Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflecting on the NAIS Conference

I can't believe a week has passed since I had the privilege of working with an amazing group of educators at the NAIS Conference in Boston.

Not only did I get to have amazing casual conversations with many educators but I also led two workshops. The first workshop was during the pre-conference. With an enrollment of 18 teachers, administrators and Heads of School, my colleague Jason Curtis and I were energized. When over 40 people decided to attend we were even more pumped. During the three-hour workshop we explored the concept of blended learning. We had a mixed level of participants in the room in terms of experience with blended learning. For some, it was the first time hearing the term. We pointed out the importance of having clear goals, a culture to support risk and educator innovators willing to break the norm of teaching if blended learning is to be a positive disruption in schools. Blended learning works best as a part of a larger shift around active learning, personalized learning and individualization.

We also infused several design thinking methods to create interaction in the session.For many, it was their first exposure to design thinking methods as well. Last, we modeled a lab rotation at the end to allow participants a glimpse into a blended learning classroom. During the Rose, Thorn, Bud review at the end, Jason and I noted that many comments that were "thorns" had to do with the fact we ran out of time. Check out our presentation below:

During my second workshop I presented with my #dtk12chat tweeps Mary Cantwell, Trey Boden and Shelley Paul. The term design thinking was thrown around a lot at the conference. I was concerned by the second day that so many speakers and folks at the conference were leaving out the most important aspect of design thinking - building empathy. Otherwise known as human-centered design, design thinking is different than traditional project based learning in that a driving question is not "told" to the students. Students define their own questions based on building empathy for human needs. Strong design thinking projects embrace looking, understanding, iteration and "maker education."  Even stronger design projects are tied to community partnerships, service learning and solving "real" authentic challenges. To learn more about our presentation and #dtk12chat, check out our slides:

I also loved that NAIS has started to develop a MakerSpace area in the Expo Hall. We were lucky to have a poster featured in the space about how to Remake Learning through Making. I did bring several robotics kits to display but the space was already packed with awesome things for educators to explore. I particularly had fun on the Makey-Makey piano. 

The best thing about the conference is the people. Love working with these amazing folks from all over the country! I always find the networking, casual conversations, unplugged events and this year the #hacknais sessions the most fulfilling. The key note speakers didn't enlighten me with anything new but I did appreciate their messages and the new ideas they shared with many in the room. I was most impressed with John Maeda, former President of RISD and advocate of the STEM to STEAM initiative. John is bold, an innovator and provocateur. He ran out of time and I felt left wanting more. 

With the Awesome Jill Gough, my NAIS
Teacher of the Future colleague and assessment guru. 

So happy to spend time with the Amazing
Maker/Techy Rockstar Maggie Powers
With my OSG Board colleague, friend and
awesome partner in Blended Learning, Jason Curtis.

Too many awesome #isedchat and
 #dtk12chat people to mention. They are all
inspiring and thought-leaders in our field! 

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