Patrick Higgins, Jr.

Posts Tagged ‘ascd’

The Last Two Weeks: Getting it onto the Page

In philosophy on March 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm

It’s been an interesting three weeks in which I’ve had the opportunity to learn from several “edulebrities,” and my head is just about full.  It came to a boiling point today during Diana Laufenberg’s “Embracing Failure” session at the NJECC Conference when I realized that some of the ideas we were sharing had appeared in several of the other experiences over the last three weeks.

So what follows below are a few ideas that I’ve decided to put out here in raw form.  The three conferences I was able to attend, NJASCD Annual Conference, TeachMeetNJ, and the NJECC Conference, all pushed me to think deeply and collaboratively, as all the notes were taken with groups of people.

TeachMeet NJ

Harkness Method.

This was shared by David Korfhage who teachers History at Montclair Kimberley Academy.  I had heard of the Harkness Method, but David did a wonderful job explaining how he employs it.  It reminded me of Socratic Seminars, but less structured.
•    arranged desks in a circle (ideally a big table).
•    once the discussion is going is to let the students drive the discussion (at least 80%).
•    teachers need to be comfortable with silence.

Lyn Hilt.  Lyn, who is someone I have followed on twitter for a while, really impressed me with her stories about changing professional development within her building.  She described how she employed Atlassian’s idea of “FedEx Days” at her school during one of the scheduled Professional Development Days.  If you’re not familiar with this idea, essentially she gave her staff the day to work on whatever they wanted to, but at the end of the day, they had to present their idea and the work they did to their colleagues.

NJASCD

From Linda Darling-Hammond:
On Testing culture and the cult of one right answer:

  • “There’s a lot of scrimmages, but not a lot of games.”  This is due to feedback.
  • Feedback needs to be given not only the “scorable” aspects of learning, but also on how to problem solve.
  • Kids never become habitual in their capacity to become competent–meaning that they don’t see themselves as able to solve things well.
  • once kids take on ownership of the bad side “I’m not good at…” then it is very difficult to remove them.
  • It’s less threatening to not do their homework, than to do it and get it wrong for fixed mindset.

ON Carol Dweck’s work on Mindset:

  • is intelligence fixed?  Or is it elastic?
  • Two types of kids get trapped by a fixed mindset:
    • GT kids.
    • kids that figure things out quickly early on.
  • There is no correlation between when your kid learns to read and how well they read later on.
  • Great teachers move kids out of a fixed mindset into a growth mindset.

PDA: Professional Development Academy

  • to ready teachers to lead and ensure the success of a professional learning community.

The district created an academy focused on keeping a cohort of teachers together for one year, and provided them with resources, time, and consistent support outside of the classroom.  Interesting piece they did to establish the continuity between the program: long-term subs were matched with teachers so that they began to understand the functions of the individual classrooms.

From NJECC

Diana Laufenberg keynoted the conference and really struck a chord with me regarding her use of improvisation with students and her desire to put them in real spaces and let them do meaningful work.  Diana has a unique ability to trust that the students she teaches will rise to the challenges she gives to them without smothering their thinking or tainting it with her own ideas.

  • Diana is talking about change as meaning incompetence in what we already did.  I love framing it this way
  • I really like how she used the term “mourn the loss,” when referring to asking teachers to change what they do.  They must first mourn the loss of the old.
  • School trains them to be less curious.  Let’s flip that around.  We are natural explorers.
  • The idea of teaching improvisation as a skill
  • We need to change our classrooms into spaces that are less us more them, where there voices are heard and honored.
  • Another great piece from SLA: their LMS designed for reflection was outstanding.  Each space allows kids to not only turn in assignments, but also reflect on them in public.
  • Let’s teach failure.  Not how to do it, but rather, what to do once it happens.

Can We Handle the “Truth?”

In teaching on December 21, 2010 at 9:50 am

Yesterday, Grant Wiggins took a good sized whack at a hornet’s nest(Be sure to read all of the comments, too).  He boldly stated that fiction should be removed from ELA curricula:

No, I am not kidding. I think it is absurd that the bulk of reading making up the ELA curriculum involves fiction. There are few good reasons for retaining so much literature and many good reasons for dumping most of it. Plato famously banned poetry from The Republic. And who is the author of the above quote who agrees with me? None other than Thomas Jefferson.

The responses appeared across various networks faster than you can say Huck Finn.

I give Grant credit for raising the point in such a way.  If you’ve been in English departments in America over the last few years, the topic of including more non-fiction is one that we’ve been discussing at length.  Additionally, there have been myriad studies that show how we’ve created a void for male readers through our adherence to certain titles within the canon.  However, there is something that bears mentioning when we talk about the types of books we read in schools.

The person working with the students.

I work with a group of English teachers now who I know get students, both male and female, into the literature they read.  Could we do better at providing choice to them and providing access to texts that would suit them more perfectly?  Absolutely.  But recently, we asked our students what they thought about their English classes and an overwhelming majority came back to say that they really enjoyed the novels because of the teachers.  And, to further counter Grant’s point, 56% of our respondents were male.

Mary Beth Hertz wrote about this last night, in what I thought was a clear counter-argument that contained both an appeal to our emotions–because let’s face it, great fiction should create empathy within us– and a sober look at some of the things we can do to make our ELA classes more accessible to those we feel are disaffected by the canon.  She also pointed to Nick Provenzano’s post that looked at the yearly reflections on his curriculum:

The one thing that is really tough about being an English teacher is that ever year, the curriculum gets old. As it gets older, the students are slightly removed from it. In the curriculum for my district, the “newest” piece is Death of a Salesman. That is now over 50 years old. I think Death of a Salesman is still relevant to students today and the Dustin Hoffman movie is a great performance of the work. I still love teaching The Crucible and the kids cannot get enough of Holden and The Catcher in the Rye… It’s Twain and those crazy Romanticists and Transcendentalists that are losing the power they once had on students. Many kids cannot see the connection of Huck coming of age and Thoreau writing that people should be who they are no matter what others think. What next?

What Nick points to is clearly something, from my conversations with English teachers over the last few years, that is on the mind of those in the classrooms.  Can I still use the tried and true novels we’ve used and help students make connections between themselves and the characters?  Can they access these?  What I liked about Nick’s post is that he details some of the changes he’s made in his curriculum by including a class on the Graphic Novel, or Pictorial Literature, and other elements like pulling in new material to teach things like satire.

Strangely, though, as I conclude this and think about the words I just read and wrote about Nick’s practices, it goes back to the initial point: it’s the person working with the students that makes all of the difference.

Audience Trumps Structure Every Time

In change on August 29, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Last week, in my reading of Kate Glass’ article at ASCD Express “ReThinking Five Paragraphs,” I related to much of what Kate portrayed in her writing.  The staid structure of writing that we’ve all been exposed to as students, and perhaps perpetuated as teachers needs some close scrutiny.  When, other than on standardized tests, do we read arguments that wrap up neatly in five formulaic paragraphs?  This is, as Dan Meyer put it in his 2010 TEDxNYED talk, akin to an impatience with irresolution.  And Glass notes that:

Freedom can be a little scary. Kids sometimes even panic when they are told they can decide how many paragraphs their essay needs. It can be shocking for them to find out that, yes, sometimes a paragraph has only three sentences.

Without a doubt, writing in an unstructured form is scary for students struggling to discover their voices as writers, but it’s precisely what will make them better when coupled with guidance, coaching and support from a patient teacher.  However, by continuing to force a good percentage of student writing into that frame, we are working to stagnate their development as writers more than we are to foster it.

Glass further points that even after wrestling for years with the historical background of the format

I never missed an opportunity to remind my students that the structure was actually derived from Aristotelian principles of logic. Who better than Aristotle to endorse your lesson plan?

she came to the conclusion that teaching that format as default was doing more harm than good:

I finally came to the conclusion that the five-paragraph essay just no longer serves kids in the 21st century.

and

…not only were my students complaining that they found the structure too constraining, but so were the very college professors I’d be turning them over to when they graduated.

which is exactly what we found when we spoke to college professors who teach primarily freshman in the traditional freshman comp at universities.  The format has constricted our students abilities to see writing as thinking, because thinking doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into five boxes.  What they expect is that students can have original thoughts that have value; what they find they get are canned responses.

In workshops with teachers this summer, I used the work of Andrea Lunsford and the Stanford Study of Writing (Clive Thompson hits it better here though) to show that all hope is not lost for this generation of students.  One thing that Glass pointed to as paramount to her teaching and the teachers of writing everywhere was the ability to write for audience:

Of course, I still have to train my kids how to use the five-paragraph essays for standardized tests, but now more than ever, in this world of Facebook and Twitter, our students need to learn the crucial notion of audience.

Lunsford used a Greek word, kairos, to describe what she found in her study as the students’ ability to detect audience and adjust their writing accordingly.  I wonder where audience comes in when we talk about the idea of changing the definition of literacy in today’s day and age.  Regardless, it has to factor as prominent, and if we accept that, to whom are our five-paragraph essays aimed at?  What audience demands those other than the standardized test?

Heidi Hayes Jacobs: Curriculum 21 Essential Education for a Changing World

In ascd, curriculum, school 2.0 on January 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm

On my desk yesterday sat an unwrapped copy from of Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ latest book “Curriculum 21 Essential Education for a Changing World” my monthly gift from ASCD. In all honesty, I immediately balk at most things labeled with the ordinal number “21″ as a result of its saturated use in educational circles these days. Rarely does a memo leave the offices in Trenton without mention of this initiative or that program designed to incorporate the 21st Century in some manner.

I am just a little over the term, that’s all.

Being that today is a day of airports and the requisite time-suck that they, and the airlines, put you through, I knew that I’d have time to get through some of the book on the way down. My intent was to use some of it as a springboard for FETC, as some of the themes presented are concurrent with some of my aims at the conference.

The book is laid out in an interesting format, in that Jacobs is the editor, but the first four chapters are hers. Following her are chapters from: Stephen Wilmarth, Vivien Stewart, Tim Tyson (of Mabry Middle School fame), Frank W. Baker (who is also creating a ton of great content over that the Making Curriculum Pop Ning), Daivd Niguidula, Jaimie Cloud, Alan November, Bill Sheskey, Aurther Costa and Bena Kallick.

Since this is mid-flight, and I am nowhere near through the entire book, I thought I’d start with some reactions to the first chapter authored by Jacobs. The thrid through fourth chapters dealing with the structural change to schools and curriculum at the systems level, also Jacobs’ chapters, I’d like to treat on their own, especially after some of the sessions I plan on attending tomorrow.

“The good old days are still good enough.”

In chapter one, I enjoyed the three myths that she believes need addressing when talking about school reform, especially curricular reform. The first myth is a sentiment anyone involved in moving schools and districts forward encounters on a daily basis. Very much the same as the TTWWADI mentality, this one extends beyond schools typically and into the community that surrounds it. There are methodologies that are timeless in education, and there are those that are fleeting. Without careful examination and experimentation with these ideas, we lose the ability to know what works best in given situations. Schools or communities, Jacobs states, are “shackled by memories,” and many times paralyzed by the insecurity of change.

“We’re better off if we all think alike–and not too much.”

The second myth addresses what Jacobs calls “America’s love/hate relationship with being educated.” The myth, is as unsettling as it is hilarious. The glorification of the self-made man who rises out of poverty with little or no formal education to millionaire status is revered among the general population of the United States. Jacobs points to Susan Jacoby’s “The Age of American Unreason,” here with its examination of the fracturing of American discourse into factional discord, whereby thinkers surround themselves with those who share their own ideas. This for is evidenced by the consistent battle between the viewers of Fox News and those of every other major media outlet. We now have the ability and what’s worse, the desire to surround ourselves, rather insulate ourselves with those who think like us. What is missing and necessary in any future of curricular change, according to Jacobs, is a return to active, open discourse between factional thinkers. We were founded amid chaos, and our students need to understand that disagreement is not disloyalty.

“Too much creativity is dangerous–and the arts are frills”

Even though we have much data showing the correlation between study of the arts and music and future academic success, as a society we marginalize the study of these disciplines in times of extreme panic or budget shortfall. Jacobs looks to Dan Pink to help characterize the future skill-set of the 21st Century worker (ugh, I used it as an adjective). Sir Ken Robinson defines creativity as this: an original thought or idea that has merit. In that capacity it cannot be limited to the realm of arts and music. We don’t have innovation fields like accounting unless there is someone who sits in his or her chair and conceives of a whole new way to crunch numbers and manipulate their trade. Eliminating or denigrating arts as “frills” does a complete disservice to the students we teach today who will become tomorrow’s leaders.

What is Summer Reading?

In ascd, curriculum on May 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

summer-reading-533

It’s coming to that time of the year for school districts around the world where we begin assigning our summer reading to our students.  In the next few weeks, PTO’s and other fund-raising groups will be competing with one another to raise money through the sale of every district’s summer book lists.

Concurrently, students and teachers are pondering the merits of the titles on the lists.  Students are wondering if there are Spark Notes or a movie for the books in question, and teachers are wondering which of the titles they have chosen, if any,  will resonate with students.

I am wondering about the reasons behind summer reading.

My office receives more calls about summer reading than we do about just about any other topic within curriculum, including honors placements.  Surprisingly, half of the calls are complaints about the fact we actually assign summer reading (students need a break), and the other half of the calls are just the opposite: that we don’t assign enough (sharpen the saw).  How do you win?

For some reason, summer reading has become the bane of my existence in that I can’t determine its role in our curriculum.  In looking at it, I see it as playing one of two roles:

  • Addendum to the curriculum, meaning that these are books within your curriculum that you cannot get to during the year, but are necessary to the successful completion of the course.  This is truly only applicable in courses where the curriculum is external to the school district, as in AP or IB.
  • Demonstrating to students that reading is not solely an academic endeavor, but a lifelong skill.  This model is not to prevalent in our schools today, but exists in communities that show the value of reading through their actions.

I’ve been looking at various models of summer reading, and I’ve asked the question several places, and what I’ve come up with is that in order for summer reading not to fall back on the drudgery associated with it, both from the students standpoint of reading (or Spark-Noting) the books, or the teachers who spend time assessing the work of the students in the first weeks of September.  I don’t know which is worse: having to write a paper about a book that meant nothing to you, or having to read a paper from a student about a book that obviously meant nothing to them.   What’s the solution?  I’ll present two that I liked from the many responses I got out there.  The first is employs the use of social media, the second, not so much.

As I said above, I asked this question of several people, both on Twitter and on the English Companion Ning, and the responses I got were insightful.  Kristin Hokanson gave me this bit of transition, which matched my thinking very closely:

summer reading2Her first post, which is the bottom image, shows how I view the traditional summer reading process, but the second one shows how her district is toying with the idea that there has to be something more to what the students do with the text; we have to allow them to read together.  In his Wall Street Journal piece from a few weeks ago, writer Steven Johnson describes that the future of reading will involve us reading together and having discussion write on the pages of the texts that are on our e-book readers, so that at any given moment I can discuss with colleagues, or look for discussions that others have had right on the very page I am reading.  Distracting, perhaps, but as an alternate assignment for some sub-groups of students it may work.  Seriously, if I had the ability to take time out and get some clarification while slogging through Jane Eyre as a sophomore, I would have jumped all over it.  That book nearly destroyed my desire to read.  Thank goodness for Holden Caulfield, who arrived swiftly in September.

Others, too, are turning to social media to help them facilitate discussion around summer reading as it’s happening, and leveraging the technology to make the assignments richer.  The English faculty at Fredericksburg Academy have all spoken up about their use of social media with their summer reading as a means to increase engagement.

Late last night, I received this from Candace Follis in response to some prompting:

summer reading3

and it changed some things.  Should summer reading include summer writing, and should that writing be in such a form that it builds communications skills around the text?  Can you have informed dialogue around why a novel is not in your top five?  Simply, can we tell a student that if they don’t like the book, they need to illuminate for us in some capacity why they didn’t love the book?  I am sure several hundred thousand English teachers have done this, but I like how Candace phrased it; it changes the way I see what we ask students to do in the summer.

Lastly, Dana Huff is really the impetus behind this thought stream, and her description of their program is below.  If you look back at some of the posts I wrote during the ASCD Conference this year, you’ll see that I hovered around one idea specifically: modeling expert thinking.  Dana’s school, The Weber School, includes an element in their September evaluation of summer reading that I feel does just that:

Students in grades 10-12 have the opportunity to read books selected for study by faculty members. Students will select which novel they will study prior to the end of second semester the previous year. During the first week of school, students will participate in seminar discussions led by faculty based on these selections. Students will be evaluated by faculty, and these evaluations will be part of the students’ grades for English during the first semester. Faculty members may request that students complete pre-discussion activities. Our goals are to encourage students to become life-long readers who read critically, insightfully, and enjoyably, to give our faculty and staff an opportunity to model the behavior of life-long readers, to familiarize our students with authors and literary works that include a range of genres and universal themes transcending time and place, and to challenge our students to grow, to reach, to stretch, and to broaden their experience of what it means to be human.

In the next few days, I’ll be posting about what we plan on doing here in our district, and appealing to all anyone who has ideas about making it work well.  Whatever we decide to do on the assessment side of summer reading, if we decide to do anything at all, I am going to use Brian Smith‘s post as my guiding principle:

summer reading1
“summer-reading-533.jpg.” Online Image. New York Times. August 7, 2008. May 13, 2009 <http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/07/recommended-reading/&gt;.

Great Pushback, From a Local Source

In ascd, pedagogy, teaching on March 18, 2009 at 10:24 pm

This comment appeared in my email inbox the other day, submitted by a teacher I work with in regards to my Attention, Engagement, Learning post from ASCD :

I really liked your “transfer of responsibility” model. But to a degree I disagree with the idea that students speaking/ interacting is a panacea for learning. I remember in my teaching classes we were drilled with the mantra “leanring is social”. But I think that’s just a new myth. I think instruction has to be differentiated. SOME kids are social learners and some are not. I frequently do partner assignments in Russian at the high school, and one of the consistent comments I got back on my survey was “less partner work”. My other class there ( I have two sections) seems to love it. I’ve also seen partner/ group work devolve into BS sessions or one person giving the answers to the other and the other kid not learning a thing.
So: not a panacea, just another tool to use appropriately.
I was blown away that anyone in my district actually reads this, but psyched to have some push-back from a local level where, to me, it matters most.  Here was my quick reply:
Thanks for checking it out; it was a great weekend where I was able to really get into excellent discussions about things that matter.  Here’s my take on your reaction.

Yes, some kids are social learners, some are not.  Some kids draw pictures, some are like me and cannot even begin to attempt that.  What the GRR model advocates is not “all social all the time,” but rather a mix of various types of collaborative and cooperative work.  Some of that will involve talking, some may not.

Plus, when you take a close look at what Kagan believes about the brain and what he believes about how we learn, the structures make a ton of sense.  In the model you gave me for your classes, how do you hold each student responsible for what goes on in the discussion?  If, as you say, it devolves into a BS session, what can be done to deter that?  The structures Kagan created all are built with a combination of group and individual accountability whereby, if done right, there is equal responsibility on the part of all cooperative partners.

From my perspective, we as teachers work very hard.  Can we begin to look at what we do not from the standpoint of teachers, but from the standpoint of learners?  If we did, I think we would agree that there is a lot of responsibility that can be transferred to the learner.  This is not just a tweak here or there I am talking about, but a whole paradigm shift in practice.

And, that was not all.  He came back today with another great insight:
My observations and criticism were directed more toward the PET scan and the concept that “the person doing the talking is the one doing the learning”. For me to buy into that model I would need to see more context for what specific events were occurring during the PET scan. For example, I”m sure that parts of the brain involved in registering the facial expressions and emotional reactions of the person one is speaking to are lighting up in that scan. But does that necessarily mean that that person is “learning” more of a particular content? What if we took two individuals and asked one to write a summary of  Romeo and Juliet and asked the other to retell it? Which brain would light up more? And what needs to be lighting up to demonstrate learning? To be mildly flip: I bet my brain would light up pretty brightly if I was about to be in a car accident. What am I learning (except that I”m screwed …:)
My point simply is this: I need more evidence to buy the notion that the “one doing the talking” is the one who is learning. This may be true for some social learners in some contexts but not necessarily in others (again, returning to what we both agree is the need for differentiating instruction).
I like and accept in principle the GRR model, especially in the broad principal/ thesis of moving the student from dependency to independence. I think that some of the failures I’ve seen of cooperative learning was that it kept students stuck in being dependent on other students for the answer/ learning, rather than using it as a means to wean them to a level where they can demonstrate/ perform a skill independently. So I think the concept if I do it-we do it-you (plural) do it-you (singular) do it is a good one. (Although not all kids will need to do the you plural one all the time in all situations…
These are the kinds of discussions that we should be having, and whether or not they are in person, at this point, I don’t care.  Eventually I would love that, but we have to start somewhere.
What do you think?

Radiohead, Mortenson, Illiteracy, and Visualizing

In ascd, writing on March 17, 2009 at 8:44 am

I’ve posted this before at some point, but in reference to my conversation with Greg Mortenson on Saturday at ASCD, it popped out in my mind as something I should revisit.  Mortenson points out that there are 110 million children in the world that are illiterate.  When you view this video, it begins to take shape mentally.  Much like Chris Jordan does with his work on visualizing waste, this truly pulls the illiteracy problem worldwide into focus.

Attention—->Engagement=Retention

In ascd on March 16, 2009 at 9:54 pm

When you get into school either today or tomorrow, whether it’s on your prep period, or during a walk through the halls, take note of who is doing the talking in your schools.  Is it the students?  The teachers?  Take this one into consideration as well:

Brains are more engaged when people are interacting with one another.

Are students interacting in your school?  Are they placed within situations that promote safe conversations and high-yield accountability?  What happens when these answers are “no?”

Kagan shared with us this image that clearly shows the activity within the brain when various learning tasks are going on.  What do you see?
kagainbrain2
Here’s what I see.

The person doing the talking is the person doing the learning.

Yes, I understand that I just wrote that on Saturday in reference to another session, but it is so much more telling when looking at these PET scans.

Try taking your next lesson plan, your next department meeting or faculty meeting (please do this there) and incorporate some cooperative learning structures into the process.  In looking back at this weekend, I am noticing a connection between two specific ideas: the Kagan structures and the Gradual Release of Responsibility model espoused by Fisher and Frey.  Here is that image once again:

grr2

Notice this: your direct instruction is not lost; you can hang onto your chalk and talk.  It just lives in a smaller space within your overall lesson or meeting structure.  That area where Fisher and Frey delineate at Guided Instruction and Collaborative Instruction is where the learning structures of Kagan reside.  So the flow goes “I-We-You(plural)-You(singular).”

Image Credits:

PET Scans: “Kagan Structures Enhance Brain Engagement!” images adapted from Rita Carter’s Mapping the Mind.

Gradual Release of Responsibility.  Image taken from this slidedeck.

Kagan’s Structures

In ascd, teaching on March 16, 2009 at 7:23 am

Just a heads up: these next few posts are going to all deal with my time spent with Dr. Spencer Kagan.  His generosity in sitting down to answer my questions led to a bunch of information that would be irresponsible of me to put into one post.

For the second time in two days, I’ve been fortunate to sit down and have a truly transformative conversation.  Dr. Spencer Kagan, a psychologist and author of hundreds of books about using cooperative learning structures in schools, sat down with me after his session and we talked about the primitive needs of our brain and how they wreak havoc on modern learning, embedded curriculum and the lack of a separate curriculum for “21st Century Skills.”

Kagan’s session was based on this idea:

“unstructured interaction does not lead to equity in the classroom.”

and it forces you to think for a minute about what equity is, and what it means to decrease the gap in achievement in your classroom.  For me, when I begin thinking of that, or when I listen to a teacher talk about a class with children of widely varying abilities, I think of how difficult it becomes to make sure that beyond helping a child reach a year’s growth in a year’s time, but also making sure that the gap between the high-achievers and low-achievers is minimized.  In his session, Kagan showed us some examples of data he’s collected in which classrooms that had a huge achievement gap and were given direct instruction aimed at raising everyone’s test scores actually did work, only the gap between the high achievers and low achievers remained constant.  He then showed the same situation with an experimental group of a classroom that implemented true cooperative learning structures, and that gap nearly disappeared within a year’s time.

kaganstudy

Cooperative Learning is based on four principles, according to Kagan and others, that fit into the nice pneumonic PIES:

  • Positive Interdependence – occurs when gains of individuals or teams are positively correlated.
  • Individual Accountability – occurs when all students in a group are held accountable for doing a share of the work and for mastery of the material to be learned.
  • Equal Participation – occurs when each member of the group is afforded equal shares of responsibility and input.
  • Simultaneous Interaction – occurs when class time is designed to allow many student interactions during the period.

Again, and I apologize if this is becoming a trend in my writing, this session focused on a lot of doing, coupled with some amazing information on how the brain worked.  Doing, rather than just sitting hearing about the theory, makes all of the difference in learning.  This was Kagan’s message overall.  Throughout the hour and half, we interacted in several ways with both those we did not know and those we did.  We used touch, interview, and most of laughter, to get ourselves in a ready state for learning to occur.

Whether you are an advocate of this theory, which I am, or not, it was hard to deny that the activities we engaged in: Sage and Scribe, Celebrity Interview, Hagoo, Take-Off/Touchdown, and a quiet signal, did not focus our attention and put us in a position to be receptive to learning not only from Kagan, but from our new colleagues as well.

kaganstructures

Kagan, S (2007, February, 8). Simple Structures to Reduce the Achievement Gap. NCCREST, Retrieved March 16, 2009.

Some small matters.

In reflection on March 15, 2009 at 9:13 am

Some procedural items from Day 1 at ASCD.

Firstly, wifi.  What a shift from last year in New Orleans.  In much the same light that I’ve been talking about the shift in what type of student I am, attendance at this conference is no different.  Being able to broadcast out and pull in others to this conference is a huge upgrade.

Secondly, the conference center here in Orlando is enormous, almost too big for the amount of people that are here.  Coming from much smaller conferences this year to this one is a little daunting.  I’ve never been to NECC, but what I have read of those who did, it’s similar in scope.  This year’s attendance at ASCD is (including exhibitors): 8,132 and total registration (minus exhibitors): 6,955, and it’s very roomy.

Thirdly, there is a Poland Spring Water cooler in every room, so you don’t have to fork out the $3.25 for a bottle of water or lug around a bottle from outside.  I am big fan of being properly hydrated.

Lastly, the staff from ASCD are fantastic.  Whether it was opening up media credentials to bloggers, giving access to presenters, the quality of presenters, or the scheduling of the presenters so that each session time slot has something to offer for nearly every interest, they have done an outstanding job.

Looking forward to what Day 2 will bring.

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