Devices themselves are not the be all end all and quite frankly the devices will not and should not change everything in your classroom. They could never replace the relationships each of us forge with all of our students but what they can do is amplify our already great work, if we can change our habits and seize that opportunity.

That is really what the devices do, they afford us the opportunity, new found accessibility …to remix. To change. To rearrange. To create of version of the track which your listeners, our learners want to listen to.

But we have to be aware of that opportunity now and to change our mindset, change our habits.

And how do we do that? That sure is a good question. There is not how-to or handbook or step by step that will take us through it all. One thing I can tell ya for sure, it is not going to be which tools we use and attending to lots of how-to trainings. It is going to be about leveraging those devices to adapt our teaching and learning so that we make a powerful impact for our kiddos.

It is going to be about leveraging those devices to adapt our teaching and learning so that we make a more powerful impact for our kiddos.

When was working at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), I was supporting a teacher, Colleen, who just was awarded one of the first-class sets of iPads in all of CPS. This was about 7 years ago. Unbeknownst to me, they were just sitting there in her classroom. And there they sat in her room, she had no idea what to do, she just kept doing the same things she had always done because there was comfort in that. And heck I didn’t blame her. But I had the task to get those out of the cart and into the kid’s hands. So I asked her…”What are you teaching in science?” And she told me…”All about rocks”.

And then I told her, “that’s it…just take it out and show them a picture of a rock.” And that is just what she did. She showed them a rock on the iPad.

This was her remix.

Sure at the core it is the same purpose, the same guts, but it was a fresh approach. And this time she got different results. This time she had students so engaged they didn’t want to move on, they wanted to learn more and more about the rocks and the had the accessibility to do that through the devices. And from that point forward she began to change how she went about preparing for the lessons and tried something … different.

Realize that we are the lead learner of our classrooms, we are the artists who are writing the song, the soundtrack. Every day.

So at the moment we sit down to plan a lesson or an activity or we go to do something which we have always done in the same way … when we are in that moment of comfort – take that small blimp, that one millisecond before your habit would kick in … and think how might this be different if…. I used the ‘puters? Can I put the learning, the discovery in the students hands? Could they wonder a little more on their own? Could they answer their own questions? Discover their own answers even if they are different from the ones we thought we wanted as teachers?

Could we manipulate the…

To create new something different, a remix. If remixes give songs more life. – could remixing in our classroom gives education more life.

If remixes give songs more life. – could remixing in our classroom gives education more life.

There may not be a how-to manual but we can talk about where to start. Change one thing by:

Connecting Differently

One element, one component and let it play out with your student. Let them be the audience of your music. When it is over ask for feedback – from the kiddos, from other teachers, yer coaches, admin, families. Then make another change…more feedback…continue it. Don’t just stop with one change.

This is our time in our District.

We are not self-made.

We are dependent on each other.

We will rely on each other, on every stakeholder.

This liberates us to from expecting so much, expecting to be perfect instead we must simply begin.We head off not to change everything but to change with

We head off not to change everything but to change with purpose, change because of your why, your intention, your remix just might top the charts.