Sunday, May 20, 2007

Made to Stick

It's been a long time since I posted to this blog but I haven't abandoned it - just needed some time to work through some projects in my job and absorb some reading I've been doing. Some bloggers write in their blogs as they read. When I read a book, I still work through it the old-fashioned way. I spend time with it underlining the ideas that click with me and noting any connections that occur to me. I also keep a notebook close by where I write down longer thoughts or connections to return to at a later time.

My latest book just finished this weekend was, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. For those of us who do professional development or are teacher leaders, this is one book to have on your shelf.

So many ideas are constantly floating around in my head. They coming spilling out quickly when I come across a situation where the ideas might be applied. The problem is that my background knowledge is much different than my colleagues. As a result of reading the book, I'm trying to develop a very simple core message that will filter through all of my work. For many years, I've filtered a lot of decisions about technology uses in the classroom by asking two questions: "So what?" and "Then what?" Both really center on improving student learning. The "so what?" question means this - if we want to improve student learning what difference will this use of technology make in the learning? This is the question that really makes us justify what we're doing both for present learning situations and future needs. The "then what?" question is all about how students are going to use the technology to make a difference. Many times we might send students to a computer to make a web of their ideas or search for a website - but then what? A web of ideas made in Kidspiration or Inspiration could be the start of a unit of study. A class created web placed into a shared folder can be a resource for students to return to often. As they learn new material they can return to the web to confirm or revise the web or to re-organize the ideas. Personal start pages such as Pageflakes or Protopage provide tools for organizing learning and offer tools for outlining a unit of study which can be checked by students as they progress through the learning.

I supposed these two questions are still simple enough to remain my core message as I work with teachers. As a matter of fact, I first began to use these two questions during training with teacher and still have some of them repeat that back to me whenever we discuss new uses of technology. So I guess it was "sticky" enough after all!


Kim Cofino said...

I haven't read the book (just added it to my shopping cart at Amazon) but I have the same approach as you. I'm always thinking in practicalities. I know it can irritate others with "big ideas," but I need to know why and how before I can even start thinking about what I will do.

Looking forward to the read :)

Wesley Fryer said...

Diane: I'm interested in what new points Chip and Dan related in "Made to Stick" that are are running through your head now... Did those points serve to just reinforce previous ideas you had that caused you to ask "so what" and "now what" questions, or were there new ideas that you hadn't considered before or considered in the way they were presented by the author? I added this book to my Amazon wish list as well, but I'm curious to know more about the author's ideas. Thanks for sharing about this.