Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Kevin Honeycutt - Hooking Learners with Digital Tools

When you walk into the room you note straight away, beside the lecturn, is an electric guitar - no two - just spotted the black one against the black lecturn.  Hmmm, what will he do with these?

My second breakout at ULearn12 was with Kevin Honeycutt.  He was also the Keynote Speaker on Thursday morning.  I've been following Kevin Honeycutt on Twitter for nearly a year.  Why?  Because everyone else I was following was following him.  However, I really didn't know anything about him that much before I came in the room for this breakout.

Breakout #2:

Kevin came out with a stream of gems right from the beginning!!  It was hard to keep up, but I tried.  And there is so much more on his website:  http://kevinhoneycutt.org/
Sometimes people don't like you to be innovative.  It means they might have to do it too.  This quote stood out for me!!  I've so been there, and it can really hold you back.  So I need to strive to innovate so my students will too.
Have a YouTube Channel.  Kevin does:  http://www.youtube.com/user/kevinessdack?feature=results_main.  He has so much on his channel - personal observations, tips for teachers, videos of working with children.....  You will also find the best teachers on YouTube.  Kevin had always wanted to learn how to play guitar.... he found people on YouTube who had posted lessons, so that's how he learned.
We need to be in partnership with the parents of our students and one way to do this is to have parents nights at school to build that partnership.  While they are there, record parents saying one thing they are happy with about the school and then mash it up, put it on your website - it is free advertising and it is your community's voice.  These soundbites of parents giving positive feedback about your teaching, your school, and your class can be used to fight back against cuts.  We need to make our kids famous to keep funding and programmes.  We need to get free advertising.

Kevin did this when the Arts budget at his school was going to be cut.  With not much experience, not much money and not much equipment, the students at his school made a movie - and they made sure EVERYONE knew the were making it, had made it, were showing it.  He made sure his kids were famous so the Arts did not get cut at his school.
Kevin and his students did all this with just in time learning, a budget that was tight and led him to find cheap alternatives - but quality doesn't have to be perfect for the first time - as you learn, things get better.  He recommended making films about a variety of topics.
Thank 'em, don't spank 'em.  

When you are excited about the learning your remember it all. 

Good, passionate teachers write on student's brains.  As teachers, we are writing on the brains of our students, so we need to make sure that we are writing the right stuff.
Kevin recommended this website about brain based learning:  http://www.funderstanding.com/educators/brain-based-learning/
  • Teachers must immerse learners in complex, interactive experiences that are both rich and real. One excellent example is immersing students in a foreign culture to teach them a second language. Educators must take advantage of the brain’s ability to parallel process.

  • Students must have a personally meaningful challenge. Such challenges stimulate a student’s mind to the desired state of alertness.

  • In order for a student to gain insight about a problem, there must be intensive analysis of the different ways to approach it, and about learning in general. This is what’s known as the “active processing of experience.”
    And so Kevin went on to explain one of his favourite examples of learning that works to write on students' brains.  It is called:  Doomsday-1 Misson to Save Earth and this is the website link:  http://plpnetwork.com/D-1/D-1_Step_by_step.html
    The Challenge:
    Form a team and design a plan to save the world from an imminent collision with the Doomsday1 Asteroid and prepare a video presentation for the UN highlighting the merits of your plan.
    The Problem:
    We are in trouble!  A lone astronomer spotted an "Earth killer" asteroid that has come to be called "Doomsday-1" will strike Earth in the southern hemisphere in one year!
    The Plan:
    Become an expert about asteroids.  Figure out a way to save the Earth.

    The students need to become researchers to complete this challenge.  Kevin was adament that we need to make the kids find the source.  He said Google is a search engine, not a source; Wikipedia is a source, but the students must dig deeper - where did they get their information from?

    Children today are digital natives.  But they come to school and often have to power down.  Don't touch my lid!!  Kids are saying that they hate coming to school because they have to power down.  They are telling us, "Don't amputate my digital limbs by making me put the lid down."

    Kevin pointed out that some of our students that have been precluded from regular society are our best inventors - think about Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.... what was their school experience like?

    In the US they are cutting the Arts programmes to save money, but these programmes are the best outlet for creativity.  Kevin said it is what the kids do with the knowledge - not how they get it!

    We need to "fake it till we make it".  There are apps that can fill the gaps in your brain - it is not cheating - I'm just bbetter at other stuff.  Skype across the hall before you skype across the country - take the new things in baby steps.

    Kevin asked some big questions:
    • Our kids will spend the rest of their lives in the future.  Are we getting them ready?
    • Why would we do what you say if you don't care about my family?
    The second question Kevin said not only applied to how students see their teachers, but also to how teachers see their senior staff.  Kevin believes that family is integral to being a good teacher and learner.

    As I wrote earlier, I follow Kevin on Twitter.  He can be quite the prolific tweeter!  And he so believes in the power of Twitter.  Once he was flying to a city in the US and his bags were flying to some other city.  He was going to have no clothes and toiletries.  He tweeted this, and the next thing one of his followers in the city he was arriving at tweeted him asking him what size he was.  When his plane arrived she was waiting for him with several changes of clothes.

    With Twitter you have a community that has your back.  I had this recently demonstrated to me when our new Novapay payslips arrived requiring a password to open it.  I had no idea.  But a question on Twitter, and it was not long before I had an answer.

    Kevin showed us this photo of a Twitter wall.  There is a child's face with a blank space and a Twitter handle.  It is velcroed to the wall and as the children arrived each day they used a whiteboard marker to update their status.  It was a good way to find out what was happening in each child's life that morning.

    But we need to teach our kids to have that "my keys are locked in the car" moment before they hit the post button.

    What does that mean?  You know that time you locked your keys in your car and how that felt?  And how you still have that feeling of possibly locking them in the car even now, so you are extra careful?  Well we need our young people to have that feeling before they hit the post button on email and Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.

    With two minutes to go the guitar finally makes its entrance.  Smoke on the Water.  TweetwoodMac tweeted that they wanted to jam.
    OK, so who knows why this photo imported this way
    round and why can't it be rotated in blogger?  Ta.

    And then Kevin showed out the second guitar - an iPad guitar.  Insert iPad and it lights up and plays like a real guitar!!

    Later that evening, Kevin and conference attendees were jamming outside the exhibiters' hall.  Most entertaining.

    Apparently you can buy one of these iPad guitars for $99 US.  Hmmm, now I need an iPad.....

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