Sunday, January 25, 2015

Educon 2.7 Saturday 2015

Educators fill the room at Educon during
 the lunchtime lightning shares. 
Educon is an idea-hub with educators who represent a wide variety of schools, positions, cultures, ages, and geographic locations. And like most in attendance, I made the decision to attend the event because the ideas I learn and people I meet always impact the work I do with strength--it's an amazing learning and networking event.

On Saturday, there were many ideas shared that I can take back to my school district and apply to my daily work as an educator.

Design Thinking and Teaching
During the first conversation, I had the chance to listen to John Duval, Darius Mensah, Brandon Corley and John Clements describe their NYC Expanded Success Initiative. The title of their presentation was "Putting Young Men of Color at the Center of Design." We started by making a human "tension map" to determine where people were on the spectrum of teaching experience, and their knowledge of design thinking, competency based education, and culturally relevant education. The presenters use design thinking to partner with their users, the students, and instead of using a "deficit approach" they meet students where they are at with a culturally relevant, competency based program. They use a DEPTH approach to their education design which includes Dive in (leverage team), Experiment (field observations), Prototype, Test, and Huddle (share out). They noted that their design is constantly evolving and they continually revise and refine to better meet students' needs. It was wonderful to listen to their story which demonstrated tremendous study, investment, and commitment to students.

During this session I also learned about and piktochart to support relevant and meaningful math learning and project work.

Encienda Educon: 5-Minute Shares
At lunch, I had the chance to listen to a number of educators share outstanding ideas for learning and teaching including the following:

Jennifer Orr, @jenorr, shared the innovative ways that she invites families into the classroom. Students lead the effort. She used a triangle to represent the strength of the family-educator-student relationship, and the teaching/learning that arises from those special events lasts long after the parent share.

Mark Samberg @mjsamberg introduced to, a great source for professional learning that I want to explore more.

Jamie Gravell @dontworryteach got up and shared that the ideas of critical race theory, transformational resistance, and youth participatory action research transformed her ability and will to teach and learn well. This is a link to Jamie's presentation.

An introduction to New York City's Hudson High School's 1:1 program gave me a glimpse of how an educator might use Google site management tools to coach and support student learning and illustrated how one-to-one blended learning when done well enriches student-teacher relationships as well as student investment and learning.

Teacher Leadership was another share by Tim Boyle,   demonstrating that when teacher leaders work together they build community, share practice, elevate voices, write, gain funding, and more. He showed the value in their teacher leader network, a value that could be replicated in all schools or school systems.

Nancy Wilson, @NancyW, shared the need for students to curate their own learning materials and experiences. I want to revisit her presentation and website as I plan for my own students' learning and research.

David Wees, +David Wees, showed us ways that we can develop math classes and programs that focus on rich mathematical conversations and thinking. He described students as "sense makers" rather than "mistake makers" and showed ways that we can prompt student to discuss their mathematical thinking rather than focusing on correcting their "mistakes." This is a link to Wees' presentation.

The final share came from Bob Dillon @ideaguy42, an educator, who lives in Ferguson, Missouri who gave his first-hand account of the this year's events and Ferguson's history. It was a moving, thought provoking presentation.

After the lunchtime share, I attended RaghavaKK's conversation. He shared the idea that most mediums improve once they become less real and more imaginative and creative. He tells student to "teach him something" and "make him more excited about life." He emphasized that we live in a visual world and it's imperative that students learn visual literacy so that they are able to determine bias and fact. He described creativity as the process of curating, mixing, collecting, and synthesizing. He spoke of history as an imaging tool and helped us to think of ways that students can create to reflect multiple perspectives as well as to elicit response and understanding.

Race Discussion for Beginners
The final conversation I attended was "The Race Discussion for Beginners/Dummies: Crafting Transformative Classroom Conversations about Loaded Topics" by SLA teachers, Matt Kay and Pearl Jonas. Many of their SLA students participated in this discussion. I was so impressed with the students' confidence, speaking ability, knowledge, and sense of community. During this presentation we discussed the important ingredients for fostering courageous conversations in the classroom. The first ingredient was making sure that you develop a strong classroom community by showing children you care each and every day. Building community takes time and attention. Matt and Pearl emphasized behaviors such as "listen patiently," "police your voice," acknowledge students' personal interests and needs, and cite classmates in conversation. They emphasized that curriculum is about people and bringing humanity into what you are teaching about.

Next, they always start these conversations by giving students a chance to tell what they know about a topic or situation. Jose Vilson, +Jose Vilson was in attendance and he emphasized that we have to step back and give students the time to talk alone and to one another in these conversations. They also set the stage by posting conversation protocol and purpose.

Further Study
Later I also want to take a look at the many sessions, challenges, and links shared via Twitter during the day including the following: