My Superintendent just attended his annual Superintendent's Retreat featuring Alan November . When he came back we spent about 2-1/2 hours discussing what he had learned and what kind of learning epiphany he had in 5 hours with Alan November. I am in awe that he has made a complete 180 degree shift in his thinking about how school should be. We met with the board last night to present our hearts and minds about how school had to dramatically change. We both emphasized to the board that continuing on with coercive methods, no student device usage and forcing CSCOPE down teachers throats was not working and we couldn't continue to do it in good conscious. My position is that if we didn't make this move that I would be looking for another position where I could fulfill my mission of: Creating a world of abundance by leading others to become change adept and future ready life long learners. The board was very receptive. We are not waiting to move on this learning revolution.
We are presently working with teachers to transition away from CSCOPE and moving towards Project based learning including A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD/BYOT) policy. With the BYOD policy being an instructional initiative along with project based learning and not simply a technology add on of the famous Alan November $1,000 pencil.
I'm presently allowing my student council and my National Honor Society students to crowd-source the bring your own device (BYOD) policy that we will use. Students having this much say in Munday High School is unprecedented. In fact I'm thinking in most schools it would be unusual.
We have already opened up the network for the students and they have been informally accessing our network clandestinely with no teacher or administrator approval at the rate of about 100 mobile devices on at any given time during the day (I love that). After the BYOD policy is developed by the student leaders, we will be eliminating the ban on electronic devices and moving instead to a any device any-time policy for students and teachers. I was chuckling about the fact that my secretary was lecturing a student today about using her cell phone at school as she was collecting the $15 fee to get her phone back. How Ironic! I look forward to the day that we formally lift the ban on student technology (Bootleg Technology as Sean Cain puts it @lysnation). I also look forward to the formal lifting of the ban on student use of social media during the school day.
We have already had the local telephone cooperative lay a line to our building so that they could provide us with high speed access through fiber to the net. We are currently negotiating with them as to the price for this.
To facilitate our transition to Project based learning we will be taking our administrators, a team of teachers, and a team of students to Manor New Tech High School in Manor Texas (Outside of Austin) for their Think Forward Institute in December. Here is an edutopia video on the best practices and implementation strategies that this revolutionary high school has in place. The teachers we have discussed jettisoning CSCOPE with have been very receptive and are excited about the possibilities of being free to teach again without all the extreme pressure of test prep, rigid scope and sequence documents. and tons of assessment. We are fully recognizing the STAAR test (Cue the Darth Vader Imperial March Music) but are choosing to make that only one small consideration. We all have a vision that the majority of our students can learn what they need to learn in meaningful projects. The ones who fail the STAAR (whatever the hell that means) will be placed for a couple of extra periods in a STAAR class where they will get test prep. The rest of our students will never see the drill and kill methodology of Test Prep every again. We firmly believe that it is time that student's are taught real world skills that they can use to problem solve in the 21st Century.
Given the acceleration in technology and invention that Generation C will cause to take place we have no time to waste. Several of the pieces that I've read about Preparing for Generation C predict that the revolution that they will cause when they enter the workforce will make the industrial revolution pale in comparison.
I know the devil is in the implementation, but we are committed to doing this important work for kids. We have prepared ourselves and the board for the potential of declining STAAR scores in the initial implementation.
Miraculously and suddenly (and with much prodding from me, tons of help from Guthrie Virtual Schools, The implementation of Senior Project, the implementation of TCEA Robotics class and the success of DIMedia) I find that the Superintendent is conceptually agreeing with me on all of these issues. I'm frankly stunned as I was practically resolved to myself that I would be looking for a place to implement my vision of school in the coming months at another school. It is like my superintendent had a spiritual experience at this retreat with Alan November.
To begin this learning revolution I will be starting to do Google Apps for education training of all students in small groups (Teachers can join if they wish but I fully expect students to lead them with this and much other technology). I would love to get to the point where Mass Customized Learning is the norm but this will take some work. This is my long term vision for Mass Customized Learning and school transformation.
One of the tools I've discovered is Project Foundry which promotes itself to be a project based learning management system that integrates with Google Apps for Education, mobile devices, and Moodle. I've read some about it and it looks interesting. To further explore this product I'm doing the Project foundry webinar tomorrow at 2:30. I think it might be just what we need to manage our project based learning. If this is what I think it is it would be an amazing tool to manage a courses like DIMedia in a truly integrated experience for our students.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this product and this mission that we've established to change education in Munday Texas. I look forward to your thoughts, comments, and ideas. Thank you for bringing me along on this challenging and exciting adventure. Without all of you I would not have this vision, this mission or this fire to help students and teachers love learning again. I'm escpecially thankful for Carrie Ross (@msrossenglish), Troy Mooney (@troymooney), and Michael Ogg (@principalalton) who continue to inspire me was we work together to create a #txed revoltuion.
My personal Mission in life is: I Co-Create a world of abundance through leading others to become change adept and future ready life long learners. Whats your mission?