Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I like lists.

They are clean and clear. They give us a plan of action. They are organized. To me, they make sense. I often say that I live my life in outline form. I constantly make "to do" lists, prioritize my day and actions, develop short and long range goals for my day, for my rehearsals, for my classes. Maybe it is a blessing. Maybe it is a curse. I am not sure. Regardless, lists seem to make the world a bit more clear for me.

If you have been reading my blog for any time, you will note that one of my first entries was with regard to a list of suggestions for becoming a "positive deviant" from the book, Better, A Surgeon's Notes on Performance. More recently, I posted a list of the eight norms of the Net Generation from Grown Up Digital. I even posted a list of things for my students to consider when auditioning for an honors orchestra event.

I was traveling over the past weekend and had a chance to finish up reading Grown up Digital and was struck by another list that I would like to share with you. This list, by Don Tapscott is called "The School 2.0 - Seven Tips for Educators. I will give you the list and briefly remark on each of his points. They are strategies that are designed to help teachers to improve their work in this new digital age.

The List:
Don't throw technology into the classroom and hope for good things. How many times have se see this? Thousand of dollars are spent on technology and we give it a try in the traditional classroom, only to be frustrated and compelled to go back to the old way of doing things. We have to be willing to change the pedagogy. I am seeing this in my Audio Recording and Digital Music Production courses this year. We have so many new sources of information and unlimited opportunities for discovery based learning at NCSSM. I need to force myself out of the old mold of teacher-lecturer and into a new era of student-focused, customized environment. It is for that reason exactly that I am moving these courses into a direction of discovery based learning. Class will be more like a lab next year. kids can get the information from textbooks, Youtube, my online content, Powerpoints, etc. They will even take exams online. The real meat of the class will be the discovery that occurs during class time. I am still working out the details, but am excited for the potential results.

Cut back on lecturing
Simple enough. Let's discuss stuff. Let's DO stuff. I plan to set up class in more of a round-table fashion. As stated earlier, class needs to look more like a lab. I have always started my courses with the statement, "I don't have all of the answers." Now, I am going to put my money where my mouth is.

Empower the students to collaborate

Again, class needs to look like lab. Students can work together and bring their individual experiences and talents to the table. It is not that hard to do.

Focus on lifelong learning and not teaching to the test
I think that this has been a strength of mine over the years. I am an inquisitive guy and like to know how things work. I encourage my students to do the same. As a music teacher at the NC School of Science and Math, I know that most of my students aren't looking to become music majors. They want their lives to be enriched. I'll bet your students do, too!

Use technology to get to know your students
Kids are themselves online. It is their environment. By devoloping online opportunities for collaboration, such as Wikis, Ning sites, and other collaborative online opportunities, kids will feel like you are you are part of their world.

Design educational programs according to the Eight Norms
See my previous post on the Eight Norms

Reinvent yourself as a teacher, professor, or educator.

I am in the midst of this process right now. It is an exciting time in education and I look forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead. This afternoon, I will be filming some music theory lessons for my guitar and Piano courses. They will be online and available 24 hours a day. Yes, I am reinventing myself even today!

I hope that this was enlightening in some way for you. I love my lists!! This one, like many others, sheds some light on the task at hand for all educators today. One step at a time. We will all get there and find new and meaningful ways to connect with and inspire the students of the Net Generation.


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