Friday, November 20, 2009

It's About Time

...there never seems to be enough of it, especially if you are a teacher. I often say, jokingly, that I want to work at Google. (My credentials wouldn't even get me in the door.) But one aspect of that company that intrigues me is what they call "Innovation Time Off"--or 20% Time. All Google engineers are encouraged to spend one day a week on a project that interests them. (G-Mail and Google News are a product of this time) Think of what a teacher could do with 20% time! In a recent interview with David Warlick, when questioned "What's stopping teachers, what are the challenges they are facing?" he replied

I think one of the biggest challenges facing them is the lack of time. Surgeons don't spend all of their time in surgery; lawyers don't spend all of their time in front of the jury. There's a lot more to teaching than just teaching. It's about collaboration, research, and materials development. There's a lot to teaching today that wasn't part of the job a few years ago. We have to understand that and somehow restructure the day. What we need is for teachers to work eight hours a day: four hours in instructional supervision, four hours in professional planning. Just think what a classroom could be like if every teacher had four hours of planning every day! Just think about the learning that could take place. Isn't that the kind of classroom that our children deserve?

Now I know the answer isn't simple or even something we all can agree upon. But I truly believe that what we are intending to do as a district--the responders, document cameras, projectors, 1 to 1 laptops, technology coaches, etc--can make a dent in that precious lack of time. I totally understand that the prospect of this equipment is exhilarating for some yet intimidating for others. Of course, the student use of technology, information, and learning is our ultimate goal, but if we can demonstrate how this "equipment" can ultimately save a teacher time, I think we will have everyone on board.

This time factor brings up a story I was sharing with Layne earlier. One night, during my first year in my leave of absence as a first grade teacher, my ten year-old son said "Wow, this is the first movie you ever watched with us." (It wasn't, of course) When I protested, he replied, "It's the first movie when you didn't have work on your lap." And, he was right.

Oh...if only I had a set of responders...

Digital textbooks and students with laptops

Hey all,
The article below was published in 2003, but has gotten recent attention due to California’s digital textbook initiative:

It took almost two years for success stories to start flowing.
Click the link to read the article and watch the video.
Excerpt from article: The laptops have spurred a host of projects that often cut across disciplines and allow students to go more deeply into subjects, in contrast to "mile-wide, inch-deep" instruction. Such projects, says Ship Bright, executive director of the Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute (MLCI), help answer the question: "How do we make these laptops more than a $2,000 pencil?"

What I take from this article is that it takes a huge, long-term commitment of more than a few people to make a project like this successful.
Another Digital textbook resource:
Comment below with your reactions!!!