Monday, August 2, 2010

My Reflections from the Reform Symposium 2010

I seem to be having some trouble starting my reflections of the RSCON10 in written form, though it seems like the only thing my mind has been focused on since the conference ended at 5pm EDT yesterday, is the wealth of information that I gained over the two days that I was able to participate.  

I originally thought I was going to go through each session I attended, summarize, and tell what I learned.

I seem to be laughing at myself now.

All of the presentations are running together, but my ideas are also moving and shaking inside my head.

Instead, what I think I'll do is, first, make a list of the presentations that I attended with links to their archives (or I will link them as they become available) so that you can view them too.  Then, I will make a list of things I learned/ Ideas I've had as a result of the sessions.  This way, I have some things in writing, instead of just swimming around inside my skull.

Presentations I attended on July 31st and Aug. 1st of the Reform Symposium 2010 while still in pajamas in the comfort of my own home, for FREE:

1. What the Heck is a 21st Century Skill Anyway? presented by Angela Maiers

2. Backchannel in the Classroom presented by Richard Byrnes

3. New Teacher Survival Kit presented by Lisa Dabbs and Joan Young

4. HOTTS (Higher Order Thinking Technology Skills) presented by Kevin Creutz

5. Playing to Learn presented by Maria Anderson

6. Students Redefine School presented by Monika Hardy and Students

7. Abolishing and Replacing Grading presented by Joe Bower

8. Innovative Practices in Education- The Power of Students Producing for Authentic Audiences for Authentic Assessments presented by Paula White

9. This Ain't Your Mother's Classroom: Why You Need to Use Social Media In Your Classroom presented by Tim Gwynn

10. Education: Timeless and Priceless presented by Steve Anderson

Things I Learned/ Ideas I Want to Try/ Ideas I've Had as a Result of RSCON10:

1. Hello Wolfram Alpha.  Why have I never heard of this math site before?  And why do none of the teachers I work with know about it?  And if I get to school and someone already knew about it and didn't share, I am going to be pretty upset... Wolfram Alpha.  I'm not exactly sure of all the ways I can use you yet, but I know you'll be valuable.

2.  I am not alone.  Although I feel alone in my school building many many days, I am not alone.  With at least 105 or so people in every session that I attended, and people keeping up with the backchannels during the sessions, and then following up on twitter and writing blogs about ALL OF THIS LEARNING, I can clearly see (or read) that I am not alone.  This gives me hope.  Hope keeps me going.

3. I've always been strongly against grading, but I need to do my homework and research.  As a special education teacher, I spend so much time assessing and all of my assessments are formative.  I am constantly assessing throughout each and every month, constantly recording data, constantly making notes, doing informal observations, having to remember to write data down from the playground, the hallway, the gym, the cafeteria, the lunch line, etc.  I report data quarterly to parents, produce a narrative 3 times a year, produce an entire IEP with present levels of performance data, and do 4 report cards.  I hate the report cards because so many of my students don't meet the proper criterion for their grade levels.  They get "adjusted grades," but what does that even mean?  They get an adjusted curriculum with adjusted expectations and take an Alternate Assessment in the state of Ohio.  Grades are... useless.  But, I need the information and the opinions and the research to back up the statements I make... Joe Bower inspired me to do that homework. And when I do, I will join his Moratorium on Grading.  But I want to have a definitive stance.

4. One of my goals for the year is to show another teacher how to backchannel.  My thought is that I would like to teach our computer lab aide how to backchannel and see if she can get it moving in the computer lab.  I am still brainstorming all of this, but I think third graders would be able to do this.  I think they could be discussing the story they read each week, the social studies topics, the science topics, questions about math topics, etc., etc., etc.  

5.  I also think that backchannelling is a great way to differentiate.  If all of the students have "pen names" or code names (think Justin Beiber or Miley Cyrus), and the teacher has a list of all the code names, then students are able to share their opinions or questions freely.  As the teacher lectures, the students can ask questions anonymously (though the teacher would know who is asking).  I also believe that backchannelling could be used for formative assessment.

6.  I attended the New Teacher Survival Kit session although I am not a new teacher.  In 3 weeks, I'll begin my 8th year as a teacher.  But, I think the things discussed in this session were worth hearing again.  Plus, it reminded me of the positive attitude that I need to start the school year with.  Sure, we might be in the middle of negotiations.  We might be facing some difficult editorials written by community members.  We might even be facing over 35 RIFs in the last 2 years.  And yet, I need to start the year with a positive attitude in the interest of my students.  I want the best year for my students.  Start positively (and stay out of the teachers' lounge).

7.  I loved the reminders about Bloom's Taxonomy from the HOTTS presentation.  I think that I don't think about this enough.  I think about developmental milestones and Ohio Content Standards and functional skills and components of an autism program and all of the needs of all of the students with special needs, and I don't think often enough about incorporating higher order thinking skills.  I want to incorporate these skills more for our students.

8.  Although this quote was attributed to Cel Foster, a teacher from Fremont, Ohio, she says that is was not her quote, but someone else's (no matter whose quote it is, I LOVE it), "We need to stand in front of students, NOT as master teacher, but as a MASTER LEARNER."

9.  Awesome quote by Monika Hardy - "Learning is the New Teaching."

While there were certainly more than 9 things that I can take away from this weekend's Reform Symposium, I need even more time to process it all.  I need to read others' blogs, revisit the things I saved, revisit everything I tagged in delicious, and start the school year to see what challenges lie ahead.

What I do know?

This weekend's Reform Symposium was well worth the time I spent laying in pajamas in front of my laptop.

I learned more this weekend than I have in the last  year's worth of PD at my school AND in the 2 years of my Ed. Tech. Masters Program.

Thanks to those who presented, organized, participated, moderated, and listened. Thank you. Thank you!


Jennifer said...

I thought I was the only one whose head was swimming! Great review of things you learned.

I was only able to catch a handful so I look forward to catching some of the ones you attended.

David said...

Great review. I went in, thinking I'd do the same thing... summarize each session, and say I had done it. Boy was I wrong! I'm still trying to get a handle on it all.

I enjoyed learning with you in many of the sessions, and look forward to continued learning on Twitter!