Sunday, June 29, 2008

Constructivist Consortium at NECC

by Becky Ranks

Today I am in San Antonio, Texas at the first day of NECC. I am attending an event that really is not connected with NECC, but is a very wonderful opportunity to work with teachers from all over the country and the world. It’s called the Constructivist Consortium with Gary Stager. One hundred twenty five teachers are crammed…and I mean crammed into the little Casa Rio Restaurant in downtown San Antonio. We are about to embark on a journey of constructivist learning. At this point of the day we are watching a video of Seymour Papert debating school reform and defending the use of technology in classrooms. His vision has long been in the forefront of our discussions of professional development opportunities in Maine. He sees technology as a medium for learning…comparing it to the arts and clay as a medium for the sculptor. It makes it possible for learning to happen in a creative expressive way especially in the areas of math and science.

Some of the wonderful software we are using today: Kidspiration, Inspired Data, Microworlds EX,Animation-ish, and Stationary Studio from FableVision. At ten o’clock we are handed all of this great software and set loose to construct and create. Everyone is doing something wonderful and different. We have all day just to play and learn….what an opportunity. Could we use this as a model for professional development in Maine? Sometimes I think we do too much talking and do not give teachers the time to “construct” and “create”. But in doing this we then have to think does this kind of learning fit every learner? Some people need more direction and purpose for what they are doing, while others would flourish and thrive in this open-ended environment. Lisa Foster, Gardiner Regional Middle School’s Technology Integrator is my partner today and we are spending this 100 degree day inside in a room buzzing with creativity.

Everyone, at some point in time, should attend a national conference as it refreshes, enriches, and inspires. A whole day to just think, construct, and create is a gift worth giving. Next year NECC will be held in Washington DC…a much closer venue to New Englanders. I would highly recommend thinking about attending and do it early as this event, a pre-NECC event, sold out in two days. I hope to add another post or two this week. See you then!!

1 comment:

Sarah Sutter said...

Don't forget that there is the Constructing Modern Knowledge event in Manchester, NH from July 28-31, which is also run by Gary Stager.

This one's closer to home, and a great chance for some in-depth, hands on work and conversations galore.

I envy you the NECC 08 experience- but I'll be in DC next year for sure!