Friday, August 5, 2011

Looking Back to Moving Forward

This past week I was able to put the finishing touches on our wireless network upgrade at school.  The project I knew would be a big one to complete on my own.  After 2 months of climbing through ceilings rafters, punching holes, crimping wires I arrived at school this morning with a quiet sense of relief.  In the back of my mind I was planning out my next week and it is going to be mostly focused on Thursday night and the 1:1 Rollout Night.  I have talked about this many times, but what can I say, the project has literally consumed me in the past 8 months, but its has been the culmination of 4 years of planning, studying, coercing, and sometimes armbending to finally get to this point.

I was able to take the afternoon off to come home and spend some overdue time with my two girls and their cousin and after a couple hours of running through the sprinklers, we came in and they quickly fell asleep so I was left with some unusual downtime.  I made some work calls (I can never get away from work!) and soon found myself on the internet and realized that today was a pretty significant day, August 5 was Leadership Day 2012, after reading this article I felt obligated to post something.

I kept on poking around the web and I soon found myself at the Star Wars the Old Republic site (the force is with me!) when my Twitter ping'd a new post from one of my favorite tweeter's @rmbyrne and he linked to a Shift Happens video about Iowa Schools.  After watching this video it made realize that in the past 2 1/2 months was just the beginning.

Watching the video made me realize just how big of a step this is, how big of a challenge it will be, and, in the end how rewarding it will be for the students.  In Riceville, I have had to listen the students and teachers complain in the past couple years about how our computers were not accessible when they needed them.  I had to listen to complaints about 3 classes sharing 1 lab for 45 minutes because that was the only time that the classes could get in the room on that particular day, or this class had to cancel because another class was using the lab.  This teacher wants to do this, but the laptops were so slow, that the website did not work for everyone.  I could continue on this list for a while and I know our equipment was run down, overused and abused.  Abused from overuse, in the past 7 years, in our district, we have had 2 computers broken due to student misuse.  But our laptops were junk, batteries I was told would last 3-4 years with regular use, were dead and needed replacing after 2 years, keys were broken off, not from kids being malicious, but because the plastic springs on them were snapping because of the constant use.

So now the big challenge begins, we have the technology and tools in place to support the technology.  Now the challenge is to make the classrooms engaging for students and to support the teachers in their endeavors.  Tony Wagner (Harvard University) did an interview for Iowa Future and he says "its not what you know, its what you can do with what you know."  He talks about how schools traditionally were set up to teach what he calls Timeless Knowledge, skills and concepts that stand the test of time.  The problem is we are teaching information that is accessible by anyone with an internet connected device.

The challenge is how do we take the Timeless Knowledge and make it relevant and engaging in the classroom for our connected generation of learners.  That is the challenge that I posing to myself and to the teachers at Riceville.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Mr. Schumann, how exciting that you have laid the foundation for a terrific school year. Great timing for #LeadershipDay11, wasn't it?

    I enjoyed reading about your fruitful weeks preparing for the 1:1 kickoff. Best wishes for you and your staff, parents and especially students!