personal learning network

Think, Create, Innovate – A Project Zero Adventure

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Project Zero Perspectives conference hosted in Atlanta by Atlanta International School and the High Museum of Art. It was one of the best organized conferences I have attended from a pedagogical perspective as there were 4 themes (educating for global competency, encouraging creativity and maker thinking, growing up in the digital age, making learning and thinking visible)  than ran throughout the entire weekend. The various keynotes and sessions built on these themes and really allowed the participants to see the big ideas emerging as the weekend went on. The overarching inspiration for the conference was the following quote:

Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. – Theodore Levitt

I could not possibly share everything that I was able to take away from this conference, but here are a few of the highlights.

Day 1

Shari Tishman – Keynote
Big Idea: By looking slowly at things we can understand the ways in which things are complex – complexity is a powerful performance of understanding
– understanding is something that you do rather than something that you have
– slow looking – taking the time to notice more than what meets the eye at first glance, it is a purposeful action that is done intentionally to look beyond what comes naturally
– many of the ‘Visible Thinking’ strategies have been designed to include a slow looking phase
– 3 types of complexity
1. complexity of parts and interactions
2. complexity of perspective
3. complexity of engagement

Designing for Disaster (@BuildingMuseum) – Interactive Workshop
– Resilience is a systematic approach
– The built environment is not arbitrary. It is the result of human decisions making.
– How should be build? Where should we built?
– What does a city need to function? What should a city offer its residents?
– What infrastructure or buildings are needed for each of these services?
– How do we organize all of it?
– Who should help decide where to build?

Fostering Global Competency (Clarkston Community Schools) – Interactive Workshops
– Children grow into the intellectual life around them. – Vygotsky – cannot create a culture of thinking for kids if the adults don’t have a culture of thinking as well – need to model thinking
– importance of the whole person – need to be well rounded to function in a global world
– culture is shared – we all have to be part of creating a culture of thinking
– building culture of knowledge  in community through sharing of authentic information from members in your community

Keynote – Daniel Wilson – Director of Project Zero
– What does it mean to learn for a global competency?
– How can we encourage creativity and maker thinking?
– What are the civic, moral, and ethical opportunities and challenges in growing up in a digital age?
– How can we make learning and think visible? – learning is constructed through the making of artifacts and actions – performance based – highly reflective journey that is done socially not heirarchial, learning from one to another
– learning is not done in one mode
– learning is complex
– learning as a verb, an emerging action
– we cannot ‘control’ learning; the best we can do as designers of learning for others is to create places where this complex actions can emerge

Day 2

David Perkins – Keynote
Theme: Wondering to Learn: Education with Questions for Tomorrow’s World
– develop a culture of questions in contrast to a culture of answers
– What is worth learning now?
– we need to teach students to LIVE WITH questions, they are not done at the end of the day or the end of a unit
– questions need to be part of the content not the drivers of content
– to speak of a culture of questions does not mean that we don’t care about the answers
– if you imagine a culture of questions, you spend your time on looking for good answers – abundant answers but often not final answers

Qualities of Effective Learning Communities – Daniel Wilson
– How to YOU (as an individual) CREATE a learning community? – interesting to think about your own personal contribution to fostering a learning community
– tell your story – “Here’s something that happened …” – invite someone in to you classroom to observe/participate in a lesson
– having a provocative perspective – “I strongly believe…” – Teachers need to be model learners and need to be provided the time and space to do this, not just have it be another expectations
– A puzzle – “Something I really wonder about is … ”
– A probing questions – “Tell me more about this … ”
– Elicit ideas – “What do you think about … ”
– These 5 conversation moves have been show to be strategies from which people learn
– How can we be more explicit about cultivating the routines and space to support the language that creates learning communities?
– informal learning opportunities are the gold mine of learning because the participants set the goals, the process, and the evaluation/outcome
– 80% of professional learning is built informally
– How do we better help capture the informal learning opportunities in our schools for the adults?

Interactive Session – Making Learning Visible – Mara Krechevsky
– importance of relationships and listening – documentation – practice of observing, recording, interpreting, and sharing through different media the processes and the product of learning in order to deepen learning
– we don’t document what happens – we document what we think happens
– “making learning visible makes learning possible”

Closing Keynote: Tina Grotzer – Thinking About Complexity
– human cognitive architecture is not particularly well adapted for perceiving, attuning to, and reasoning about complexity- complexity doesn’t have to be wicked – it can be engaging and beautiful
– complex, ill structured problems offer terrain for some of the deepest, most rewarding learning
– different forms of complexity – spatial (space), temporal(time), perspectives

Day 3
Keynote – Howard Gardner – Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Re-Reframed – wondering about and wondering at – Teaching for ‘Wonder’standing
– Technological Challenge – young people see and think of the world very differently than before
– media is a two way experience now
– the fast changing yet also oddly permanent digital world
– need to focus on teaching students methods of discovery/verification of information
– critical examination of information
– establishing truths is a distinctly CONvergent experience
– neighbourly vs. ethical good
– What does it mean to participate in a community whose size and extent you cannot know?
– There is no easier way to completely go wrong than to think you can solve a complex problem on your own.

The Global Lens Project – Veronica Boix Mansilla
– preparing youth for our times through interdisciplinary studies, quality journalism and global media – the best starting point for our curriculum is the world
– the media is where we get almost all of our information about the world
– we need to teach students to navigate the world of media
– understanding the world, our place, and ourselves through quality journalism and global media
– we consume around 92-95% of our media from domestic sources
– journalism as a mediator between us and the world
– quality journalism can be a tool for provoking learning about global issues

Finding Meaning
What’s the story? What is the human story? What is the world story? What is the new story? What is the untold story?

Finding Significance
Why might this matter to me? to my community? to the world?

Day 2: Quick Fire – PLN Visualization

Today the “QuickFire” challenge was to use a visualization tool to create a representation of our Personal Learning Network (PLN).

The guiding questions were:
• Who do you connect with?
• Where (when) do (did) the connections take place?
• What types of things do you learn from these people?

We discussed a variety of visualization tools, and I decided to try Popplet. Popplet has some basic functions and there is a free membership.

My PLN visualization can be found here: