Innovating Education – One Lego Brick at a Time

By Robert EM Craven, CUE Board President

I’ll admit- I like Legos…Fortunately, with two young children, I can get away with saying that. The endless possibilities of connecting, building, breaking down, and rebuilding everything we imagine fascinates me. That moment Miguel or Andrea smiles when the final brick goes into place finishing the creation we’ve been discussing, thinking about, and constructing is immensely satisfying.

Flipping the small gray blocks in my hand as we worked on the Millennium Falcon recently, I couldn’t help but see the interconnectedness of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with technology. Much as our Legos are designed into a vast array of spaceships, cars, or buildings, the CCSS are enabling educators to reenvision instruction through differentiating learning.

Since adoption of the CCSS, educators, leaders, vendors, politicians, and nearly everyone else entered into wide-ranging discussions on what CCSS really means, what instruction will look like, how we differentiate learning for all students, what college and career readiness really is, where technology fits in, and is this really different? For every question, for every conversation, and from every perspective, I believe those CCSS Lego pieces were being assembled and disassembled constantly.

Throughout the Spring, from conferences to classrooms, conversations, presentations, and panels, all began to construct a similar thread around CCSS and learning. No longer were educators discussing fitting technology into the classroom; no longer were educational technologists discussing the importance of technology to curriculum or student achievement. Instead, educational technology was an implicit part of the solution.

This enormous shift provides us with an exceptional opportunity. As Superintendents, principals, and the teacher down the hall each realizes that technology will be key to implementing CCSS, we must engage in the design process, illuminating the different configurations of technology infusion leading to quality instruction, thus pushing the boundaries of current practice. To differentiate instruction, the educational Lego blocks of the flipped classroom, cloud computing, online learning, digital media, mobile devices—as well as creativity, collaboration, and communication—are de-facto topics.

Certainly, many classrooms already integrate technology throughout instruction, providing for others a glimpse of the CCSS classroom. Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams began leading the way some five years ago when they flipped their classrooms. Vicki Davis, aka Cool Cat Teacher, is charging forward with integrating cloud computing into the Common Core. Both Jon and Vicki will have ideas for enabling your district to synthesize ideas around CCSS when they provide the opening and closing keynotes at the Fall CUE conference, October 26-27 in the Napa Valley at American Canyon High School.

CUE is clearly leading the way to educate, innovate, and explore in putting your educational Lego pieces together. While each of us will envision projects slightly differently to engage the unique needs of our learners in reaching the Common Core Standards, technology will be integrated throughout, holding the structure together rather than acting as a stand-alone piece.

Now, to finish that Lego Falcon and see if this one can make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs…

CUE Guest Blogger: Robert EM Craven is an educator with a technology obsession. Robert is the Director for Technology and Media Services in the Fullerton School District, an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Teacher, and was recognized as one of the five “Best of ISTE” presenters in 2007, 2009, and 2010.

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