Reaching for awesome

I recently took a trip to Chicago with nine other Lutheran school educators to something called an iPad Summit. The trip was great; we learned so much and had a lot of fun, too! One of the keynote speakers was Will Richardson. He's a former teacher who now speaks across the country about educational technology trends and issues. He wrote the bookWhy School? How Education Must Change When Information and Learning Are Everywhere, and he had some terrific quotes I want to share with you.Quote No. 1: "The fundamental reasons why we created schools are being challenged." Once our students pass the primary grades (where they learn how to read and write), we start loading their minds with facts and content that we believe will prepare them for the next level of facts and content and that will eventually lead them to become "educated." Today, kids can Google almost any fact they want and then some. So what does that leave us to teaching them?Quote No. 2: "We did not sign up for this type of teaching!" Permission to feel anxious and overwhelmed: granted.Quote No. 3: "The change we are in the middle of is not optional." Permission to put the new iPads in the closet and ignore them: denied.Quote No. 4: "School should be the best 7 hours of the day." I really think we can make this happen, even in the age of accountability and standards. The challenge is in creating classrooms that encourage discovery while offering abundant opportunities for students to build necessary skills. Curriculum mapping can help us do that, so can using games like Mindcraft in which students create their own communities. Martin Luther translated the Bible into German because he wanted everyone to be able to search and discover the awesome word of God for themselves. We want the very same thing for our students, but we lose too many of them when we don't adapt and embrace change.Quote No. 5: "What does awesome look like?" Instead of imagining our dream lesson or perfect student, let's think about it this way: What can I do to inspire awesome in my classroom this year?