Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ISTE Daily: Day 4 - Crystalizing: The day it began to come together

On a personal note, thanks for all the tweets, reposts and comments. This blog is approaching 10,000 unique views and it is because of your shares. If you find useful stuff, please spread the word - thx.

There is a day at most good conferences where everything comes together and you begin to plan how this conference has changed the way you think about things and what you want to take back with you takes a more concrete form. My day for that was Day 4 -- I hope that you have found your magic day as well.

(I just pasted 4+ pages of notes into this blog from Evernote to try and distill)

CUE Shred Session

CUE, one of the ISTE sponsors is an interesting professional development format. it is focused on low presenter to attendee ratio, concentrated and focused time, and excellent presentation. The SHREDs are two minute previews of presenters. The session is low on takeaway (they are previews) but high on energy. They made me start thinking a lot about substance (most of the presentations are tool applications or single concepts lessons) vs style (high energy, FUN!). I don't harbor any bad for the concept, but it is nice to know what you are getting into...and I have been to enough presentations short on style to appreciate the concept.

They also seem to be a little self-perpetuating, but can't fault a successful business model :)

Keynote: Yong Zhao stops the show.

The ISTE organziers breathed a sigh of relief after this keynote. The opening keynote was a mess in format and message w/ frustrated takeaways and contradictory introductory messaging. It has been blogged, whispered, shouted and echo chambered into ridicule at the conference.

Yong Zhao, @yongzhaoou on twitter, brought down the house

His basic premise (watched from the overflow room, because the organizers were only allotting three per attendee) was an analysis of international testing rankings and their meaning. Mixed with humor (the asian countries do really well -- thus we conclude that the secret is chopsticks -- fine motor skill development, complex PBL while eating soup, etc.), he explains that China, while ruling the test average ranking is (generally speaking) disappointed by other measurement: number of unique patents, paradigm shifting entrepreneurs, etc.)

He chastised American education systems for lowering our national standards in order to beat Shangai. Reading is essential, but it should never be the national goal.

His historical analysis was thought provoking: in the 1950s, the USA was bad...worse than russia -- and we won the race to the moon. In the 80s, we were bad...worse than Japan (a nation at risk) -- and we ended the cold war, spurred on the microcomputer age, and started a global transformation. Now, we are bad...worse than China.


America is not getting worse. America is not in decline. By the measures that are being looked at, we have always been bad. But we have the largest US economy. China is number 2 with 4x the population.

The key difference, he begins to unpack, is confidence and creativity. Singapore ranks number one in standardized math scores, but ranks low in confidence. Americans have an inherent belief in our rule-age.

His Conclusion: Americans care more about children than about math.

There is no standardized test that will produce a Lady Gaga or a Steve Jobs or even a Bill Gates.

We are chasing the wrong goal: Americans don't teach standardized testing well. But we have musical instruments and computers and teachers that care and students that feel their confidence and creativity empowered.

Best line: We don't teach better. But we also kill creativity less successfully.

Take away: We need to abandon the the idea of employable skills. "a 19th century horsewagon will not take us to the moon no matter how perfect it is." How do we turn each of our students into an entrepreneur? how do we create a curriculum that follows the child instead of chasing the test score? how do we maximize strengths?

I will be blogging more about this later, since i think it is the vision that lies under our leadership development program at the school. -- More to come.

Getting Stager-ized

Many of you who follow me on Twitter know that I have an odd twitter love-like-challenge relationship with @garystager. He wrote the counterpoint to @40ishoracle's article on BYOT, he and I have clashed on #flipclass and #digcit curriculum. While this is a lot like my bearded fly against is clean-shaven Colossus, I consider him an invaluable part of my PLN, because he is grounded, passionate, and cares about education. The fact that we disagree keeps me honest.

He covered a lot in his presentation: Personal Fabrication, Reggio, Generation "Yes", and more.

His take away: we need better range and better depth. Schools have always used the technology of the day and students have always shown intensity and passion.

In classic Stager fashion best quote: "ISTE Standards are harmful, dull, and serve no purpose"

Put better: Why teach students Powerpoint and Excel when they could do more interesting things? Why force them to create presentations on topics they don't care about to an audience that does not actually exist.


He continues: While worrying about the test score comparisons to other countries, we should be scared at the implications of a generation of children that grow up without having conversations with adults.

He bashed some Prensky and some #flipclass

...and he challenged us to raise the bar: create projects with challenges to solve. stop artificial sorting. have classes where students MAKE things.

Tapping into the tinker-movement he tied the idea of making real things to robot ballerina and super awesome sylvia. When we build on the desires of students and have an approach that focuses on teachers being in dialogue with children about what children WANT to learn -- We go further than we can when we focus on the curriculum.

Take Away -- Good Prompts:
Mediorcre prompts make for bad output and bad learning. Good prompts challenge a student to do more than he or she is currently equipped to do and motivates them:
  • Brevity: a good prompt should fit on a post it note. "Build something that starts here and ends here"
  • Ambiguity: don't create limits you don't care about. "Something" is better than "Car"
  • Immunity from Assessment: how do you put a B- on a poem? a functioning robot?
Imagine a world where we evaluate based on key questions: does it work or not? is it moving? can it endure? are you (the student) satisfied with it?

He ended with a beautiful challenge? If we as teachers can remember baking cookies in class, playing a fun game, taking a nature walk...then it is incumbant on us to bring that back for our kids and for our colleagues who don't remember that these MEMORIES are the key to real learning.

Less US. More THEM. Time to quit being surprised when kids do extraordinary things.

The Mid-Day Malaise - The Technology Integration Pavillion

As much fun as I had conversing and network with #sigMS at their playground, I was kind of excited about being a part of the Technology Integration Pavillion, although since it was on the expo floor, i should have known better. I took some time to look at mindstorms and arduino (inspired by Stager, I am planning on doing some robot play in Advanced Apps and maybe even #digcit next year). 

I got to the TIP with my volunteer shirt and hit a void. Lacking the organizational structure of the #sigMS, the TIP was a gathering of weary-looking admins sitting and eating. No signage or structure, so it felt like interfering to strike up conversations on the topic i had prepped so i just sat and conversed about anything. 

In the presentation section of the TIP, there were a few corporate sponsors and schools talking BYOT (they keep calling it "D"...and the perspective shows). It was a little agonizing. I left early.

#sigMS Forum -- Social Media and Tools

I recharged with a monster and decided to take my last forway into being an undercover Media Center Specialist. The #sigMS forum was a lively group with lots of tools discussed, shared and thrown.

@stevehargadon gave a nice keynote about us being at the dawn of a new era: one of Co-creation, engagement culture...he used a nice image of one candle lighting another but the light never being diminished. Great image.

He focused on the positive possiblities of the grassroots and longtail nature of the new era, but I found myslef thinking of the negatives. The flip side of the world in which anyone can publish and produce is the infowhelm and confirmation bias echo-chamber. Librarians are in a unique position to combat this, but they have to be made aware -- i think we have a little too much cheerleading to offset fear going on.

Tools Highlights: - a social media/backchannel/Cell phone based response system. Think twitter, todaysmeet, and poll anywhere combined.

Tricider -- online polling with social media.

sig1to1 and sigTC: More BYOT Advocacy in a BYOD curious world:

I traded out a ticket and paid an extra $20 to participate in the combined sig1to1/sigTC (technology coordinators) forum. The forum was an interesting combination of BYOT skepticism, overwhelmed techs, a few early implementers, and lots of idea generation. I am looking forward to the posted links to see the ideas generated, but mainly felt (as I did at the earlier session) that we are missing out on some obvious connections with the schools who are doing this already -- not doing it for cost savings, or out of a bizarre feeling of "we have to do something" -- but because we believe in the pedagogical advantage of having student think critically and choose the technology that best fits them and their environment.

Reflection: This was the day that gave me a lot to do when I get home. I want to redesign the #flipclass to narrow down the amount of out of class to the essential. I want to create more hands-on and more PBL. I want to take back a vision of personalization for all students and leadership development. This was an inspiring day of conversation, PLN building, and challenging but inspiring presentations.