Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm Getting Engaged!

As a part of our South Zone Administrator Meetings in the Kamloops School District, we build in time for professional development and dialogue on a variety of educational topics.  For example, we have done book studies on Visible Learning by John Hattie, discussed strategies around Special Education, and examined the use of social media for Board Office administrators, Principals and Vice Principals.  I find these meetings invigorating and meaningful, as it gives me a chance to learn from other administrators of both elementary and secondary administrators through these topic lenses. 

In preparation for our meeting next month, our Assistant Superintendent invited us to 'crack open' a new book called Tuned Out - Engaging the 21st Century Learner by Karen Hume.  And while I have only read the first two chapters, I am fascinated by the format of the book.  Mrs. Hume has written the book very accessible language, broken it down into small and easily digestible chunks, and has created a dynamic web guide that provides online discussion areas, activities, and resources so the reader has an interactive experience with the book (and even with Mrs. Hume through a blog--Cool!).  It is very 'engaging', and models many of the characteristics of the educational experience that we want for our students.

I have several thoughts and questions about this book and engaging the 21st century learner.

1) What is a working definition of a 21st century learner?  Am I a 21st century learner?
2) How do we define (and perhaps even measure?) an engaged learner?  Is this a fluid definition that varies from person to person, or are there specific characteristics that I can look for in classrooms and with our faculty during staff meetings to let me know that the learner is actively interested and participating in the class?
3) What can we do to further encourage the creation of these rich and interactive learning environments in each of our classrooms?  What resources do we need to provide for teachers? Professional development? Tech infrastructure?  Time to collaborate on these topics? Peer-to-peer modeling?
4) In terms of technology, are we using web tools to their fullest potential to engage learners, or are we using simply doing with technology what we could do without it (ie. using powerpoint for notes, using digital projectors to show videos, etc.)?
5) What skills are we hoping for our students to acquire in these rich learning environments?  Are we engaging for the sake of keeping kids 'entertained', or are there some baseline competencies that we want for our students and for ourselves as educators?

And while I am going to write more about this book and about 21st century learning skills in future posts, right now I am looking forward to having a better grasp on the answers to these questions as I read Hume's book. 

I encourage each of you to pick up a copy--it looks very useful!


  1. Cale, it sounds like we should start up another #bced book club. I'm in!

  2. sounds like a great book! i'll have to add it to my (long and ever growing) list!


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