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Blind Visualization #BeyondTextbooks

My thoughts after the Discovery Education Beyond the Textbook Forum…

Why does a company, that has two other subject-area techbooks in place, bring a group of people together to prototype something vastly different?

geniusThe race to be innovative is one that starts from an unknown space because it has to be that way to be truly innovative. At any given time, we could have been given access to the science or social studies techbooks but we weren’t. We could have analyzed the “bone structure” of the techbook design that already existed but we didn’t. Instead, we went with the “blind leading the blind” method and ideated with sticky notes, markers and tablet paper. As a member of the DEN, I do have access to the science techbook but out of respect to this process, I purposefully stayed away from that idea. What was forming before my eyes with the thoughts of every stakeholder in the room was amazing to see.

Were there questions about the “meat” of the techbook…YES! I was one of them. However, after speaking with Discovery’s STEM director, I was less worried. In fact, most of the representatives of Discovery Education had some sort of educational background and that was promising. Then again, that is not why we were there yet it was good to know that the actual math of the techbook would be in good hands.

The general consensus of everyone was that we wanted something that felt more like a classroom and less like an actual book or any current version of a digital book. The learner was at the forefront of all conversations, with that being defined as both students and teachers. How do we get this “super hero sized” version of change implemented into classrooms where most of its teachers still think overhead projectors equate to technology? This is a thought that must be considered as we progress.

I spent time yesterday reviewing the science techbook and comparing our notes from our planning sessions. I was pleased to see that many of our “must haves” were already a part of the science book. However, our vision took what was there and asked for even more…like adaptability, customization and social learning structures. I would give specifics but for some reason that just seems wrong to place those ideas in black and white right now. I will say that if Discovery can do what we envisioned, even pieces of it, along with what they are already doing…the math techbooks will be astronomically outstanding.

Other Tidbits…

We talked a bit about utilizing class badges in some way shape or form. There were mixed feelings  about badges and rightfully so. As my son so eloquently put it, “why would I want that?”. My hope is that we see this implemented in some form for teachers who are topical experts. In other words, as I am planning a lesson I can see a list of who is online depending on the unit. Then again, who decides who the real topical experts are? More questions…

Wonder seemed to be on everyone’s must-have list. We want kids to wonder and explore in math. I loved this idea. In addition, I want kids to have the ability to explore further, create and communicate as they wish. What I am afraid of is this becoming a mandate for some teachers. You can’t mandate wonder. It happens because a child wants to know….WONDER should be organic.

I left 1DP, no longer questioning my place in that room. I left thankful for the experience because I found that I did have quite a bit to offer and collaborating with such an esteemed “dream team” was a phenomenal experience in and of itself.

I want to go back.

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