Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day Two: MassCUE 2013

I arrived at Gillette Stadium and enjoyed a cup of coffee, bright sunshine, and time to write before day two of MassCUE started. Chris Lehmann soon took the stage and gave a challenging and affirming keynote. I follow Lehmann (@chrislehmann) on Twitter and visited his school, The Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, for the Educon Conference in 2012 so I knew I would be inspired. Some of my favorite notes from his speech include the following:
  • Lehmann encourages all of us to reread John Dewey's work.
  • He wants us to inspire a love of learning.
  • Lehmann wonders why so many passionate teachers cannot make change in education, and asks why do problems persist?
  • Lehmann wants us to build schools that teach children how to live. 
  • He cautions us to think carefully about the language we use, for example "We don't deliver instruction, we teach."
  • Lehmann wants educators "to dream bigger."
  • He endorsed MIT's Media Lab concept, "Lifelong Kindergarten."
  • He prompts us to teach in ways that focus on "how brilliant children are," not "how brilliant we are," and notes that we may have to unlearn some of our usual ways of instruction to better teach children.
  • Lehmann encourages us to develop the learning community by sharing videos and news of class events with families via the Internet and other resources.  
  • SLA, The Science Leadership Academy, uses Understanding by Design learning methods and process.  They have consistent language and learning frameworks throughout the school.
  • He states, "It's not about the technology, it's what we do with it."
  • Lehmann's first priority is to encourage students to be thoughtful, wise, passionate, and kind. 
  • His school focuses on inquiry, and he notes that "inquiry is for all of us."  Three basic inquiry questions he uses with students: What do you need?  How do you feel?  What do you think?
  • Lehmann added that he doesn't want us to forget to have fun when teaching, and he finds it a great honor to live up to the vision children have for him. 
  • He believes that the structure and system of a school are integral to its success. 
  • At SLA they try to be as transparent as possible, "say what they do, and do what they say."
I went to Lehmann's follow-up session which was mainly a question and answer format where many teachers posed questions for Lehmann who answered with heart, experience, and humor.  

Next, I watched Rob Ackerman and Molly Maguire present a digital portfolio presentation. They use Evernote with their students. I'm pleased with our use of Google sites for this, however I enjoyed listening to the types of information students collect and reflect on. I was particularly interested in their use of audio recordings to share student fluency growth with families.  I liked the way they discussed students' engagement with the process too. Although I haven't used Evernote yet, many find it to be their first stop for note taking, information share, ePortfolios, and organization. 

After lunch I had the chance to learn about some great new tools through the conference tweets and my visit to the LearnLaunch start-up space. Now I have a lot of homework to do in order to try out the following tools with greater care: 
  • Doink Green Screen App: Could be great for movie making, anxious to try.
  • 30HandsLearning: Nice IPad/IPhone app for recording events with images, words, and drawings. 
  • Educanon - Looking forward to trying this app which has the potential to make videos more meaningful as it allows teachers to add questions at important parts of the film, and collect student responses. 
  • BalefireLabs: A subscription service that evaluates apps for student learning; this could be a great resource as we move more towards using tech for engaging, effective learning. 
  • TimeTribe: This looked like fun, and I want to try it out.
  • SkillBott: An interesting platform for developing life skills--possible tool for upper levels related to this year's wellness goals. 
  • ListenEdition: Public Radio for the Classroom, This is a resource that could inform our reading, writing, research, and speaking goals well at third, fourth, and fifth. I plan to try this out. 
  • Vertical Learning Labs: Math Models, Games, and Learning
  • Edtrips: A platform for collecting field trip money--might make life easier for us. 
  • ThinkCERCA: Close reading resources--looked very interesting, and potentially helpful for reading comprehension. 

I tried the 30Hands app tonight, and although I have room for finesse, I found the app to be a useful tool for student learning and share. I look forward to trying it more in the days and weeks to come.