Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SWSWedu 2012 and The Power of Project Share

SWSWedu 2012 is becoming the Texas global think tank conference. As an active participant last year, it is great to see the conference really take shape and grow to include industry professionals, young future start up companies, top educators, journalists, film makers, administrators, and teachers.  All collaborating to attempt to solve the many problems facing our educational system. Our public education system encourages that all students can learn, and this is the strength of our nation's economic future. The idea that anyone who works hard, is given the equal opportunity to learn, can achieve and pull themselves out of poverty through education is a uniquely American idea. My biggest take aways this year includes the following.

  The Power of Project Share: Project share will continue to be the platform for Texas educators to tap into, and is currently funded through 2020. Project share is powerful, versatile, easy to use, flexible, includes many top resources, and is well designed. Administrators need to encourage and model active participation, and explore all of the possibilities and connections that project share provides. Project share developers are open to suggestions for improvement, and I am very pleased with the progress. Developers and leaders working on Project Share initiatives have listened to critiques, corrected many, and have promised to continue to enhance the system. As I research other alternatives, I have yet to find another state that empowers classrooms with a true course management system as powerful as Project Share. Yes, there are other alternatives, but can you truly collaborate with other classrooms beyond your district? Do other course management systems include a content repository where educators can create, share, and embed content within the system for future use? Project share will soon receive a face lift. Parents and community members will have increased access to the many powerful learning tools and features. Districts should see a continued dedication by the state to implement project share. Training resources and support will be more widely available.  

The Power of STEM: Robotics is a science, art, and engineering challenge. Industry leaders are begging teachers to provide hands on activities that engage students in the areas of science, math, technology, and art. Robotics can be introduced as early as first grade and can be coupled with advancing robotic experiences throughout grade levels. Robotics gives students hands on approaches to solving real problems, and students are able to connect math concepts to real world engineering problems. Solutions are tested with a physical model. Students are allowed to fail and learn how to apply the scientific method to produce a real product or idea.

  Challenge Based Learning: Challenge based learning engages students, can improve academic performance, and allows for the entire learning experience to become more authentic and real for the student. Challenge based learning is student centered, and can be integrated in any teacher's curriculum.

  Highly Effective Teaching: Steven Farr's session on Teaching and Leadership encouraged me to think about how highly effective schools operate. His organization, Teach for America, encourages teachers and students to set goals. Highly effective teachers do believe all students can learn when given the opportunity. Kids believe there is no correlation between hard working and being smart. We must change how kids view hard work.

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