Thursday, May 03, 2007

NeXt Generation on Parade

For those not based in Sarasota, I should explain before I expound. Two years ago this April, our superintendent unveiled his strategic plan for closing the achievement gap and giving our learners the skills and tools they will need to thrive and shape the world they will inherit. He called the plan NeXt Generation Learning.

The capital "X" is part marketing/part symbolism acknowledging different learners take different paths. Good message, no?

In fact, the entire plan is a worthwhile. It is a vision for the future of education in Sarasota that challenges teachers, administrators and community members to analyze the usual way of doing business (something we don't often consider).

Unfortunately, it is a difficult thing to make a vision reality - especially when there are thousands of stakeholders and especially when dealing with a culture in need of transparent communication structures.

Tuesday morning, I received a call from the head of Instructional Technology for the district asking me to participate in the second of three community forums being held across the district to begin building the lines of communication between parents and community members and the school district.

The first forum had not gone well at all, I have heard from many people and the district was wanting to refine the second based on lessons learned. As one of a small group of pilot teachers trained in what the district is calling NeXt Generation Teaching, I was asked to come and model the use of ActiVotes in my classroom. I was told I had 5 minutes.

The forum was opened with our current school board president announcing the event as evidence of the Board's renewed committment to working with the Superintendent and his staff in making NGL a success.

He was followed by a 10-minute presentation by our Associate Superintendent for NGL in which much of the presentation below was used. Imagine viewing slides 4, 5, and 6 from the back of a crowded cafeteria - imagine.

Next our Instructional Technology chief was up for 10 minutes explaining what a digital learner is and wants.

Then, we watched a video of two colleagues using ActivBoards in their classrooms. This was followed by one of those colleagues demonstrating the ActivBoard for 5 minutes and my 5-minute ActiVote demo.

From there, a supremely brief Q&A and those in attendance forming breakout groups to discuss the evening's critical questions. I've quite a few thoughts floating in my head from the evening, but I think I need to let them settle a bit before blogging. Next post, perhaps.

What are you thoughts on the slideshow? If you were at the forum, what were your thoughts?

More later.

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