Tuesday, June 18, 2013

We are Living in a #PBLWorld and I am a PBL Girl

So we JUST ended #PBLchat tonight where we had a super high energy chat about making global connections for and with our students.

You can see the archive here in Storify (want to see it as a slideshow? Just add /slideshow to the url, trust me, it is fun to read and share this way!)

Just want to share a few loves...

I love that the folks at this chat have either worked all day, been at a conference all day, are either super close to bedtime or just before dinner time, tweeting from a soccer practice or chatting from their phone while waiting in line somewhere all take time to share and learn with others. 

I love the fact that while I get to work with an amazing network,New Tech Network ,  of collaborators, we are also a part of the larger PBL community across the world and tonight's chat made that so evident.

I love that it was fun to see "friends" at the chat tonight that I have never met, but they have become resources & experts for me via Twitter and/or their blogs or even I have met them just once and I can't wait to see them f2f at conferences this summer.

I love that I "think in PBL" I often use phrases like "I wonder" and "What are our next steps" in my everyday conversation.

I love that as I am planning the decor for an addition we are doing to our house that I want my sister to come visit and "critical friend" my plan.

I love that I can't  read or listen to the news without looking for a driving question or global connection.

I love that I watched & listened to educators run through their Ignite Talks for our national conference and they were FILLED with passion.

I love that several members of my online PLN are students and I value their opinion and so does everyone else in our PLN.

So much more to love about PBL....but that is enough for now!

Anyway...just a little celebratory post about being happy to be a part of something that I am proud to be a part of!

Join us for #PBLChat every Tuesday!  Usually at 8pm EST but once in awhile we change it up for a special collaboration or event.  Follow @NewTechNetwork to get all of the scoop!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Is Your School "Successful"?

Way back in 1997 when we were considering moving back to Indiana to my husband's hometown one of the reasons for choosing this town was because, while the local elementary schools were great where we lived, our kids were moving into middle school and I wasn't thrilled with what I knew (or thought I knew) about the middle and high school.

My views were that there was no sort of "be true to your school" feeling. High school events were well attended, sports teams sometimes didn't have enough players to field a team, the school just wasn't the hub of the community.  Since this was "pre-internet" I went to the library and checked out the Places Rated Almanac and my fears were confirmed around the data they reported for the school, too.

I was happy to be moving to Indiana to a community known by everyone here as "a great place to raise kids".  We often heard things like...

  •  You don't have to lock your doors.
  • Kids ride bikes everywhere, with no fear.
  • They can fish at the hospital pond.
  • On Friday  night everyone is either at the football field, or at a basketball game, depending on the season. (Go ZEBRAS!)
So did that make this a successful school system?

After we lived here for a bit, I actually checked out THIS school system in the Places Rated Almanac and guess what? They had pretty much the same data/test scores/grad rate as the town we left.  

So was one school more successful than the other?

Flash forward to present day and I am happy to say I consider this school (the whole system here) a success!  (It's been a journey undertaken by a lot of great people, but that's another blog post!) A few reasons might be...

  • They are on a path of continuous improvement and reflection
  • They have embraced project based learning
  • They do technology integration really well and are always looking ahead
  • Of course, fantastic dedicated teachers who, even if the face of year after year of budget cuts always find a way
  • The administrators work as a team & the school board is a part of that team
  • Many active, engaged parents & community members
My colleague @PaulSCurtis wrote a blog about school success and the rubric that New Tech Network is sharing. I really like it as a measure, it goes so much deeper than the newspaper headlines we see each year ranking schools by test scores alone.

We are going to be discussing and trying to define "school success" at this week's #PBLChat Tuesday June 11th at 8pm. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts! Join us for the chat!