First Day Impressions of ISTE

I’m stuck in the hotel sick with vertigo, waiting for the doctor to call, and reading all the tweets about how wonderful the conference is – darn, darn, darn!  As long as I can keep my head still, I can still follow along online.  But here are a few things I got out of yesterday’s wonderfulness …

I’ve really enjoyed watching people who are members of a PLN, Second Lifers, etc. meet each other in person for the first time.  It is really amazing to see and hear about the influences they have had on each other while having never actually “met.”

Went to the Virtual Environments Lounge to listen to Bronwyn Stuckey and Peggy Sheehy talk about their work with VE.  Stuckey showed me Quest Atlantis, which looks amazing and I am off in search of a co-conspirator to train with.

I always enjoy listening to Peggy Sheehy.  Here’s a gem from yesterday, paraphrased:

“We have to get used to the fact that the students are going to raise the bar – they will create the rigor.”

The other thing she made me think about was about the relationship between motivation and research.  The students who engage in her Second Life role-plays do research because they are in a situation where to get where they want to go, they need the information, and so they will be motivated to go find it, rather than a teacher trying to convince them that they need it, or that they should want it, etc.  In most of our schools, we try to make that place where students want to go grades.  But what does a grade do, really for motivation?

There is the “carrot” aspect, which makes you feel good because you got a good grade, and maybe you get positive reinforcement from teachers and parents (although in middle school, not necessarily from peers), or maybe you start to associate your self-worth with the grade attached, not a very healthy thing, in the long run.

Then there’s the “stick” aspect – negative feedback from parents, teachers for a bad grade, more resultant association with a letter grade (also not very healthy), and in some cases in middle school (though not a lot, from my experience) positive reinforcement from peers for being “too cool for school.”

So, put in this light, grades don’t seem very good on either end.  So, why not create a situation where the students are desperate for good information because it brings them pleasure ultimately?


About Paula Montrie

I am a Middle School Librarian at Friends School of Baltimore. I have been a librarian for 11 years, serving 6 years with the Howard County Public School System before arriving at my current school. I teach two classes: SpeechCraft (a combination of information literacy, public speaking and theater), and Media Literacy at the middle school level. I also collaboratively co-teach with a number of teachers at the school, including Music, Geography, and U.S. History. I love it! My professional interests are: information literacy, multiple intelligences and learning styles, teaching through movement, curriculum-writing, technology integration, and bridging the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants. My personal interests are: dancing, singing, knitting, sewing, art, living history, writing and of course - reading!
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