Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where Good Ideas Come From - The Students!


One of the more thought-provoking books I have read over the last year was Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From.  I find myself reflecting on various passages daily as we chart our path as a 1:1 school, having distributed iPads to over 1,000 students this year.  

The big question for me is similar to the big question Johnson poses:
"What kind of environment creates good ideas?" 
I am sure that a focus on standardized test scores will not get us where we need to go.  I am equally sure that just tossing more technology into the mix will not accomplish anything.  My greatest hope is that students will have access to different opportunities that they would not have had access to prior to our move to 1:1.  The picture I have is one similar to the one Johnson describes in his explanation of the adjacent possible.
"Think of it as a house that magically expands with each door you open. You begin in a room with four doors, each leading to a new room that you haven’t visited yet. Those four rooms are the adjacent possible. But once you open one of those doors and stroll into that room, three new doors appear, each leading to a brand-new room that you couldn’t have reached from your original starting point."
My hope for our students is that the move to 1:1 allows them access to new opportunities that they would not have previously had access to.  Of course a lot of this depends on how we as the adults can create an atmosphere that is not overly restrictive and inhibitive of creativity.

I have been excited over the past few weeks at some things that are happening here at BHS that I feel exemplify the "adjacent possible."  Here are a few of them:

Teaching our school community about new things as part of the team
Our students are taking the lead and writing reviews and tutorials about tools that teachers and students can use to help make their life easier. It is exciting to see students leading the learning as we continue to evolve into a community of learners that is not always directed by the adults. The post linked above is just one of many examples thus far. 
 Interviewing experts about relevant topics and posting the videos online
Instead of just writing about topics of interest, our students are going out and getting first-hand accounts by videotaping people who have familiarity with a topic and then posting the interviews.
Running the new site for our History Dept.
This one impressed me the most due to the great latitude given the students in this case. Where many teachers and dept's have started their own blogs, our new History Dept. Head Mr. Whitten let sophomore Christian Woods have the keys to the car.  Christian created the blog and has been the sole contributor so far, sharing thoughts for and about our BHS History Dept.

Anyway, there are a lot more things to talk about..I look forward to sharing more of the things that our staff and students are up to.

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  1. Yes, our BHS tech savvy students are tremendous. I'm never inhibited to ask them daily for help with my technological glitches, inquiries and concerns. Whenever a student shares a great App, technique or general information in reference to technology, I come running over with my IPad ready to learn and apply. Now, who's the student here??

  2. Great post, Patrick. I loved the student built website and the interviews. It is, I think, a tool that could be used to create dialogue and as a teaching tool for the broad/specific concepts of digital citizenship, including a digital footprint. I could see our high schools doing something similar. I also thought it was a great idea to have students demo different Web 2.0 tools and write up reviews ala the style Richard Byrne uses. Very cool!