So I got a chance to spend half a day with Chris Lehmann and his full staff at the Franklin Institute in Philly yesterday talking about how the Read/Write Web might work at their new school, the Science Leadership Academy which opens in about six weeks. It was the last day of an 8-day intensive planning session, and they were probably more tuned into the “closing ceremonies” to be held at a neighborhood restaurant in the afternoon than on listening to me, but I was extremely impressed by their attention, their questions and their thinking. And their thinking was all over the place…on a Moodle site where they have been capturing all of their work, on newsprint post-its all over the walls of the planning room, in their conversation. I sat there just envious as all get out that Chris had this opportunity to really build “School 2.0,” and I said as much to all of them.
I know I for one will be watching SLA with a great deal of interest, because it is already one of the first schools to be pretty transparent in the planning process and it will be pretty transparent in the product. At one point in our conversation as his teachers were working on their personal technology plans, Chris said something to the effect that his process had been informed by people all over the world, and that by being transparent about it on his blog, it had been a richer, more effective experience. (Chris, if you read this, maybe you could embellish that thought with a comment…but not from the beach!) And I thought it was interesting that one of the interview questions his teachers were asked was “How do you feel about teaching in a fishbowl?” Partially, that comes from SLA sharing the stage with the Microsoft-funded “School of the Future” which is also opening this fall in Philadelphia. But it also stems from the fact that part of the philosophy is to share widely and to be open about the process. Pretty cool.
So I won’t go as far as to say that this is the first big test of a Read/Write Web school. It’s not. But it’s a big step on that road. It’s a new model that we might all watch. It has an amazingly creative and forward thinking school leader at the helm, an eclectic and passionate group of teachers, and a very democratic vision that makes it unique in my experience. I am very, very excited to see what happens.