You have to forgive me: I tend to gush when I get excited. And I have to apologize: I could not write all that I wanted to write, because of struggles powering my laptop– this facility is deeply lacking in outlets.
This was a really, really excellent presentation; I believe it may be perhaps the Best ever in my experience at NAIS. The message of this event could not have been more directed to the most important thing in our work, that school must become (again) a place of living, breathing, and experiencing the active work of learning, of learning by doing, and that our students will be best prepared for their challenging futures in schools where they are tackling problems and delivering products.
I certainly appreciated and admired very much the fine words of Google’s Megan Smith and Stanford’s Shelley Goldman; they offered great enthusiasm, great wisdom, and great encouragement.
But for me, it is the emergence here for NAIS of the very excellent New Technology High School and Network, and its sometimes associated organization, Edutopia, as a a true, and enormously important, force to be reckoned with. To my observation, neither NTHS nor Edutopia have been much recognized, much discussed, much appreciated ever before at NAIS. But here today, here they are, and this is a revolution, a groundswell that is going to sweep learning and insist on it becoming, and facilitate it becoming, more engaging, more authentic, and more rooted in performance tasks that demand students learn and demonstrate thinking, problem-solving, communicating, and writing of the highest order.
There are other components to this too: CWRA, the College and Work Readiness Assessment, is also connected; it is now increasingly being used in NTHS schools, and is a great tool for strengthening and reinforcing problem-based learning and performance tasks in our learning environments.
NTN President Dr. Monica Martinez is brilliant: she sees what is exactly most important, that we as schools and teachers unleash and empower and facilitate our students in their learning. This is not only more motivating, it is more meaningful, and results in kids who can do more, who can accomplish more, and who can create more. I found her to be the most thoughtful and informed speaker on 21st century learning (because it is learning that matters most) we have had the opportunity to hear in many an NAIS meeting. When she spoke of having our kids in nature AND having them use technology, of a both/and strategy rather than an either/or, I was moved and inspired: she is an excellent speaker and commentator, and I have hopes we can hear her again within NAIS- and that we can seek new ways of collaboration wit the fine New Technology Network.