Thoughts on TIES 2011 Conference - Monday, December 12:
-First, what a fantastic day! Great speakers, plenty of colleagues, engaging topics, and a chance to really reflect not only on how I teach now, but how I can teach - but even more important - how I can challenge and serve my students going forward.
Throughout the day I was able to attend some really cool sessions on various topics. The first session I went to was titled "What Teachers Can Learn From Video Games." The presenter, Ryan McCallum (@cleanapple), did a wonderful job of sharing his vast knowledge on the topic, and discussed many of the ways video games can help teach students meaningful things, even if they may not be cognizant of this learning while they play. Some of the main ideas were:
-The innate assessment in gaming, and how players receive immediate feedback on what they need to do better on, as well as how they are succeeding.
-The crucial narrative/story piece of so many games, and how so many times the player becomes an active member of that story - thus providing engagement & motivation.
-With so many games dependent on working collaboratively, players are force to work in a very positive, collaborative way with each other - and this collaboration amplifies the learning experience.
The Keynote speaker - Joel Rose - talked about his experience in co-founding School of One, and NY Public Schools initiative started a few years ago. Pretty fascinating stuff - I'm still curious about 'the algorithm - but the takeaways for me were two-fold: A. are there ways for me, as an individual teacher, to design my room in such a way where I can instruct through multiple modalities? B. as we continue into the 21st century, there are simply ways in which we need to adjust our methodology - not just integrate tech and new design - to help reach all learners.
After these two sessions, I had the privilege of presenting myself. I felt very fortunate that almost the entire school board for my district stopped by to chat and check out my presentation, as well as our tech integration specialists, some admin folks, and fellow teachers.
I split the next session time between two different speakers: one on PLEs, or Personal Learning Environments. It was interesting stuff, and I could see some natural tie-ins to what we do in our district already with Personal Learning Plans. That said, the talk seemed a little more geared towards administrators and others who are on a different pay grade than I am, so I moved on to...
My colleague/instructor/tech specialist Molly Schroeder's (@followmolly) talk on Advanced Google searching - essentially Google Searching like you mean it! Here's how great this was: I recently finished a Teaching & Technology cohort where Molly taught two of the classes...and I still learned some very cool new stuff!
After lunch I spent some time in the Exhibit hall, then caught Christian Long's (@christianlong) talk about School Design. I found this talk quite engaging, and he had a lot of great things to say. Here are some things that really stuck out to me:
-any effective school design needs to be human-centered, NOT object-focused
-we need to embrace failure
-the role of environment - the 3rd teacher in a student's life being just that: their environment
-for the process: verbs are better than nouns; it's continual and tangential
-3 rules in the development process: empathize, wrestle with ideas/concepts, put it together-test it-get feedback...as the old Saturday Night Live bit used to say: "give it a test run, see how it plays"
-the mission of our school/district needs to be at the core of what we do
-finally, acknowledging the world is a messy place...how can design thinking deal with that?
This was a great day for me as a professional. I learned a lot, was inspired, survived my first presenting opportunity, and was able to share thoughts with other dedicated people in the field, many of them much smarter than myself.
Looking forward to next year already!