Boy in the Bubble revisited

Have the Paul Simon Anthology playing in the car and song 1 of disc 2 is the classic Graceland song, “Boy in the Bubble.”  In it, he juxtaposes the hard times humanity was facing alongside the wonder and amazement of technological advances.  In the chorus, he sings,

These are the days of miracle of wonder
This is the long distance call.
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo.
The way we look to a song, oh yeah.

The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in the corner of the sky.
These are the days of miracle and wonder,
Don’t cry, baby, don’t cry.

Great song.

Hearing that song a lot lately – I don’t change the CD’s in the car that often – I am struck by how much you could add now.  The Internet, video skype, everybody writing, medical advances, the way the camera follows us from outer space, the way we pause live TV, and so much more.

We continue to live in “the days of miracle and wonder” (while still immersed in world conflict, tragedy and hate), but at what time will our education system change to embrace this?

How much longer can schools/administrators/teachers/parents resist acknowledging these amazing changes in technology and make the way our children learn reflect and tap into this?

I love it when music makes me think.



We continue to live in days for miracle and wonder.  What new items should we include in a new verse for this song?

What are the new “miracles and wonders”?

Moving forward – from rhetoric to reality

Also posted as a guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant 

So where do Justin and I go from here?


Over the past week we have taken some time to reflect on our process of creating a meaningful and usable framework for embedding “21st century literacy” into our school curriculum. Part 1, 2, 3, 4 sought to guide you the reader through our thinking and seek out feedback and friendly criticism. Blogs are such a great venue for conversations like this.

Our final post asks for advice on how to make it a reality.

Our framework was designed with the International School of Bangkok and its teachers in mind. While we feel it could apply to any educational setting we are not bound by any external curricular limitations other than that which the International Baccalaureate sets out in grades 11 and 12. Our school is heavily invested in the UBD (Understanding by Design) approach to unit/curriculum planning and as a result we have chosen to use “essential questions” to guide our framework.

To quote from an earlier post:

Looking at Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design approach to curriculum and unit design we liked how big “essential questions” and “enduring understandings” had helped us plan and design units when we were teaching math and social studies. What if this same “best practice” approach could be applied to the way technology was used and talked about in the classroom? If this was good curricular design practice, why should technology and thinking curriculum be any different? What if that same approach was used in the way we looked at connecting technology and learning across the curriculum? What if there were only a few manageable questions that even the most tech-resistant teacher could see value in?

Best practices regarding meaningful technology integration vary world wide. As technology is a real and relevant teaching and learning tool, we felt that our approach should leverage internationally-recognized best practices and current research if it was to truly gain acceptance in our school. Whether you use the new NET Standards as a framework or something else, it is important that you meet your teachers where they are and stay consistent with what is accepted and established practice in your own school environments.

When we walk into school every day we are confident that kids are learning how to read, write, and do math. Our teachers are trained to teach these subjects. We trust in their professionalism and in the belief that these teachers want to prepare students for their futures.

In our embedded curriculum model, we have tried to ensure that the nature of “what teachers have to teach” seems accessible to them and just as importantly doable – that the conversations involving technology are conversations that teachers are already having about truth, safety, communication, and collaboration.

But theory is not practice.

  • What are the best ways to get teachers not only on board and trained, but fundamentally believing in the importance of including this curriculum into “the way they do business”?
  • How do we get to a place where we have the same confidence in students learning information literacy skills as we do in the other subject areas?
  • If your school is on the right track and doing this, how have you made it happen?
  • What has been the tipping point to go from talking about it, to doing it?

This is where we want to go. We would like your input. It’s time for the collective intelligence of the Web 2.0 world to kick in.

None of us is as good as all of us.

Please chime in.

Thanks for joining us this week. (In particular, thanks to Scott for lending us his audience.)

We’ve enjoyed the conversation.

with Justin Medved

Cross Posted at: Medagogy and Dangerously Irrelevant

You can’t skip the conversations

Also posted as a guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant under the title, “Curriculum 2.0 – building buy-in and shared understanding”

In our last post, Justin and I shared with you our 5 essential questions for the 21st Century Learner as well as our thinking behind how and why we felt the need to re-shape the way “technology” curriculum is embedded into classroom learning. We built our work on our new literacy wiki – as a collaborative environment for us, but also in anticipation of wanting needing to share our work with a greater audience for feedback and ultimately contribution at a later date. The wiki was the perfect environment for this. By documenting the evolution of this curricular journey in a public venue we hope to garner feedback and critical friending that will hopefully lead to a better and stronger framework.

Besides isn’t this “shift” all about the power of sharing and networks?

While it’s focus is on making “technology integration” more accessible to teachers and more meaningful to students, it actually attempts to articulate an approach and create a through line that run beside all other subject curricula. Finally an answer to the question “who is going to teach these skills?”……….. Everyone is.

We called it Curriculum 2.0.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Once we finished the initial framework it was time to get some feedback.

Involving our Curriculum coordinators, Technology Director and our new colleague, Kim Cofino (how lucky were we?!), the conversations that emerged were awesome. We felt it important to shop the concept around to as many different people as possible in order to get a balanced perspective. Teachers ultimately want to know “what will this look like?” and “how will be it be supported?” and we had to have some answers ready. Through conversation, challenging questions, and true collaboration, we were able to fine tune our original 5 questions into three focused roles of technology in 21st century learning. More on this and the on the philosophy behind our structure in our next post, but until then you can ruminate on the diagram below.


In this post, we wanted to focus on the conversations that got us here.

In addition to working with key people at ISB, we presented our work at the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai in mid September. The feedback was very positive. It was validating to see that other technology coordinators were experiencing the same sort of difficulties with past IT integration scope and sequences. And it was energizing to see that our work was striking a chord. [side note: Dennis will present the work further at the EARCOS Teachers’ Conference in Kuala Lumpur in March. If you are there, it’d be great to see you at the session.]

With positive vibes flowing all around, the next step was to include our school leadership. As we mentioned in an earlier post, we work closely with our school Leadership Team in a distributed leadership model with them often looking to us for guidance – leadership in a different direction. Over the past year, we have been presenting various technology tools and ideas to the LT to give them a better sense of what to look for in classrooms and what to expect in educational change in the coming years.

Here in the edublogosphere, we often preach to the converted. In general, there is a lot of agreement on how education needs to change and technology’s role in that change. We recognize the shift that is happening and the impact that will have on our students and should have on their learning. We commiserate on how administration or faculty just don’t get it and celebrate together when they do.

We seldom talk about how important the process to bring them along is – that is a conversation that matters.


Our work with the LT brought this to light for us. To a large degree, they trust us. And that’s a great start, but to enact major curricular change, we had to first convince them of the need. We had to describe an inevitable world that required innovators, thinkers, collaborators, and communicators. One in which knowing something was less important than creating something and in which working in a group meant talking to people around the world and being able to communicate in more than one way.

We had to create a shared understanding of what 21st century learning is and why it’s important. We had to allow them to help frame the context in which this could work at ISB. With that individual, personal input, you can achieve buy-in. Then you can challenge them by asking, what are we going to do about it?

Our point: you can’t skip these conversations.

As other schools or technology folks begin to use our framework to develop their own integration plans, we remind them, make sure you have the conversations. Use our work as a starting point for conversations that encourage questioning and challenge thinking. If we can’t defend our rationale for a curricular model like this, then it isn’t worth doing. Give stake holders a chance to process, question, and understand. (sounds like good teaching!)

Whether it comes via top leadership or from another direction, in order for school change to happen, buy-in has to come from shared understanding. And that only comes from conversations that matter.

For us, the next steps are to flesh out our framework and bring it more formally to teachers, where again, conversation will lead to shared understanding. It’s what didn’t happen at T.C. Williams and why all the tech in the world isn’t improving student learning there.

No matter how “right” we know we are, you must get buy-in and shared understanding.

You can’t skip the conversations.

with Justin Medved

Tomorrow’s post: Refining the Idea

Cross Posted at: Medagogy and Dangerously Irrelevant

Will Richardson wonders about some good stuff…

Will Richardson has a much larger readership than I do, so if you find his post through me, something is amiss. I loved what he said at the end of his post on a recent cover story from Business Week on “The Future of Work” which he shares highlights from.

I wonder how many teachers are getting ready for the new school year by developing a deeply collaborative curriculum, one in which they model for their students not just connections with other teacher/learners but co-creation of knowledge, in whatever forms that takes. I wonder how many of them are being supported in that effort. We have the capability to create these types of environments; what we need is to provide more and more opportunities for teachers to connect and learn with other educators and professionals from around the globe.


Is anyone someone asking their students to co-create knowledge? Where is the support coming from? When will our curriculum not focus on content knowledge, but rather on the co-creation of new knowledge?

Thanks, Will.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Getting lucky and making change

Every now and then you get lucky. And then even more rarely, you get professionally lucky. And then, if all the planets align and you have your lucky socks on, and you eat the right breakfast something happens that fills you up with professional optimism.

In Ed Tech blogging, we tend (not always) to blog about similar ideas. About the need for change and about the power of the change we see coming for learning. And sometimes we ask each other about how to change. Because change is not easy. It is particularly “not easy” in education where the professionals who do the job have a great deal of autonomy and often are resistant to change. So we ask ourselves, “what do we need to do to affect change?”

How do we convince the teachers and administrators at our schools that what we see as NECESSARY, fundamental change needs to happen and it needs to happen soon?

What is the Tipping Point for this change to happen?

Lucky little me might be about to find out.

You see, last year, when I took the technology facilitator job, I was lucky. I joined a technology director whose focus is on learning. He makes his decisions for technology spending on learning and he still has conversations about learning. And he’s supported by a School Head and CFO who also focus first on learning.

Then this year, Justin showed up. Suddenly, I had a NextGen leader pushing my thinking. We bounce ideas off of each other and share in our efforts to create something new, dynamic and effective in educational technology and learning. Well, that’s pretty lucky.

But how lucky would you be if you then are joined by ANOTHER NextGen teacher next year? Yup, that’s happening. Along comes Kim, always learning, to join as an information specialist. Are you kidding me?!? I am not.

Well, that’s just unfair lucky.

It gets better. (now I’m just bragging!)

Our administrators are embracing this thinking about thinking – the focus on thinking as curriculum in itself. This is awesome and it makes me think that I may be seeing the beginnings of real change possibilities. And that’s pretty exciting.

The previously mentioned voices, you’ve been reading, or if you haven’t you should be: Justin at Medagogy and Kim at always learning. But now add a new, different voice to that mix. Our ES Principal, Annelies has begun to blog about “Thinking” in her blog In-tu-it-think and what she’s come to realize in her own growth as a school leader.

What we can do together is more than what I can do.

There is so much that I like about her first post, but that line is my favorite. You have to love a blog from a Principal that has the tag line, “How does education meet the needs of the 21st century learner?

Certainly a welcome new voice to the discussion!

And as fortunate as it’s become for me professionally here, I am pretty psyched about “what we can do together” in the coming years.
Lucky me.