21st Century Learning #68: Christian Long from Think Lab

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Christian Long21st Century Learning #68
Christian Long from Think Lab
on Teaching and School Design
March 19, 2007



An exciting conversation with Christian Long about his recent move from a school design architecture firm back to the English classroom. We discussed his teaching, design of schools, and what the great examples of inovative schools.

What are your thoughts on school design?

Christian mentioned a number of author's towards the end of the interview. Here are links to their books/writing:

Parker Palmer
Ted Sizer
John Dewey
Elliot Washer from The Big Picture Company


Click here for the chat transcript

2008-03-19 11:58:04 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Hi Alex. Is the stream up?
2008-03-19 11:58:46 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: never mind. I got it.
2008-03-19 12:05:46 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Actually, I'm eating a turkey sandwich.
2008-03-19 12:06:13 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Hi Christian.
2008-03-19 12:06:17 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: Hey, Bill. Just coffee here. Heading out for classic Texas BBQ in an hour.
2008-03-19 12:06:51 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Texas BBQ is great. Where are you going, if you don't mind me asking.
2008-03-19 12:07:16 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: Bill -- Heading to the Smoke Pit here in Ft. Worth. A great lunch dive for those 'in the know'.
2008-03-19 12:07:34 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: One of my fellow daddy bloggers and school design buddies is meeting me there.
2008-03-19 12:07:53 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: I jealous. Need to find a good BBQ place around here (without going to NYC).
2008-03-19 12:09:15 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: hi all
2008-03-19 12:09:16 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: Wow, familiar names popping in. Hey!
2008-03-19 12:09:31 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Hi Chris and all
2008-03-19 12:09:35 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: Hey Christian
2008-03-19 12:09:44 [Message] alex.ragone -> -EdTechTalk: Hi Everyone -- Thanks for coming out.
2008-03-19 12:10:24 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: And you missed your chance to go to TED on their nickel too, lol
2008-03-19 12:11:57 [Message] thekyleguy -> -EdTechTalk: Hey folks.
2008-03-19 12:12:02 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: hey kyle
2008-03-19 12:12:23 [Message] lori a -> -EdTechTalk: hi all
2008-03-19 12:12:34 [Message] thekyleguy -> -EdTechTalk: Thanks for the link Alec.
2008-03-19 12:13:10 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Reminds me fo teh work my dh is doing on walkability, and there are two schools of thought, it's an engineering problem, OR it's a behavior issue?
2008-03-19 12:13:29 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: And it's both
2008-03-19 12:17:00 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: No wiki for wiki's sake?
2008-03-19 12:17:40 [Message] thekyleguy -> -EdTechTalk: this is great insight for me as a new teacher
2008-03-19 12:17:54 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: isn't that everyone's aim, Christian?
2008-03-19 12:18:43 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: But has your pedagodigical focus changeed? i.e. student-centered vs teacher-centered (regardless of technology tools)
2008-03-19 12:18:59 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: I have an interesting "conflict" at work. Trying to suggest tech for other classrooms (I'm in lab). Half want projectors, etc. but others don't. I think they don't know what's possible, so I'd like to show them so it's a more informed decision.
2008-03-19 12:19:42 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: @Bill i believe it has always been student centered
2008-03-19 12:19:47 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: Bill Yes, pedagogy has changed in terms of potential, but I've found myself more conservative than I thought.
2008-03-19 12:20:00 [Message] thekyleguy -> -EdTechTalk: why don't you want to be a change agent?
2008-03-19 12:20:06 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: chuckle
2008-03-19 12:20:35 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: :)
2008-03-19 12:20:54 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: interesting justaposition
2008-03-19 12:21:01 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: interesting spelling mistake too
2008-03-19 12:21:03 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: conservative how?
2008-03-19 12:21:33 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: yes, conservative how?
2008-03-19 12:21:48 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: i said that - grr
2008-03-19 12:22:03 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: ddon't mind me - i'm sick
2008-03-19 12:22:25 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: thekyleguy: not why I was hired at my school.
2008-03-19 12:22:26 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Yeah, or is it like Ben Stein doing the science lecture?
2008-03-19 12:22:29 [Message] thekyleguy -> -EdTechTalk: agile presenters, I like that
2008-03-19 12:22:40 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: I don't think effective technology use is about technology any longer.
2008-03-19 12:22:47 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: I like the idea of "does it matter", because if it doesn't, it's just noise
2008-03-19 12:23:08 [Message] courosa -> -EdTechTalk: although, whether it matters or not is a very relative, often subjective choice
2008-03-19 12:23:16 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Ah, the elevator speech, lol
2008-03-19 12:23:45 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: which is why we teach oration to learners
2008-03-19 12:23:49 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: At the end of the day we need to teach our students to be publishers and editors online. Junk on paper is junk online just with a wow factor
2008-03-19 12:24:03 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Well, a lot of people SKIP teaching oral language...
2008-03-19 12:24:22 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: STORYTELLERS not just oral language
2008-03-19 12:25:03 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: Yes, ideisley: it is ALL about storytelling!
2008-03-19 12:25:04 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Ldeisley: I teach a population that desperately need the language development (50%+ Language Learners)
2008-03-19 12:25:05 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: do those stories have less depth than hitherto?
2008-03-19 12:25:18 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: Back to the ancients (campfires) thru YouTube.
2008-03-19 12:25:20 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: take a look at Donald Davis's Writing As A Second Language. Teaches writing but starts with oral storytelling
2008-03-19 12:25:40 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Storytelling is a great way to do that, but the bottom line is they have to develop their language and vocabulary
2008-03-19 12:25:42 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: it's all about the story
2008-03-19 12:26:04 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: No Durff, they need to develop a language or they won't be able to tell a story.
2008-03-19 12:26:23 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: need mmore soup....and i agree alice
2008-03-19 12:26:45 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Yeah, I imagine you more than all of us may understand that.
2008-03-19 12:26:47 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: @alicemercer Agreed, but the question is how to develop the language--it isn't just storytelling I agree
2008-03-19 12:27:17 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: To get engagement, each child needs to know they have a story to tell
2008-03-19 12:27:22 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Give them words, visuals, etc. then LET them put it together. Give them sentence frames, but then let them tell tehri story.
2008-03-19 12:27:34 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Yep, you are right.
2008-03-19 12:28:34 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: I'm conservative in some of my instructional methods. I think you have to teach some things explicitly, and whole class or group, BUT at some point they have to do it indepedently, and you can't go from lecture to test sheet?
2008-03-19 12:29:02 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: so telling the story is the motivation for them to learn the vocab
2008-03-19 12:29:09 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: They've got to own their learning. I've never said there is not room for lecture
2008-03-19 12:29:10 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: How about teh parking lot (big deal here in Sacto where it's hot)
2008-03-19 12:29:41 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Ldeisley, but don't you think Chris is right, that it's not about no lecture, but how engaging and relevant it is?
2008-03-19 12:29:42 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Not to devalue the expertise of architects, but from my experience in a few new school buildings, more architects need to experience how these space are used. Form seems to win over function without that.
2008-03-19 12:29:54 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: @durff YES. And, to Christian's points here, the students need to be a part of the environment, they need to feel they are part of the story unfolding around them
2008-03-19 12:30:10 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: I haven't been in anything younger than 1960s for teaching...
2008-03-19 12:30:21 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Seriously...
2008-03-19 12:30:54 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Public libraries, and community colleges are now in new high schools.
2008-03-19 12:31:06 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: so they use high school for community college after hours,
2008-03-19 12:31:23 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Everything I teach in is old, except portables, lol
2008-03-19 12:31:52 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Hey, I'm a former library advocate...
2008-03-19 12:32:04 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Maybe an afterschool program is what's needed
2008-03-19 12:32:25 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: THAT is what happens at my local library
2008-03-19 12:32:54 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: But there are noise issues. They now blast classical at the foyer to keep teenagers from congregating.
2008-03-19 12:33:07 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: But the library is very full whenever I go there.
2008-03-19 12:33:37 [Message] VinnieVrotny -> -EdTechTalk: sorry i am late, but who is the guest?
2008-03-19 12:33:40 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: My local (subrban NJ also) library has the same issues. Our relatively new library director has started looking at places for people to have more small group meetings.
2008-03-19 12:34:14 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: vinnie - it's christian long
2008-03-19 12:34:16 [Message] alex.ragone -> -EdTechTalk: Christian Long from Think lab.
2008-03-19 12:34:44 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Christian's blog is at http://thinklab.typepad.com/ (I believe)
2008-03-19 12:34:50 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Dh is home working on a report about school building today, lol
2008-03-19 12:35:05 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: How they choose where to build, walkability, etc.
2008-03-19 12:35:06 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: Strategic alliances/strategic partnerships are the new black
2008-03-19 12:35:16 [Message] alex.ragone -> -EdTechTalk: School becomes community.
2008-03-19 12:35:38 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: & vice versa
2008-03-19 12:35:38 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: And how they don't do this well. Build a new school in the middle of nowhere cause the land is cheap, but you have to bus kids in.
2008-03-19 12:35:59 [Message] VinnieVrotny -> -EdTechTalk: thanks all. That's who I thought, but wanted to make sure
2008-03-19 12:36:08 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Sounds like the public school becomes more like a college campus.
2008-03-19 12:36:48 [Message] thekyleguy -> -EdTechTalk: go local
2008-03-19 12:37:06 [Message] alex.ragone -> -EdTechTalk: http://codmanacademy.org/main/index.php
2008-03-19 12:37:23 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Christian, were most of your clients private or public?
2008-03-19 12:38:28 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: @Christian You are right--it is about the relationships--not the technology
2008-03-19 12:38:47 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: Applause
2008-03-19 12:39:18 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: IMHO, public schools are not being built for humans, they are being built to herd kids around (cattle), and for bus schedules, and bean counter
2008-03-19 12:39:21 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: re: relationships, yes!
2008-03-19 12:39:33 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: People forget humans will be there
2008-03-19 12:39:41 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: always a 'human' issue, not an architecture or tech issue.
2008-03-19 12:39:45 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: it has always been about relationship
2008-03-19 12:39:54 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Yeah, well I wish the design had that in mind.
2008-03-19 12:39:58 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: nice...
2008-03-19 12:39:59 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: thanks
2008-03-19 12:40:00 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: alice: both, but mostly public schools
2008-03-19 12:40:02 [Message] ldeisley -> -EdTechTalk: Thanks
2008-03-19 12:40:05 [Message] thekyleguy -> -EdTechTalk: Thanks Christian
2008-03-19 12:40:07 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: thanks to all!
2008-03-19 12:40:20 [Message] Bill Campbell -> -EdTechTalk: Thanks. Christian and Alex.
2008-03-19 12:40:21 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Christian, I wish there was better design in what I've seen
2008-03-19 12:40:29 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: that was a great lunchtime repast
2008-03-19 12:40:32 [Message] VinnieVrotny -> -EdTechTalk: thanks in advance for sharing the book resources. I look forward to reading them.
2008-03-19 12:40:37 [Message] Christian Long -> -EdTechTalk: go to www.designshare.com for great school design examples
2008-03-19 12:40:43 [Message] VinnieVrotny -> -EdTechTalk: Thanks for a great program
2008-03-19 12:41:29 [Message] Durff -> -EdTechTalk: bye all
2008-03-19 12:41:35 [Message] alicemercer -> -EdTechTalk: Better late than never Jose
2008-03-19 12:41:45 [Message] JoseRodriguez -> -EdTechTalk: yep I guess
2008-03-19 12:41:53 [Message] alex.ragone -> -EdTechTalk: Thanks.
2008-03-19 12:41:53 [Message] JoseRodriguez -> -EdTechTalk: I just got tweet
2008-03-19 12:41:56 [Message] JoseRodriguez -> -EdTechTalk: sure
2008-03-19 12:41:58 [Message] JoseRodriguez -> -EdTechTalk: bye