Thursday, April 17, 2008

Skills need to move past content - in our dealings with parents

Today I was lucky enough to sit in on a presentation by Will Richardson speak to a mixed group of administrators, teachers, and technology coordinators. While most people were ohhing, ahhing , and blown away by the web 2.0 tools I was left thinking about something else.

His opening monologue made a great case for why we need to change how we do things in schools. He focused on a lot of ideas - but one that has been stuck in my mind is content. Why are we so worried about content with our kids - they can get information for free now. It is what they do with it that is important.

I agree with Will - we are stuck on content. Education cannot break free from the need to teach "just-in-case" information. Shouldn't we be more focused on what to do with that information?

This is an important concept...but it isn't where my thoughts stopped...

I started blending what he was saying in my mind with my last post. I focused in on the fact that there is a big deal being made out of giving our parents content.

SIS systems, notification systems, and websites are all getting better at getting crucial information to our parents. Are we smart enough to learn from the crisis of learning with our students to not replicate it with our parents? Are we going to focus on content or on skills - are we just going to give them a bunch of information or are we going to teach them that they can do something with that content?

I think the beginning of this starts in 2 ways -
1. Allow for 2 way communication -
--let parents ask questions and provide feedback. It seems we as educators always say we want parents involved until they show up at our door questioning what we do. Isn't that the type of skill that we are training our students now to use? Then when they use it as adults "against us" we are taken aback.
2. Provide resources that help parents use the information we provide for good - not bad.
--I think I am going to find, or make, a few videos that demonstrate good dialog between a parent and child regarding the information that they can gather from our SIS and website. I want to make these available for my parents and give them strategies for getting the job done.

Why should we expect that parents will have the skills we desire, especially when the content we are providing is so different?


Wesley Fryer said...

Henry: I think you are making some great points and connections here. When districts setup an information portal for parents, in essence they are saying (in a very tangible way) THESE are the things we think are important about your child and his/her learning. You are absolutely correct that schools should integrate much richer information within those portals for parents to see on a daily basis. As students write the web and create digital artifacts which can populate their electronic portfolio, those items should be readily accessible and linked so parents can view them. I am thinking beyond links to blog posts, but that would be a good place to start.

I haven't heard anyone else make this connection from web 2.0 content and what our students create that is valuable, and information portals that districts are setting up. GREAT thinking here, thanks for sharing it out loud. :-)

Henry Thiele said...

Wes -

I think it goes beyond sharing - we have to tell parents here is what you can learn from seeing it - and from there empower them to use that knowledge to make their kids better learners. I want to look beyond the point where sharing (content) is present and start talking about what we should do then.