professional development

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?

iPDX14 Takeaways

This past week, I had the opportunity to take part in integratED – Portland organized by OETC.  This conference has a different feel than your regular education conference as it brings together facilitators from across the United States and Canada, to run hands-on workshops where participants are actively engaged in exploring, creating, and playing! One of the great features of this conference, is that there is often multiple sessions that you want to attend at once, so the organizers created a collaborative notes document for participants to share their learning from each session in. This way, you are able to access information from multiple concurrent sessions.

Some of the highlights of the conference for me were:

Opening Keynote – Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of Make Magazine  (Twitter @Frauenfelder)
– As the cost of goods has decrease, society has become more disposable
– Design has changed to be disposable. It is much cheaper to buy a solution to your problem than to make a solution to your problem.
– The internet has allowed the common person, to be able to collaborate with people around the globe to expedited the speed of iteration and respond to changes faster than larger corporations/organizations can.
– Important for everyone to learn that mistakes are part of the design process/learning process. The more you make mistakes earlier in the design process they easier and cheaper they are to correct.

Workshop 1 – Create More, Consume Less – Nancy Mangum, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (Twitter: @nmangum) – Key Apps – Pic Collage, I-Nigma (QR Code Reader), Stop Motion Studios, Tellagami, Videolicious, 30 Hands
– The affordances of iPads allow students to capture and create works of media
– When working with content creation apps, the ability to export to the camera roll is essential
– Importance of creating emotional responses during the learning process, reference to John Medina author of Brain Rules
– Tasks must be designed carefully to allow students to explore and create, resulting in multiple ways to express their understanding

Workshop 2 – Making Connections: Supporting Education Technology as a Building Leader – Tricia George, Director of Technology, North Clakamas Schools,  (Twitter: @kicking333) and Tim Lauer, Principal, Lewis Elementary School (Portland) (Twitter: @timlauer)
– Participants were broken down into small table groups for a round table discussion
– People are struggling with the SAMR model; many people are still finding technology being used in the “substitution” realm
– Integration happens after you build capacity within the system; identify a cadre of teachers who you can bring together on a regular basis to build capacity and identify mentors for others
– Importance of having information easily accessible and transparent (for all stake holders)
– Stress the importance of your staff using email properly – establish clear expectations for the use of email. There are better ways to communicate!

Workshop 3Play is Hard Work – (Twitter: @Budtheteacher)
– Trust is so important in building community – whether with a class of kids, or a department of teachers
– Find ways to express that your classroom/school is a place where people are supported to ‘play’, explore, learn from mistakes, grow. One example that was given, was having LEGO available during a meeting to build and tinker with. – Adults/Teachers sometimes need a reminder of the power of play.
– The further you go in school the more you lose the ‘play’ culture; perhaps, it could be suggested the more it is even needed!
– There are many constraints within the school system that we do not have control over; by looking for ways to incorporate play/improv it allows us to move within the constraints in the best possible way
– instead of saying “yes, but…” try and rephrase into “yes, and..”

Workshop 4 – Networking!

Workshop 5Let Students Be Amazing – Ben Grey, Chief Innovation Officer (Twitter: @bengrey)
– The tools and technology that we have today allow us to re-conceptualize what learning can look like. The landscape has changed and we need to adapt.
– Leadership within his school district will have spent 7 full days (63 hours) developing capacity to think beyond the traditional models of learning
– Our students are empowered to learn with or without us. They are clearly very empowered to learn outside of the classroom. How to do change the ‘classroom’ to make sure they are empowered to learn there as well.
– Control is something that all teachers struggle to give up – We all live in the “what if …” – as an institution are we prepared to deal with these questions
– We often discourage or protect kids from experiencing hard things. We want to save them from having negative experiences.
– The amplification of the internet – ideas now can be shared so much faster and further.

Workshop 6 – Visible Thinking with Apps – Michelle Cordy, Thames Valley District School Board (Twitter:@cordym) – Keys to utilizing iPads effectively – App Flow, Assessment, Workflow
– App Flow – many apps are highly specialized, getting more than one app to work together is called ‘App Flow’ or ‘App Smash’, want to create content utilzing different apps and be able to stitch them together
– Assessment – being able to collect student work, annotate it, provide feedback and return it to students
– Kids can feel bogged down with the learning process, need to streamline it as much as possible so they can be metacognitive and learn about how they learn
– Mindset is key when having kids use iPads – need to prepare them for the eventuality that everything won’t work all the time- great analogy “You have to sharpen your pencil just like you might have to restart your iPad app”
– iPads (current technology) is the worst technology these kids will ever use in their life -> It will only get better from here!
– Apps need to be ankle high to get started, but unlimited possibilities of what you can do with them
– Great application of Stop Motion Animation in documenting the learning process (detailed post to follow)
– Great ideas for Book Creator app (detailed post to follow)

Closing Keynote Speaker – Scott Berkun (Twitter: @berkun) – The future of work is going to look very different from today
– Work has changed from meaningful survival tasks, to now tasks that allow us the funds in order to be able to do those things that we consider meaningful
– Interesting to think about the lack of engagement in the current workforce and what role students moving through school unengaged results in them moving to the workforce unengaged
– There are lots of cultural traditions around work that are not productive; There are lots of cultural traditions around school that are not productive or may not be the best option
– Progress is messy
– Innovation is a catch phrase – better to say ‘significant positive change’
– Much faster to skim text than to skim video -> Interesting connection to the ‘flipped classroom’ -> mostly video based -> perhaps to limit skimming?
– Email empowers the sender
– Blogging/chat feature empower the reader