Walking the Walk


Creating Passionate Users

Before I realized I would be teaching full time this year, I agreed to help organize the VA-International Powerful Learning Practice cohort and to present at the Virginia Association of Independent Schools annual conference next month. The first complicates my schedule but enriches my professional life in valuable ways. The second has been like an annoying mosquito buzzing around my head as I haven't had any free moments to think about it.

Well, it's time to slap that bug and get organized.

But knowing that people who attend the conference have high expectations for what my colleague Jennifer and I might say about "using online collaborative tools in the classroom," I want to deliver. There's nothing worse than attending a worthless session.

Applying what I am learning from my colleagues in the PLP, my network, and from much reading, I want this session to not only engage, enrich, and possibly inspire, but also to reflect what I wish I could do in the classroom on a day to day basis. So far, I haven't been able to make that happen for a myriad of reasons (including that BIG wall pictured above), but it's not too much to ask of myself, is it?

When things do click in my ninth-grade English classroom, it's often because of ideas I've borrowed from Kathy Sierra's "Crash course in learning theory."

She says:

This is not a comprehensive look at the state of learning theory
today, but it does include almost everything we think about in creating
our books. And although it's geared toward blogs/writing, virtually
everything in here applies regardless of how you deliver the
learning–you can easily adapt it to presentations, user documentation,
or classroom learning.

Here's a brief list of some of her points:

  • Learning is co-creation
  • Use visuals, engage senses, repeat-repeat-repeat
  • Maintain interest with variety and surprise
  • Show don't tell
  • Show failures
  • Use chunking
  • Use suspense to build curiosity
  • Context matters
  • Use Emotions, Fun, Stories, Pacing

Remember, it's never about you. It's about how the learner feels about himself as a result of the learning experience…she says.

And that applies to teachers who come to my session as well as my own students.

What would you want to take away from my session? What's the best session you've ever attended? Why?