Weaving Our Web

“We shape our tools and then they shape us.” Marshall McLuhan

We had a great conversation at our Parent Council meeting this week on the  changes that are underway here at Park Avenue P.S. Some may know that our staff and students have been quietly re-tooling; changing the way that we use technology for teaching and learning. Specifically, our staff and students are exploring the ways we can use mobile devices as tools for learning.

If you look carefully, you will see evidence of this all over the school. Several of our classes have been engaging in a pilot project on the ways we can incorporate students’ personal technology (iPods, tablets) into daily learning, how to appropriately use web-based learning systems like Edmodo and many of our primary classes have launched class blog sites.

As a first year principal, I take a great deal of pride in how willing our staff have been to embrace these innovations. Not only because I believe they are important innovations that our public schools need to adopt but also because these are observable and tangible evidences that provide me with feedback on the impact of my leadership. It’s important to note that everyone, even school principals, want to make a difference. It’s also important to note that all of these changes trace directly back to our school improvement plan goal to continue to work to ensure our school is inclusive, our learning is inquiry-based and our practices are innovative.

The video above gives a poetic view of how we can help our children learn that the tools we have now do allow for meaningful connections- to, as my friend Royan Lee often says, ‘expand and not escape.’ Of course our teachers play a critical role, as parents do, in guiding and structuring this learning. This is why we have provided many of our teachers with iPads so they may inquire into the ways that these tools can support their professional learning and their classroom practice.

At our Council meeting, some of our parents did admit that all this ‘hopey-changey stuff’ was putting them on a pretty steep learning curve and that is perfectly understandable. For many adults, when we enter a school, we expect it to be the school that we attended rather than the school that it could (and should be) in the now. Too often, I’m afraid this remains the case.

My colleague  Jackie Gerstein has written a great blog post that breaks down how the evolution of the internet has and can impact the pedagogy and practice in our classrooms.  Another great read is the book Too Big to Know by American author David Weinberger.

Schools only work when there is trust and trust exists when all stakeholders feel they have a voice and a choice. As parents and community members I hope you feel welcome to ask questions about the changes we are undertaking; why, when and how. I also hope you will feel that you can also respond; through conversations, notes and to these blog posts- it’s pretty simple all you have to do is click in the Leave a Reply box and share your voice- and you are all welcome to do so.

  1. Norman Maddeaux
    April 3, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    It is really nice to see a school administrator embrace technology to the level you have and encourage your staff and students to do the same. In the global world market today, it is important that students familiarize themselves with the technologies available which will assist in their learning and position them for the workforce in the future. The younger they start, the better.

    In addition, it has almost become mandatory for all teachers, just not the IT teacher, to keep abreast of current technologies , otherwise they position themselves to become obsolete. As the younger student becomes more accustomed to using technology they will expect to be able to use it in the classroom to assist in their learning and the teacher must keep up.

  2. April 3, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Hi Norman

    I appreciate the response and agree with your point on younger students. All one has to do is watch a toddler use a tablet and its clear that our pedagogy will need to evolve and adapt. I’m most proud of how open and willing our staff have been to learn about these tools and ‘keep abreast.’



  3. April 5, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Good morning Brian,

    I really love what you have written and it is really nice to see someone with the “Digital Natives” in mind.

    I am a Technology Teacher who has been leading the way for the past 7 years with Young children in education. I am also a Children’s Touch Typing Specialist and I was the first Teacher to introduce Touch Typing into the Elementary Curriculum.

    I would love to meet with you and share idea’s. My contact details are on my website http://www.touchtyping4life.com.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

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