Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Impressions from One to One

In no particular order, some thoughts about this year's One to One conference held in Penn State over the past three days.

  • VERY frustrating Internet connectivity. ARRGGHHH!!!
  • The kids from the CLC Charter School did a GREAT job with their projects AND their presentations. One team created a video that told the story of "Flowers for Algernon" but from the perspective of the character of Miss Kinney. Excellent. Another team did a project that told the story of Nuclear power that rivaled the kinds of movies you might see at Three Mile Island. It was just incredible. And really, it was made in one day. OUTSTANDING! The last was a funny movie about Pirates. A fun and funny video and a nice presentation. All the students represented themselves and their school VERY well. I am SO glad I got to see them. Take a look at some of their archived projects on their website. (Y' know, I almost expected to hear one of these kids talk about, "the beauty of knowledge." They were so good!
  • The presentations by David Warlick, Chris Champion - er.. check that, Chris Lehman!! (Thanks, Kristen, for pointing that out), and Cole Camplese were all excellent. I enjoyed every second of each one.
  • I really enjoyed talking to the David Jurkiewicz, Rob Nelson, and Bill McRae, the teachers behind that Springfield High School's Inauguration project. They did a nice job presenting, too. One student comment that stuck with me was the one that a girl said when the project was over. She said, "I don't want this to end. I'm going to miss this project." When you see what they did and how they worked so hard to troubleshoot issues and to make the event a truly student-produced event you can understand why she would not want it to end - if it meant going back to classes as usual.
  • Not sure how I feel about watching a Prezi presention.
  • I was impressed and touched to watch a teacher give moral support to a shy student presenter. Just through proximity.
  • I envied the relationships that some teachers have with their students. It was obvious that there is a caring, nurturing, and supportive relationship there. Once again I longed for just one more year back in the classroom.
  • I was encouraged to hear some of the changes that Penn State faculty is making in their teacher education undergrad program. It sounded like those teachers will be MUCH better prepared to enter the kinds of classrooms they're going to find when entering PA's CFF classrooms.
  • I wish the VERY best to a friend who just discovered that his cancer has returned. Yet, he was here and talking about wanting another year to work with his teachers. Good luck, Larry. I hope you can have a DOZEN more years with your teachers, if you want to.
  • While we as a state have a long way to go before we're able to say that we're all providing World Class education for our students, we certainly have made great progress to that end.
  • Overheard: "I can't tell you how nice it is to be in the company of people who would use the word, 'Indeed!' in casual conversation." (That certainly tells a story, doesn't it?)
  • Did I mention that the Internet Connectivity STUNK?
  • Even when sitting with "The Converted" there are still many who don't know the whole story.
  • I get embarrassed when sitting with folks who feel compelled to talk - in a full voice - to a neighbor DURING A KEYNOTE PRESENTATION. SHUT UP! IT IS RUDE!
  • Why don't schools do more to 'celebrate' the many cultures within their district? What a missed opportunity to promote cultural and global understanding.
  • I'm VERY proud of the efforts and the work of the teachers who attended this conference. They were here to learn so that they can do a better job for their students.
  • It was GREAT to say hello st some of the folks I follow on twitter!
  • Backchannel conversations CAN be VERY focused and beneficial - especially if folks are directed to express their thoughts in the backchannel. It keeps them from perhaps talking about last night's hockey game.
Anyone else who was here care to share your thoughts?


Tom McClain said...

Agree Internet was pretty bad.

Also enjoyed all of the keynotes.

The sessions that I went to were good. The top picks were:
C-3, C-49, and C-37

Appeared to be a lot of Web 2.0 and a dash of 1:1. Maybe that is the way of the world.

Thanks to all

RedHeadEd said...

Jim - Agree with lots of your thoughts.

Piling on about the rudeness issue: how come a roomful of technology integrators, etc still don't know how to put a phone on vibrate? And, unless the call is an EMERGENCY situation, why do you have to take it right then and there? People might think you're more important if you're not so available.

I think if we're going to have students create video and the equivalent of a narrated filmstrip (PhotoStory, you know I'm talkin' 'bout you!), we need to become students of the syntax of motion media. Just like it is not acceptable to allow students to make and turn in a PowerPoint/Keynote, etc that is a composition chopped into slide format, it is not acceptable to allow a student to do the same thing in video or PhotoStory format. It's a beautiful opportunity to learn alongside your students on what makes for good video - go for it.

I'm slowly seeing the shift from sessions being all about the "how to" or "what is it" to "why I am doing this" - nice.

They may not be sexy, but the collections of primary source material at the National Archives (session at One-to-One) and the Library of Congress (videoconferences FREE) should not be overlooked - remember you help to pay to maintain those national treasures.

I was very glad to know that there were at least two curriculum coordinators in the room - one from one of our districts, the other I met at breakfast - next year can we have 50-100 there?

Nagging questions: Can there be innovation in an environment of accountability?, (I participated in a conversation session with David Warlick and 20+ other folks, and I felt more confused and disheartened afterwards) Can large schools ever build all the positives of small schools - like SLA and the CLC? I think they can get to Rigor and Relevance, just not sure about Relationships How can a "world-class" university have a conference center that can't support 300 people using laptops for wireless and electrical power?

JohnBr said...

I didn't attend the conference this year, but I am intrigued by RedHeadEd's question, "Can there be innovation in an environment of accountability?"

The literature on innovation suggests that for innovation to flourish, the cost of failure must be reduced. In America, we seem to equate accountability with punishment, but I do not believe that the two are necessarily synonyms.

I believe that we can be accountable for making education better. In doing so, failed attempts must be accepted, perhaps even celebrated. We learn much more through failure than success. But do we teach our students that in our classrooms? Are we creating a fertile environment for innovation?