Powering Up with the Keynote
Just from these two snippets, you can get a glimpse that the lessons were not specific, technical tips. Roberts did share details from her journey, such as emails she exchanged when originally unsure about agreeing to pilot 1:1, how students started off using machines running Linux since they were more affordable, and how websites in those early years were text heavy and unengaging when compared with today's offerings.
But really, the heart of her stories and message were more universal in nature, relating to her educational philosophy about the importance of relationships and how teachers need to be able to model failure and resilience. Along these lines, the two sessions that I attended after the keynote speaker also turned out to be rich discussion starters regarding our larger goals and roles as educators.
Valhalla High School teacher Mike Skocko led this session, challenging us to rethink the current mainstream educational system. He shared research that prompts us to question traditional testing and grading systems, and he introduced new ways to imagine the student learning experience. As a specific example, I loved learning about the Zone of Intrinsic Motivation (ZIM) model, which Skocko generously makes available for sharing along with all of his other resources.
|ZIM! The Zone of Intrinsic Motivation.|
Click here to read more about Skocko's journey that led to ZIM.
Skocko has great technical expertise and remarkable success when it comes to his students demonstrating skill mastery. Still, while he is a technology teacher and while he was presenting at a technology conference, Skocko is clearly rooted in focusing on the foundations and conditions of good teaching and learning in general.
|District Teacher Librarian Colleagues (from left to right)|
Suzanne Sannwald (me), Anthony Devine, and Stephanie Macceca
Referencing resources such as a thoughtful student blog post "Stop Telling Us It's Not About the Points" and links regarding standards-based grading, Devine's session organically prompted participants to voice concerns and frustrations regarding grades, as well as their own philosophies and alternative solutions. In fact, the discussion was so engaging that it kept on going in the hallway after the session!
This New Era
Hesitation and fear never go away completely, and there are always new tools to learn about. At the same time, I am excited that we have evolved to a point where technology is neither the enemy nor the answer for everything. It is an integral part of our new normal, but the focus is not squarely on technology as an ends. With these recent conversations fresh in my mind, I am pleased that we have arrived in a more nuanced era with enough trials behind us to afford for substantive reflection. And, I am grateful to work in a professional community that is so thoughtful and brave to experiment and explore in the very ways that we hope our students will, too.