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How is the PLP experience going for Team Haverford?

From Dru Ciotti
This PLP experience has, so far, been very rewarding in terms of giving me EVEN MORE to think about in terms of how to encourage the upper school faculty to view technology not as an add-on but as an integral part of their teaching and of our students' learning. I envision classroom teachers using tools like wikis, Ning, or Elluminate to eliminate the boundaries created by their classroom walls and to really empower our students with 21st century skills. Some are willing to jump on this quickly moving train, and others are still looking for parking at the station. The good conversations I've had with our group so far have opened up for me the possibility that not everyone is willing to run for the train, and I have to be okay with that. I need to focus on the ones that want to go on the journey.

From Nick Romero:
Joining PLP has pushed me to re-examine what I am doing in my class and how to improve it. As a teacher I constantly ask myself: how can I better engage my students and enrich their experience? How can I make their learning more meaningful? PLP is helping me find answers to those questions. Meeting (in person and virtually) teachers from other schools and learning about their successes, questions and struggles in implementing 21st Century Skills in their classrooms has been invaluable. Ever since the first meeting, my mind has been spinning. I feel there is so much to learn about what these skills are and how to effectively teach them to my students. I have a steep learning curve, but I am excited to take this on.

I am learning a great deal from our PLP experience. I would categorize myself as a beginner with most Web 2.0 tools. Prior to PLP, I maintained a social networking site and surfed the same old sites on the internet. Now, I subscribe to a few blogs (something I learned to do at our first meeting) and I’ve been much more interested in joining the conversation and responding to what I am reading and learing online. The only wiki I knew before PLP was Wikipedia, which I always associated with dubious information. I now see wikis as a valuable learning tool and am excited to see how I can use them in class.

Another benefit of this experience is getting to know faculty and staff members outside my division. The majority of my time that is not spent with students is spent with other teachers in the middle school. Working with members of the upper school, lower school and technology staff has given me a greater appreciation for all the work that is being done at The Haverford School.

From Dennis Arms:

The PLP experience has provided me with an outlet to discuss and learn about 21st century teaching and learning with my colleagues, and other schools. I’m hoping that through the PLP program I can learn new techniques and information that I can share with my school community. The change in how our students are learning has been exponential and it going to take more than just me to shift teaching and learning.

I think the PLP program is a great conversation starter. My hope is, that the faculty members involved in the program will share all of the knowledge and skills they gain with others.

From Lisa Snyder:
Boy, they weren’t kidding when they said this would be powerful! From the very first, I’ve done nothing but learn. I would admit, though, that a lot of what I’ve learned I had not expected to.

I figured that, by now, I would have gained a great facility with the tools. I’d know how to maneuver in the Ning; post to forums, read and organize blogs, create my own blog, etc. Full disclosure demands that I admit that I’ve never been much of a tool person. I’m not the type to get a new tool and play with it until I’ve got the whole of its applications down. But without really knowing what PLP would bring, I assumed that it would be the tools I would learn – how to use various features and how to apply them to my learning.

What I’ve come to realize is that, through PLP, we are gaining exposure to the world that our kids already inhabit easily – and learning in that environment is not neat and tidy. I wrote my first ning post about ambiguity and how learning to live – and learn – in an ambiguous world is not easy. It requires openness to new experiences and letting-go of my tradition-based ideas of what schooling is. Learning is not linear, and while I’ve espoused that for years, it wasn’t until this experience of PLP that I was able to live the non-linear, sometimes frustrating, always interesting world of a 21st century learner.

I’ve come away from these first two months with a more sophisticated view of teaching and with a growing empathy for our digital immigrant teachers, who are wrestling with change and how to navigate themselves through it.

I’ve also experienced the very powerful feeling that comes from having a ning colleague read my posts, find something in there of use, and respond in a thoughtful, serious way to my thoughts. Authentic assessment! Wow, I always knew it was an important concept, but I didn’t know how it would feel to receive authentic feedback from people I respect and admire. It feels great!

So, the lessons I’ve learned from PLP have been important ones – and I’m sure that Will and Sheryl intended for me (and the rest of us) to have the opportunity to share these same kinds of experiences. For those who are wondering, “what’s next?” or “when are we actually going to do something?” I would have to argue that, if you really take a learning posture – give up your control and your need to feel industrious – you will find that you are learning. And you have been all along!

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