Last Thursday, I had the privilege of presenting my thoughts and ideas at the ECOO Conference 2012. My presentation was geared around my assessment and evaluation methods and madness.
I was proud to speak in front of such an intelligent, engaged audience who asked so many great questions and provided some varied perspectives. I have embedded below the slides from my presentation.
The conference moved this year from one where the tool was the principal focus to the pedagogical shift taking shape in education. Obviously, I like this move. I think too often we spend time worrying about the what and how of teaching, and too little time is spent wrestling with the why. This conference enabled that wrestling.
However, it also enabled something else for me, it forced me to focus my thinking around assessment, which ironically I spoke about. I realized, with more clarity than I had before, that assessment is right now the linchpin to the shift in education.
John Seely Brown, Michael Fullan, and even Nora Young, all addressed the shift in instruction, but none of them offered the insight into the shift in assessment and I fear that is underlooked.
Frankly, assessment and evaluation may be the structure of the system that slows down change the most.
I see it as there are two main cogs in education, instruction and assessment, and while instruction is slowly coming to life, assessment is still in a state of disrepair. It’s rusted over and will take some serious elbow grease to get it moving again.
And we can’t disregard it.
We’ve made cosmetic changes to evaluation, however, at the end of the day will universities and colleges accept our students if they haven’t jumped through the hoops of GPAs and averages. What then becomes of the innovation, creative problem solving, and imagination?
The ECOO experience has focused in my interest in assessment and evaluation, it has left me with more questions than answers and has enabled me to connect with other educators asking those same questions. I can’t wait to see where this takes me.
Having attended ECOO last week, I often heard about the need to change the model for this technology conference.
There seemed to be a desire from attendees to do two things:
- Differentiate between the beginners in the ed-tech sphere and the veterans.
- Stop talking/presenting about the how we use technology and start talking more about the why we should use it.
Dan Ballantyne (@ballantynedj) and I, while driving home, decided to take on the debate of number two. Dan took the side that specific technology conferences are still important to facilitate a larger percentage of teachers to connect via social media and other technologies, where I took the side that we need to focus on the why of pedagogy and that the tools are just support, therefore shouldn’t warrant their own conference.
We recorded our debate to use as a podcast. Enjoy listening.
Comments or debate is always welcome.
This podcast has been cross-posted on Dan’s blog Avoiding Cookie Cutter Syndrome.
Although, we ran out of steam, I believe the debate is far from over. I have been contemplating the implication of the debate over the last few days and I’ve witnessed and heard various colleagues’ frustration and interaction with technology. I understand that my comfort with technology has allowed me to push the pedagogical ideas, where someone who is leery of social media’s influence is not able to get there, yet.
My thoughts have also been largely influenced over the last few days by the various conversations around BYOD. It is easy to look at the pedagogy that utilizes technology when that is your norm. I certainly appreciated the Teach Paperless blog, Bring Your Own Contexts.
On May 4 and 5th, I was lucky enough to attend the Helping Canadian Kids Thrive conference in Regina, SK. It was an excellent, thought-provoking conference experience.
I was lucky enough for three distinct exceptional experiences.
This little outfit, pairing children with intellectually disabilities and intellectually able buddies, rocked the house. There was not one person in the crowd of nearly 300 that wasn’t smiling as the unparalleled joy was permeated from the stage. It showed that the academics of school are rarely as important as we think in developing a society that works with and respects all of its members. Easily the highlight of the conference and it had nothing to do with what I learned and had everything to do with what I was reminded. Life is to be enjoyed, so live in the moments of joy.
2. Ryan Hreljac’s Presentation
Ryan Hreljac was the Friday afternoon keynote speaker. Ryan is known around the world for his Ryan’s Well Foundation where he has actively engaged in fundraising for various waterpoints around the world. He is also known as an advocate of clean drinking water for all. His presentation on Friday afternoon was understated and powerful.
Now, as a 19 year old, he stressed a message that he’s “not anything special, in fact, I was not one of those kids. But I found my thing. My puzzle piece.” He implored the crowd to find their own puzzle piece. You can’t be Mother Theresa and that’s okay, instead be the best version of you.
He reminded me to find humility amidst praise, recognize that change is slow at times, fast at times (like when you are on Oprah –twice) and that whatever speed it is at is the speed it’s meant to be.
He spoke of the growing consumption of clean water in North America and the drastic effects that a non-conservation social attitude will have.
The difference between him and Craig Kielburger struck me as impressively profound. Rather than being a guy who has a million dollar marketing campaign, Ryan is a regular guy who goes about his passion. Craig is to Don Cherry, what Ryan is to Ron Maclean. At the end of the day, I’d rather sit and talk and listen to Ron Maclean as what is hidden is most impressive.
3. Reframing Leadership: Building Capacity in Unlikely Leaders
On Friday morning, a colleague and I had an opportunity to present on an explicit practice we have tried to implement and encourage within our school. Our “framework”, as we’ve dubbed it, includes many tried and true leadership theories blended together working towards adding an element where we find, invite, help and support our at-risk students with leadership opportunities.
Our framework is simple.
- Unlearn and Rethink Leadership — It is our nature to provide leadership opportunities for our high flyers. They naturally find these opportunities, however, when we re-frame what leader looks like, and how leadership functions, we also rethink which students can fill these opportunities.
- Discover the Point of Entry — Students who don’t see themselves as leaders or who lack the ‘leader attitude’ are most often going to avoid stepping up. We, as the adults in the building, need to find the hidden leader within but then also recognize that an action, specific task or specific issue might be the point of entry for that student. Being recognized as a leader is sometimes the first step is recognizing yourself as a leader.
- Build a Culture of Support — Having a school culture that cultivates unlikely leaders is essential. It can’t be one person trying to work with them all, we need to establish an ethic of where leaders (likely and unlikely) have strong support to try something and fail. Allowing for failure and building from failure in a safe and positive way is key to transitioning an unlikely leaders attitude and vision of herself.
- Teach the Skills — Most unlikely leaders lack specific leadership skills and it is very important that we teach in the moment the skills that are necessary. Never take for granted the skill deficits that these leaders may have and the great opportunities that will arise for these students to learn them.
- Identify and Overcome Barriers — One of the biggest things we can do to make unlikely leaders, ultimately successful, is to help them identify what the barriers are that they face and help them brainstorm the solutions. It is imperative that we don’t provide the solutions or steer them away from barriers, rather it is important that these unlikely leaders face the barriers head on and build the capacity to problem-solve and overcome barriers in their future.
There was a bunch more in our presentation including balloons (a metaphor for building a culture of support), house of cards (a challenge in need of leadership) and some great videos (specifically Derek Sivers’ “First Follower” video.) The slide deck will is below.
Excited that my three conference presentation proposals have been accepted this year.
This May 5 – 6, myself and a colleague will be travelling to Regina, Saskatchewan to present on the topic of “Reframing Leadership: Building Capacity in Unlikely Leaders” at the Helping Canadian Kids Thrive Conference. Our presentation summary reads:
Many people can recognize a traditional student leader: confident, poised, well-spoken. Yet many students with the capacity to lead present themselves differently. At Cameron Heights in Kitchener, Ontario, we have built an explicit framework that enables all students to uncover their passion, discover and build leadership skills and engage in school leadership. By understanding that the biggest impediment to leadership is having support, members of theschool community have built a climate of supporting unlikely leaders. Our pursuit of social justice, character development and youth success is mirrored in our insistence that all students have the capacity to lead. During our session, we will let you know how we built that climate, continue to build capacity, and continuously find leaders in the unlikeliest of youth. But more importantly, we will spend a considerable amount of time discussing, brainstorming and developing capacity for you to bring the ideas and opportunities back to your hidden leaders
I will be uploading the slide deck here in a few days along with a blog post that I’ve written outlining what we have deemed our explicit framework for unlikely leadership. I will include video / commentary etc. after the presentation.
Two presentation proposals have been accepted for the ECOO 2011 conference for next October. The first presentation is titled “Cross-Curricular Collaboration: Using Social Media for Authentic Assessment” which I will be presenting with @ballantynedj. Our presentation summary reads:
What happens when you take two teachers from different schools, teaching different subjects in different grades and you give them a choice of tools? You get opportunities for students to learn with authentic experience, authentic audience and authentic feedback and assessment for/of/as learning. By embracing various social media tools Scott and Dan brought their classes together developing a cross-curricular collaborative approach to learning and evaluation. In this presentation Scott and Dan will take you through the methods and madness of their collaboration helping you understand and prepare to bring authentic assessment experiences into your classroom.
The second presentation is titled “Futures Forum Project: Building the classroom of the future…” which I will be presenting with a group of teachers involved in FFP. The presentation summary reads:
Seven schools from the WRDSB participated in a pilot project geared towards integrating three courses (English, Civics and Careers) in an inquiry-focused, student directed, technology infused learning environment. Hear from the seven teachers who built strategies of collaboration and community to engage grade 10 students. Using creativity, problem solving and formulating great questions, these teachers created opportunities for students to follow their interests and create personalized learning experiences. Using netbooks, iPads, social media and other tech tools, students learned their way into the future everyday.
Needless to say, I’m very excited for these opportunities. I’ll post more information, including notes, thoughts and slide decks as they become available.
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