|This is the school. Srsly.|
One of the questions posed during Nova Now 15, a state conference focusing on discussions among teachers, was 'should conferences end with a reflection session instead of a keynote?' Any opportunity to encourage teacher writing.
So now I feel obligated.
As with Twitter Math Camp and EdCamp, this is a conference organized on the principle of creating teacher conversation and collaboration. It's hosted at Kent Innovation High, where, frankly, I wish I could send my kids. It's a tech friendly, open design, project based learning school. Kids attend in the morning for core classes (science, math, ELA, social studies) then return to their home schools all over the ISD for the rest of their schedule. The conference starts off with a tour and chance to see the learning happen, and then several students take the option to stay and be part of the conference, even coming back on Saturday. The single most frequently heard comment for me was about the eloquence, maturity and phenomenal perspective of these students. My favorite #KIHway quote from Peyton: "Students have to shift from doing this to make people happy to 'I'm learning how to be creative and productive'."
Even before the conference started, I had a great talk with Laura Chambless. She's the K-7 math/science support for St. Clair region schools. She's got her resources organized in a protopage. (Free start pages that can also do RSS feeds.) She's a big believer in fact fluency and has been trying to find ways for teachers to get at that constructively.
#michED is our statewide Twitter chat. Wednesday evenings, 8pm ET. The first big session was a meet between the east side and westside collaborative groups, Innovation Now and the Bluewater Group, moderated by Rushton Hurley. He did a good job of guiding a discussion, and using that to also make his points. Some big ideas raised:
- Isolation is the cancer of the teaching profession.
- Good ed leader question: how many times have you deviated from your plans? Because that's a measure of how many cool moments you've facilitated.
- We are not good at sharing successes. Why are you a good teacher? "I care about kids." Who doesn't? Share specific successes as individual teachers and as a school. Share them with voters!
- Gamestorming, co-creation tools.
'Math: are we doing it wrong?' was led by Rick Jackson, who kept good notes on resources - http://bit.ly/1zWbae1. Dan Meyer came up, PBL in math with the KIH teachers, SBAR, flipped classroom ... all the good stuff. Infuse Learning was recommended for BYOD formative assessment. Teachers were surprisingly reluctant to discuss, surprisingly given the context, but there were two KIH students who killed it in the conversation.
- "We have to still follow state standards, which have nothing to do with learning or critical thinking."
- "The pioneering spirit is a big part of KIH, shared between teachers and students."
- "Students have to shift from doing this to make people happy to 'I'm learning how to be creative and productive'."
Jeff Bush (@bushjms) and Rebecca Wildman (@RebeccaWildman) had a session on student centered classrooms. (Their ) One of the hallmarks of a meeting like this is that being discussion driven, the sessions may not go according to plan. Two of their tasks for us took over the discussion. Find a video that represents you as a teacher. The most fun:
- Rebecca thinks about digital natives.
- Jeff thinks teaching is like... this.
- Tara Maynard feels like this some days.
The last session I attended was Jennifer Bond's creative play. (@teambond; her Google site.) What I learned is she has the best toys. The littleBits are very curious. Another good resource is the Imagination Foundation. Best quote: "if you give them open-ended time, you'll have their attention week after week. They don't have time to play." Sad to think about students not having time for real play. Jennifer ran a creative play club for which students applied. Every single form I saw, these elementary students considered themselves creative. By the time we get them in college, few people claim that. What are we doing so wrongly?
My session was on Talking Points. I'll write about that separately! I had an awesome group of teachers to share them with and discuss them in other disciplines.
Some other neat bits from the conference: