After a fantastic Day 1 at eth Anglophone East NPDL Regional Summit, I am splitting pizza, veal, and the tallest cheeze cake with Michael Fullan, at a table with Meg and Joanne from NPDL and District Office people like Pam and Gregg. It was a bit surreal for a classroom teacher to be in this situation. #very exciting.
The excitement skyrocketed when I found out that the next day, Joanne Quinn would be visiting our school and my classroom. She travels around the world looking at wonderful examples of Deeper Learning for a living and now she will be seeing my class in action. Further more, it won’t be me in the classroom running things, but rather my student teacher. I have been talking about Competencies long before we heard of 21st Century Learning and before the formation of NPDL. In fact, I created the first SMART Collaborative Classroom so that students could leverage the interactive surfaces to instigate communication, collaboration and critical thinking in group work. Now THE Joanne Quinn will be coming to see it first hand.
When she walks in the room, students had already spent 2 days designing and conducting a lab on Newton’s 2nd Law and were now gathered around SMARTBoards in groups of 3 or 4 co-writing. There were lots of conversations between students about punctuation, voice, organization, interpreting graphs and understanding the science. When asked, students talked about how using the SMARTBoards forced students to focus on the same portion of the lab report at the same time, which caused conversations that are vastly different than when students divide and conquer in isolation.
At the end of the class, I asked Joanne what she thought. I was taken a little bit aback by her comment. “You have not incorporated the competencies in any way like we had planned”. I did not know at first that this was a compliment. She talked about how they started NPDL to help teachers embed the development of Competencies in their classrooms and it was particularly difficult to find great examples at the high school level. “I have nothing for you”, she says. Apparently, I was natural. She did not see the decade of thought and experimentation that preceded her visit. The technology was leveraged perfectly to develop communication. “You are so much further ahead of what we have seen at high school level around the world”. Outside, I think I said something like, “thank you, you are most generous.” Inside, it was one of the best feelings I have had in a long time. Validation that the hard work on this weird idea has legs.
“A visit to the Collaborative Physics Classroom is glimpse into what learning for the 21st century should be- students highly engaged in authentic real life tasks where they can be creative, collaborative and unique. Students demonstrate a strong grasp of the foundational skills and concepts but most importantly are applying them in ways that will impact their world locally and globally.” -Joanne Quinn, Global Director, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL).