Friday, June 15, 2012

Alan November Workshop: Part 1 of ?

Back in May, I was blessed to be asked to attend a 2 day Alan November Workshop this summer.  I eagerly accepted, because I have heard SUCH amazing things (both from teachers at my school and outside the district)!  The incredible things they learned really intrigued me (you know me and my technology!), and as always, I want to know more about…well…pretty much everything! Haha!
I will admit, when Tuesday rolled around, I wasn’t quite excited to get out of bed earlier than I had been the past week (it’s funny how quickly we get into summer mode).  But, I did wake up, wash my hair, put on make-up (and a happy face) and off I went to day one of my workshop.
OMG.  Let me just stop right now and tell you how thankful I am that I got to attend!  I learned SOSOSOSO much, and I can’t wait to get started on some of it, and of course, I can’t wait to share some of my newly acquired info with YOU ALL!  There is SO much, though, that I am going to break it up into a few chunks, partly so you won’t get bored of reading, and partly so I won’t get carpal tunnel from typing a novel about it!  :)
So, on to “Chunk One” of Alan November Learning:

Alan November's Keynote-

Alan November opened the whole 2 day workshop with a fun (and FUNNY) keynote.  It’s hilarious when you first see him, you think he’s going to be a techy nerdy man who is dry and boooring.  BUUUT it’s quite opposite!  He is SO random and SO funny!  His voice CRACKS me up, and he definitely kept me on my toes and listening throughout his keynote speech! 

Mr. November in action!
Here are a few of his thoughts—I’d love for you to “ponder them” and tell me what you think:

1. Technology is about 2 things: information and communication.  When we talk about “advances” in technology, we’re really talking about advances in how we get our information or how we communicate. 

(*My thoughts…hmm…he’s totally right!  EVERY piece of technology I could come up with was for one of those 2 purposes (if not for BOTH!).  Blogger: communication AND information.  Teacher mic: communication.  Facebook: communication.  Websites: mostly information.  TVs: mostly information.  Phones: mostly communication…except when I’m looking up info on my iPhone…and the list can go on and on…)
2. We need to start using technology as a student directed resource.  There are so many great tools, programs, and more out there that students can use on their own to aide in their learning.  BUT, these require students directing their own learning.  No teacher “telling” students to get online and play this math game on this level for this long.  It’s about teachers letting go of some control and asking themselves, “What control am I willing to give up?”  Hanging on to all control in our classrooms is one of the biggest barriers of technology.

(*My thoughts…Guilty (partially)!  I do try to “control” the technology in my classroom.    BUT, at the same time, I do teach 2nd grade.  They definitely need some guidance.  For example, I have my “Computer Card” envelopes that allow students to get on to the computer with 2 options of sites for the day.  So, I think I KIND OF give students some choice in allowing them to choose their own direction.  I would never just let them have free range of the computers, though!  Keep in mind, this workshop was for K-12, so maybe Mr. November hasn’t worked a lot with the younger kiddos… )
3. Children in elementary school will be reading more on the internet than in books (throughout their lifetimes).  We need to teach children how to “read” the internet.  This includes critical thinking skills, common sense, and learning how to evaluate information online.  Mr. November then went on to share a story about a high school boy “Zach” who wrote a whole research paper claiming that the Holocaust never happened.  Research you ask?  It was all online.  Click here to see the whole story written byAlan November.  It’s short and interesting.  *There is also a great blog post on the November Learning site, here.

(*My thoughts…YES!  I do this!  Ding ding ding!  Finally, something I do correctly!  I ALWAYS tell my students to THINK about the information they’re reading.  Does is make sense?  Does it SOUND correct?  We also talk a lot during our “research report” segment about reliable sources online.  So yay for me!  Gold star for starting my kiddos early on this one!)
So that’s where I’m going to leave off today.  It’s a lot… I know.  But, I promise, if you’re a techy like me, and you love to share technology with your class, it’s so worth it!  I’m going to be sharing LOTS of fun tips and information over the next week or so, so please keep checking back!  I’ll try to keep them short and to the point!
One last thought to leave you with (courtesy of Mr. November): Yes, Texas is a standardized testing state, and that tends to have many teachers “teaching to the test”. (I know many of you all out there aren’t from Texas, but you can read on, anyways, because it still applies!)  There is no testing, though, for internet or computer skills.  These, though, are going to be a LIFELONG aptitude our students need.  So, how are YOU going to make sure your students get the technology education they need?


  1. This was so interesting to me! This year when students would ask me questions, I would reply, "How can we find out?" I was amazed that even kindergarten students would reply, "Google it!" I really made an effort this year to do just that ( teachable moment!) using my Mimio Board. Thank you so much for sharing! I look forward to your future posts! Lauren
    Teacher Mom of 3

  2. What a great post. I hadn't heard of Alan before. I really need to find more ways to get technology into my classroom (something much more than the daily computer rotation station). I cannot wait to keep reading your posts. Glad I found you . . .

    Kelley Dolling
    Teacher Idea Factory