Ready to leverage Web 2.0 tools as a powerful learning strategy?
Already shifting your classroom practice but feel the need for more speed?
Either way, you’re a prime candidate for PLP’s highly praised 21st Century-ize Your Curriculum e-course, offered twice this spring (5 weeks beginning February 6 or March 26) and led by one of the nation’s top classroom experts on shifted teaching and learning.
In 2003, Kevin Jarrett left a first career as a corporate IT project manager & consultant to become the K-4 Technology Facilitator at Northfield Community School in Northfield, NJ. In this role he’s responsible for technology instruction in a lab setting for the entire elementary student body (520+ students). Rather than just “teaching computer class,” Kevin delivers engaging, challenging and enjoyable lessons that integrate with content being taught by his classroom-teacher peers. Kevin also partners with fellow teachers to help shift their classroom practice by leveraging state-of-the-art Web 2.0 tools and social media technologies.
Kevin has designed & led technology integration workshops in his district and state and around the USA. A Google Certified Teacher, Kevin was named Northfield’s Teacher of the Year in 2008-2009. He also received the International Society for Technology in Education’s “Making It Happen” Award in 2008 in recognition of his efforts supporting ISTE’s presence in Second Life. Kevin is a co-founder of the EdCamp movement and a firm believer in the value of social networks for professional learning. No surprise that he is very visible on Twitter. He’s also an active member of the New Jersey Education Association and has taken a leadership role in planning and organizing the NJEA Convention’s “High Tech Hall” since its inception in 2009.
In this interview with PLP, Kevin describes just what you can expect from his interactive e-course. He even pokes some fun at the course title!
1. Give us a short description of your e-course. What does it mean to “21st Century-ize Your Curriculum”?
“21st Century” is one of the most overused terms in education today. Anyone teaching today is a “21st Century Teacher.” The question is how is their teaching practice today different from last year? Three years ago? Five? Ten? We’ve all heard the joke about the teacher who retired after 30 years, having taught the same lessons every year, 30 times in a row. Clearly that’s an exaggeration, but the point is still relevant: the world has changed. How about your lessons?
Integrating technology into instruction in a meaningful way — one that challenges and excites students — involves a lot more than just shoehorning some gee-gaw technology into a tired, stale lesson. It requires the ability to look at learning goals — what you want students to know and be able to do — through a new teaching lens made possible by technologies that didn’t even exist a few years ago. It requires a risk-taking attitude. It requires knowledge of the available tools. It requires an understanding of best teaching practices as you APPLY those tools in a classroom. Finally, making this shift will require considerable extra effort, way, way, waaaaaaay beyond your contractually provided “prep time.”
This course is all about giving teachers the chance to see, explore, use and understand five relatively new technologies. It’s about trying hard and failing well and trying some more. It’s about helping yourself while you help others. It’s about finding ways to take old lessons (or lesson objectives) and revitalize them with several exciting, free, readily-available technologies. It’s about the student learning that results when you hit the mark.
2. What grade levels or subject areas will benefit most from this course?
The course is designed with all K-12 teachers in mind. All subjects can benefit — language arts, math and science, social studies, health & physical education, world languages, drama, art — you name it. In our sessions we strive to dream up engaging, practical, scalable lessons. To be honest, since I teach elementary, my bias is towards grades K-4/5. But we’ve had teachers across the K-12 spectrum join in and collaborate successfully.
3. We know some folks will take your course because they can’t wait to find out about cool tools and ways to use them in the classroom. But others may be a little intimidated by your resume and think it’s just going to be too much, too fast, and pretty geeky. What would you say to them?
The course does move pretty fast — one tool/technology per week — but that week is spent reading, researching, discussing, exploring, dreaming and contemplating. It culminates in a webinar that is “hands on,” not “talking head.” We’ve “flipped” the classroom so the lecture and reading happens BEFORE the live session, where we all come together and do stuff. This means people work at their own pace to prepare for the group session — with me offering support via the virtual learning community and email if needed. As a result, our time together in the weekly webinar is productive, fun and rewarding.
4. Given that reassurance, what are some of the coolest things you’ll be sharing?
Actually, I have no idea, because the coolest things we’ve typically seen in the course will come from the participants — the EXAMPLES of how the tools we will cover are being or can be used in the classroom. Here’s what I mean: When you see a teacher share their excitement about how Voicethread engaged their social studies class in real conversation — outside of the physical classroom environment with all its attendant pressures — that’s exciting.
That said, it’s true that we’ll be exploring some of the most exciting Web 2.0 tools available today — blogs & Twitter; wikis; digital video; Google Apps and Voicethread. The links, resources and pedagogical examples we’ll present, dissect and discuss will be the very coolest thing. Participants leave this course with the very latest in practical knowledge about these tools. THAT is cool!
5. How do you plan to structure the 5-week course? Will participants be applying what they learn as the course unfolds?
Yes, as I explained above, it’s flipped. Here is the actual schedule. The week starts with me posting a series of messages in the discussion forum. Students then take time to review the materials and dive into online discussions before the webinar, as their schedules permit. That way, when we meet, we focus on helping everyone assimilate the knowledge, with hands-on experiences (we build stuff together right in the webinar), answer questions, get people’s creative juices flowing.
Week 1 – Blogs & Microblogging (Twitter)
Week 2 – Wikis
Week 3 – Digital Video
Week 4 – Google Apps
Week 5 – Voicethread
6. In addition to teachers, who else might benefit from joining in the fun? School instructional and/or technology coaches? Principals interested in Leadership 2.0? Others?
This course is clearly best for teachers, practitioners — but tech coaches have participated in the past and loved it, and, we’ve had supervisors in too. It’s all about understanding the potential and seeing it happen in your district, either with your own students, some other teacher’s students, or those who work for you.
7. What else would be great for participants to know about 21st Century-ize Your Curriculum?
I’d like them to hear from people who took the course already — we have a few great sound bites already — these folks are the “satisfied customers” whose testimonials will convince people to take this course.
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This was a useful course for me to learn about a range of web 2.0 technologies for possible use in the classroom. Some I’ve used; others I haven’t based on what the students need. I think the organizers of the course would want it that way. The course was very well organized and executed. It was enjoyable to do a “live” course online.
I loved this class because it was so hands-on and practical. Everything we talked about I was able to transition into using with my class right away. I liked collaborating with other teachers – hearing their ideas and getting input from them. Kevin was so available and was a great person to bounce ideas off of – a wonderful resource!
I took this course in August 2011. I teach an 8th grade computer applications class and also started a new position as part-time technology integrationist for my school district. This class was perfect for me! I was able to bring back so many new 21st century tools to not only my classroom but also to my newly formed technology team. It was my first exploration in flipped education. It was so valuable to have already done the work and then participate in the conversation rather than just be a passive listener of the information. When had about eight students from around the world that we interacted with. It was so interesting to hear how they would use the exciting tools we were learning about. I also loved how Kevin pushed us. When we made a post or statement – he always asked us to dig deeper! I also appreciated how we left with many “finished products” that were ready to go for the start of the school year! This is such a valuable class for any 21st century teacher!!
This class inspired me to incorporate cloud applications in my curriculum to teach critical thinking and writing. One new project, for my tenth grade English class, focused on Animoto as a means of answering a Thoreau-inspired question: Where do I Live and What do I live for? The thoughtful discussion about writing through the combination of text, image, and sound in Kevin’s class prepared me for the range of questions and creative applications that my students generated. The project was a huge success, and I had teachers from around the school mention the buzz in the tenth grade about their work. I so appreciated Kevin’s thoughtful conversation with a host of different teachers in classrooms ranging from elementary to high school. He is an excellent facilitator and guide in this brave new world of web 2.0. I have recommended this class to all my colleagues.
I loved this class because it opened up so many avenues for me. Kevin is a wealth of information. I took this class with a few teachers from my school. It was our “night out” together. It was terrific to share ideas with other teachers and come together at school to take what we learned and shared and put it into practice. I teach kindergarten. I am introducing my students to some web 2.0 tools at the very beginning stages. It is so rewarding to see their excitement. It is amazing what they have accomplished. Thank you Kevin!
There were so many things about this course that I liked. I will start off by saying that Kevin is a great teacher–motivated, enthusiastic, and encouraging. I don’t think any of else ever felt we had a “dumb” question. I also found the weekly format where we met in Cyberspace really set the tone for the whole course. I definitely gained confidence as I prepared for this school year, and I have tried new things right along. The cool thing is that there are still a number of things in my bag of tricks that I learned during the course that I have yet to use, but know they are there, ready when I am. My students have enjoyed learning using web 2.0 technologies, and considering we moved to a 1:1 model this year, my training with Kevin was even more helpful. Thanks again, Kevin!
The course helped cement my decision to take risks in the classroom and shift the way learning takes place. Each topic that was covered seemed carefully selected to give us the essential information in a short period of time. The format of the course was equally well planned out and allowed for lots of conversation with colleagues and with Kevin. Not only did I learn a great deal about why to use the tools and how to use the tools, but I was inspired and encouraged by Kevin to be a better teacher by redesigning my curriculum for the new competencies students need. His enthusiasm sparked a new type of creativity in the course participants. In short, his course gave us the support to change.
This course has increased the amount of technology I use in my 2nd grade classroom. The user-friendly options like google docs and voice thread are easy to use and the kids love it! Kevin was an awesome teacher too, so calm and relaxed. If you ran into any problems in the middle of the day, some how Kevin always found the time to walk us through our missed steps.