Monday, September 15, 2008

Meeting Dr Tim Tyson

Just back at school and I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Tim Tyson. He is the former principal of Mabry Middle School. It was a pleasure to meet him and listen to him talk. I am pleased to know that most of what I do as a Math teacher comes through in his vision for education. I must be on the right path.

Dr. Tyson's first session was From Personal Knowledge to Global Contribution. He hit the audience first with this thought.

What are you supposed to do at school? Is it Make good grades or is it to make the world a better place. This part of the session really focused on creating individuals who want to learn to learn as opposed to those who just want a grade. What intrinsically motivates students to learn...?

Dr. Tyson then took the audience on a tour of his life and the changes that have happened. Growing up in the time of John Dewey when most schools were still creating drones for the factories that were just springing up. Those students who have been created for a factory job or assembly line process are now unemployed and most labour is now overseas. If we had done more with Dewey back then people would be better prepared to be independent contractors in the labour force. He showed a statistic that showed that 33% of Americans now are independent contractors due to job market changes. Now think about the future and what that might hold. Why are we still teaching like we need to prepare kids to work in a factory or assembly line.

The road to change happens when kids take ownership of their learning. Technology will revolutionize this. School needs to change and be reformed. For all too long students have been passively complaint where Dr. Tyson was teaching. This was not good enough. He wanted kids to be empowered to make a contribution now. Project driven instructional activities would provide a base for this change to happen. When you go to his former School's Site you will see what they have created.

At Mabry Middle School students create video projects that earn prestige all over the world. The students want to learn about the topics that they have chosen and spend countless hours away from school creating these videos. Go to the school site or on Itunes to see samples of the students work.

The second session was about School 2.0. If you read this blog it is nothing new to you. Here Dr. Tyson highlighted many social network tools and showed how you could use them in your school. As I looked around the room many heads were nodding and perhaps a few teachers were converted to the fold. But all I could think about was the first part of the session. How could I get my Grade 8 team to do these student initiated projects. I came back to the school and immediacy showed the LA teacher the videos and got her hooked on using this as a project in Language Arts. I then went to the Social teacher who was interested in using some of the blogging ideas in his classroom. This just leaves the Science teacher to get on board and when I show him how the students can create video podcasts of what they are learning in class I am sure he will be hooked.

Bringing Dr. Tyson to Winnipeg was brilliant on the part of Seven Oaks School Division. For an inservice to start the year I think change for them. I know change will happen for the grade 8 students at Sargent Park

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