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Day 1 at ASCD 2012: A Networked Learner

March 25, 2012

Blossoming Trees near Philly Convention Center

Day 1 at ASCD’s 2012 Annual Conference was definitely productive.  While it is impossible to get a full flavor of what’s happening, following ASCD’s, mine (@centerteach), and other Twitter feeds (#ascd12, #ascdzmuda, #ascdmatheson) was definitely one way to stay connected.  Kudos to ASCD for making an excellent WiFi signal available throughout the conference.  i was able to connect to many other workshops by following the Twitter feeds.

The workshops I attended were generally of very high quality.  I started out in the first workshop slot with Allizon Zmuda who talked about Developing K-12 Longitudinal Rubrics to Measure 21st Century Skills.  She did an excellent job of sharing her work with school districts on incorporating 21st Century skills into the design of K-12 curriculum, assessment and instruction.  The majority of her time with us was sharing rubrics that schools have designed for measuring how well these skills are being taught and incorporated.  A variety of school districts are working with her to implement these strategies.

The second experience that day was trying to keep pace with Reed Timmer’s energy as he took us on a wild ride through Tornado Alley.  Reed, one of the meteorologists involved in Discovery Channel’s program Storm Chasers, did a fabulous job of showing us the science, technology, and engineering involved in tracking tornadoes.  Reed doesn’t just track them, he gets inside them to collect invaluable data about a tornado’s character.  It seems personal for him.  He is one a mission to understand tornadoes at their very core.  I also thought he did a great job of connecting his work to STEM education in schools.  He was one of those science, math nerds who loved project-oriented learning in these disciplines.  He was an active member of his school’s Science Olympiad club.  It was certainly captivating to get inside these tornadoes and hear their roar.

My next workshop experience was, Upgrading Your Professional Development: Using Digital 2.0 Tools to Enhance your Training.  The workshop was delivered by Ann Johnson from Curriculum Designers.  While this session referenced a number of tools that were not familiar to me, Mentimeter and Bubbl, I was not as impressed with the outcomes from this workshop.  it was very rushed.  We didn’t delve into any depth using any one tool, nor did we discuss the implications of using these tools with students or how to actually integrate them into the classroom (classroom examples).

The 3:00 pm workshop session was with Agnes Matheson (Twitter) from The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, GA.  Agnes worked with the group on how to maximize learning time in the classroom using brain-based strategies and knowledge of primacy-recency.  She is a Spanish teacher at The Westminster Schools who works closely with faculty on implicating teaching strategies into their language classrooms, especially the use of a language lab as a learning tool.  Using the primacy-recency model, Agnes conducted action research with her classrooms, as part of her involvement in the Faculty Cohort Program through the Center for Teaching.  Her research resulted in reconfiguration of how she structured the use of classroom time.  She finds that she makes much better use of time.  In addition, she shared many of the strategies she uses during “down time” to engage the learner.

In the 5:00 pm slot, I attended a workshop by James Stronge and Leslie Grant on the similarities and differences between “high-quality teachers” in China and the United States.  There workshop was entitled, What Makes Great Teachers Great: Lessons from National Award Winning Teachers.  While there were many parts of their presentation that I found interesting, I found they were stretching their conclusions which were based on a small set of data.  There were only about 12 teachers from China and 12 from the United States in their pool.  I did find some of the comparisons they made between the culture of education in China and United States fascinating.  They are writing a book on the research they are doing so maybe they will be able to fill out their data set by then.

All-in-all a good day at ASCD 2012.

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