Sunday, January 31, 2010

Taking. Play. Seriously

Facilitator: Brian C. Smith
Conversation Description: Diane Ackerman's quote, "play is the brain's favorite way of learning" is oft used to describe the learning that takes place in elementary schools. Despite that belief, a simple visit to any school in the country will reveal a picture that flies in the face of Ackerman's statement. We know why play is being squeezed out of schools, but bringing it back will take creative thinking ideas and sharing. Together we will discuss and construct ideas for bringing the aspects of play into more learning experiences.
Framework of Play-
•anticipation- expectation
•surprise-a-ha! moments
•discovery- a new sensation or idea or shifting perspective
•pleasure- it feels good
•understanding- new knowledge, application of ideas
•strength-empowerment, confidence, new skills
•poise-grace, state of balance, composure, contentment

What is your play history?
What do you think you learned from play?

Types of play-
body and movement (rough and tumble)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

User-Generated Education

Jackie Gerstein

Idea for the Conversation: Once kids get the K-3 foundational skills let them create their own educations.
Is it possible, etc?

The problem: Should a student-centric, user-generated education be the predominant learning model for this era of the 21st century?
The protocol: Technology-Enhanced Socratic Seminar
Socratic- based in the idea that deeper understanding of complex ideas occurs through rigorously thoughtful dialogue.
*dialogue not debate*
•4 elements: text, questions, leader and participants
•Leader's job is not to present material. Leader listens and define additional questions.
•you should leave with more questions than answers.
•based on reading a text or texts.
•Leader: "I wonder if..."
if we can google the answer to a question we shouldn't be talking about it.

see wiki for texts: Disrupting Class
Anderson, J. Remaking Education
Furedi, F. Let's Give Children a Store of Knowledge

User generated education assists the learner in selecting the best tools for individualized learning.
problem: those who are naturally more vocal and extroverted have a voice. use tools to give all kids a voice. let kids pick the tool that they want to use.
honor people's different styles and ways of contributing to a conversation. Not everyone likes to talk.
social media increases options for participation.

Discussion ideas:
everyone is a learner, some are "lead" learners. reconfiguring the role of the adult. making learning transparent.

What is/should be the role of the adult?
talk of guide, talk of creating and manipulating the environment
discussion about core or foundational skills. what are the core skills? core ideas? cultural literacies?
How do we blend approaches? (I think this is an important question)
Do we have enough faith in kids?
Why do we (adults) get to decide for children what they should know?
What matters? (my question)

Alvin Toffler: "Let's throw it out and start all over again."

Thinking Creatively: Inventing the Possible

Educon Session 1: Facilitator: Linda Nitsche

Conversation Description: If schools kill creativity, then what hope do we have of helping our students be prepared to devise creative and imaginative solutions to problems in their futures? Come examine frameworks for thinking and working creatively. Explore and experience creativity, innovation, and imagination in action. Reframe your problems into opportunities.

We each contributed to a wall of the "bricks" that inhibit creative thinking-

Frameworks for Creativity:
Paul Torrance-
-incubation formula for stages of creativity-
1.heightening anticipation: warm-ups, arouse curiosity
2. deepening expectations - apply to content curriculum but look at differently. no rigid path.
3. keeping it going- stretch. go beyond. apply outside of specific area.

research: children who scored high in creativity were more successful than those with high IQ (over 40 years of watching, testing).
elements: innovative, adaptive, creative strengths

Fluency:brainstorming. rules. as much as possible. open up to all ideas. avoid criticism!!!! no comments (+ or -). piggybacking on someone else's idea. practice hearing others' ideas and use them. oddball stuff-want kids to feel comfortable going beyond. taking risks.
Flexibility: flexible thinking, ability to get past your set perceptions of the first picture that popped in your head. takes practice. notice that you're stuck there.
Originality: the result of good fluency and flexibility. that one good idea that comes out.
Elaboration: a creative process isn't just the idea, it's how you elaborate on the idea. example: think up a cool car, be able to give all the details of it.

Scamper: ideation strategy
S=Substitute (other ingredients, materials, etc. )
C=combine (blend)
M=modify (magnify,minify?)
P=Put to other uses
R=Reverse (roles or rearrange patterns)

start with a question and move through the "SCAMPER" to look at possible answers from different perspectives. OR start with a statement of fact and use scamper to generate questions. look at knowledge, ideas from a variety of perspectives.

"What if?" -"classic phrase. use it!"

Lateral Thinking: from the mind of Edward De Bono
(youtube video edward de bono on creative thinking). will embed here whenever I am able to get onto youtube :)
challenge the process.
provocative statement- look at the problem in an "impossible, contradictory way"
random words- strategy where you choose a totally random word. (from anywhere). attach it
and use it to brainstorm. does it help solve the problem in any way. (takes your mind away from its' preconceived notions of something and helps you see it in a new way).
parallel thinking- 6 hats, take on different viewpoints

So what?
imagine it project- fascinating collection of videos. watch video and record thoughts

Behaviors we want to encourage:
•risk taking

Now what? Remember the barrier wall we created at the start of the session -
Name a bridge. How can we knock down the barriers?

Educon Keynote: Marilyn Perez

notes from the keynote speaker at Educon- Marilyn Perez (district admin in Philly)-
•Think of schooling as opportunity to provide access and equity for all, regardless of background, etc.
•It begins with the principal of a school.
•high expectations for all students
•believing that every student has innate talents and can reach their potential
•Teachers-believe the power of your words. It is possible to achieve and learn regardless of circumstance.
•Education can transform quality of life for poor children
• a sense of order. if students don't come with it, we must provide it for them.
rigor! high expectations for all children! homework...
relevant. fun.
desire to make things different, courage to challenge the status quo. have a relationship with students. "attitude of servitude" serve others (your students) with love. don't judge your students b/c of their backgrounds.
reflect on your expectations for students.
What is the purpose of schooling?
teach students to communicate, contribute, find solutions, have a successful life, be productive.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

4th Grade Book Trailers

Each 4th grade student read a biography on a person of interest. After watching and discussing several examples of video book trailers, each student created a storyboard for a book trailer about their biography. We used Frames to create the trailers. After they were complete, parents were invited to come to the classroom and watch them. Here are a few examples of our students' work: