EduCon 2.9 – 2017 – Innovate or Die vs. Innovate and Die

Kevin Jarrett and I are teaming up for a robust conversation

Innovate or Die vs. Innovate and Die: How to Cultivate a Classroom Culture of Innovation Despite the Odds and Risks to your Career

Above is the title to the session conversation, and I do mean conversation, NOT presentation, Kevin Jarrett and I will facilitate during EduCon 2.9 in Philadelphia. I’ve only been to one EduCon (2.2) because of my schedule it always seems to elude me. I led a conversation then entitled “Elementary School In The 21st Century, How Does The Pedagogy Change? What Does That School Look Like?”. Doug Taylor, an oft time co-conspirator of mine co-facilitated that day.

Kevin and I both (like so many others) seethe at the slow pace of innovation and change in education. Below is the text from the EduCon 2.9 web site about the session. Come be a participant in the conversation:

Saturday, January 28, 2017 – SESSION 2 – 1:00 – 2:30 – Room 208

Brian Crosby, Kevin Jarrett — Brian Crosby – Pre-K – 12 STEM Learning Facilitator, Nevada’s Northwest Regional Professional Development Program; Kevin Jarrett – STEAM teacher at Northfield Community Middle School

A discussion of the productive tensions facing innovators at all levels of leadership, formal to informal, classroom to central office, as they dare to advance new ideas and transform professional practices, often despite seemingly insurmountable organizational inertia and even hostile political environments. Kevin and Brian will use their personal experiences as the starting point for the group’s exploration of “typical” (and not-so-typical) challenges facing those who willingly disregard the status quo in pursuit of what’s best for kids.

The basic gist is this: great teachers want to innovate; how do they do so, and how far do they go, without potentially angering colleagues, administrators and clients and destroying their careers?

What does / could / should innovation look like?

How and can we make innovation happen?

Who needs permission?

How do we get this message to, “The leaders that will lead us to this?”

What examples do we have that this works?

How do we effectively promote innovative classrooms / schools / districts doing this already?

How do you grow seeds of innovation into more than isolated pockets of innovation, in a world where ‘accountability’ and data are more of a focus than ever before?

Since much of what this looks like defies easy measurement, what measures CAN we use?

Conversational Practice

This will be a conversation that embraces the adage that, “The smartest person in the room is the room itself.” Kevin and Brian will take on the role of facilitators, and while they will add to the conversation, their goal will be to incite the participants in the room to explore the productive tensions in the room. A private wiki will be used to gather thoughts and compile summary observations. In addition, we plan to use the ‘Sucks vs. Rocks’ methodology, described by Darren Kuropatwa here:

Conversation Links

 Learning is messy!

My EduCon 2.2 Session Update / Request

Now that I am in Philadelphia for the Educon 2.2 Conference and able to focus more on my session, I thought I’d get a bit of a jumpstart on refining the conversation. I’m going to take very little time to “present” and use the vast bulk of time to have everyone brainstorm and develop a shared vision(s)  … at least as much of one as can be done in a bit more than an hour.

The title for the session is “Elementary School In The 21st Century, How Does The Pedagogy Change? What Does That School Look Like?”

We have limited time so what should be our focus? Here is a list to get started, any additions deletions you can suggest in comments would be appreciated!


Standards? / Curriculum?

Assessment? / Accountability?

Does size matter?

Facilities? / Equipment?

Which subjects are taught / are not taught?


Magnet school / school with-in school?

Extra-curricular Programs? Sports, arts, scouts, various clubs / interest groups

Local / Global Connections / outreach?

Parent / Home Connection(s)?

What else?

Learning is messy!

EduCon 2.2 – Participate In My Conversation

I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be attending my first EduCon in a few weeks and I wanted to make attendees both F2F and otherwise aware of what my “Conversation” will be about. My session/conversation is entitled: Elementary School In The 21st Century – How Does The Pedagogy Change? How Does That School Look?

When the discussion about a changed vision, an updated vision for education and schools happens, often that discussion is a more general one that doesn’t get much into the real specifics of what that could be … what should that look like? How schools will and should look will be different based on the age level of the students as it always has (unless you disagree). My goal here is not to come up with THE MODEL, but a possible model that would be a point of future discussion … something to point at as a starting point. In fact perhaps what will come out are several different possibilities instead based on location and other variables … that’s fine too. But I did want to focus a bit more specifically on elementary (this could easily be an “upper-elementary” or just a “primary-elementary” discussion too, but I don’t think we have time for that) because that’s where I am, and I think it gets a bit less attention in the general discussion online. The other reason is I think it will be just an interesting discussion period with others that have been mucking around with this stuff and have their experiences to bring to the convo.

Here is the description from the EduCon 2.2 wiki:

 School/pedagogy needs to change, adapt, modernize is the siren call. We will briefly look at and/or discuss examples of lessons, technology use, and projects in elementary school today. Then use the bulk of our time attempting to outline what a “changed” vision for elementary school could and should be. Is there anything that stays the same? Should we approach this from no cost matters, or try to do it for the same or lower cost? PEDAGOGY: Reading instruction … what changes? What doesn’t? Math? Other subjects? What about the building? Probably can’t raze them all and build new … so? What equipment/tools? We could dream big, but I’m thinking we might want to look at a model that is doable? What else? We can build a wiki so the thinking/planning can be archived and continued after the time runs out as well as accessed and added to by those attending off site.

Conversational Practice: We will build a wiki that will be available to continue after the session.

Come join me in some “Messy Learning” about the possibilities!

Learning is messy!

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EduCon 2.0 I Barely Knew Ye … But Your Message Still Got Through

So it would seem to me that at NECC 2007 Twitter was the buzz, but not adopted yet by enough to be truly powerful. I was, AGAIN, just so busy this weekend I was not able to be involved much in all the Ustreams and Twitter conversations and more going on … but Saturday evening I sat down for about 20 minutes to check email and the like and I was checking Twitter and in just 2 windows I gleaned the following twits from various attendees:

Chris Lehmann: Don’t talk about “What” before “Why”.

gary stager – “as a teacher, it is your primary goal to make memories.”

Chris: Technology must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.

Gary – technology matters, it IS about the technology.

Gary Stager – “I’d like to see Margaret Spellings write a musical. I have kids that can do that!”

Stager – pedagogical theory – a good prompt is worth 1,000 words.

ChrisLehmann -” You have to treat teachers with care – so they in turn will treat students with care.”

Lehmann: if you say you are project-based but still give tests, you aren’t really project-based.

“greatest predictor of literacy is giving them access to high-interest books.” Gary Stager

I would say that Twitter has come into its own.

I also saw the end of about 4 presos being Ustreamed and could feel the energy. It reminded me of the energy in the Blogger’s Cafe and the EdBloggerCon before NECC 2007 … except this one lasted a weekend instead of one day.

Since it is looking like I might be able to attend NECC this year too, I can’t wait to see how the bloggercon evolves.

Learning is messy.

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So How Could I Still Teach My Students If School Was Cancelled? Reprised

NOTE: The pending blizzard hitting the central US and soon the east coast made me think of this post from 2 years ago. It was written in response to the H1N1 flu epidemic that was hitting at the time – and the experience this last week at the EDuCon conference in Philadelphia when students came to school even after it was cancelled due to heavy snow to help run and participate in the conference . Ironically I could not make this claim now … that I could run class from home if school was cancelled… even though more of my students have internet at home now because we have just not learned as much about being connected as my last class (partly my fault for allowing things/policies to take me away from what I feel strongly about). I’m trying hard to change that situation. This really could work well. Here’s the post from May 2009:

Think of all the learning time being lost by those students already on leave because of theH1N1 flu issue. What if this did become more widespread and we did have many students out of school for a week or more? My school district has already informed us that if even 1 student is diagnosed at our school with H1N1 then they would close that school for 5 to 7 days AND those days don’t have to be made up at the end of the school year. That’s a lot of lost learning time AND lots of free time on the hands of kids that may lead to other issues.

My students are at a bit of a disadvantage over others simply because not all of them are connected at home, but if I had time I could probably make this work for 60 to 80% of them if they were sent home due to a flu outbreak or other reason in the future. My wife’s students are 100% online at home, so think of this in terms of whatever your situation might be.

What could I make work? I could make school happen for my students from home. How?

Well first all my students blog, so I could leave them assignments on our class blog for them to research, write about and then submit to me to check and even comment back to them about. In fact just using their blog I could carry on a conversation about their work on almost any topic. I could even post math problems for them to do, science, social studies … really almost any subject. I could post photos on our Flickr account (and elsewhere), videos for them to watch, links to web pages of all kinds on any subject for them to read or interact with and then report to me about their learning in a way where I can interact with them about it. Oh, and they could do the same, posting video or photos they’ve taken (maybe just with their or a parents cell phone), to demonstrate learning or to build content to present online to the rest of us. And “US” doesn’t just have to be our class, others could join in or at least view and comment on our work.

I could even provide a field trip or guest speaker from anywhere in the world via Ustream or Mogulus and they could interact about it in the chat – ask questions, and then write about it afterwards and even have discussions.

Using Google Docs I could even enter a document with a student or even a group of students to work on or ask questions about or get feedback about.

Also we could collaborate on any of the above activities along with other students anywhere in the world.

Using the links we already have on our class wiki page I can have them visit different free online math, language, science, social studies activities and more … and add new ones as needed.

All for free, using tools students already know how to use. And understand, we could do this easily – including collaborating with other students because we already do this, we already have the contacts and network with other students and teachers set-up. We already blog and use Google Docs and Skype and wikis and more with students all over the world. We are ready to go.

Now I have just scratched the surface here, applications like Ning,  Moodle, Elluminate and so many more could further facilitate what I described above.

So time spent at home instead of school could be just about as productive as being in school – I assume I’d still be getting paid even if school has been closed for the flu (or other reason), students have something productive to do, aren’t spreading germs, do you see a downside? – I’m not.

I hope others will further elaborate how they see this working  as comments. I really held back on ALL that is possible here so have at it!

Too bad school couldn’t be more like this all the time!

Learning is messy!

Showcase The Network? or “World Domination”

With EduCon 2.0 taking place this weekend in Philadelphia and poor me not able to go, I thought I would share an idea that perhaps the attendees could rattle around.
The host of EduCon, Chris Lehmann, explained what its about this way:

“… a chance to put our heads together collectively and agree to try to make our schools better tomorrow than they were yesterday, and a chance to celebrate the best of what we’re doing today too.“

We “edubloggers” complain about and bemoan how slow change is, how difficult it is to get the word out or show best practice examples of what could be, so that others might understand and come aboard. Well, here’s a thought.

We all revel in this great Web 2.0 connectivity and communication, and lately, how powerful the network is. Many of the same people involved in pulling off the K12 Online Conference, which was a perfect example of using all these great communication tools to educate others without having to be in the same locale, are involved one way or the other with EduCon.

Why not use all these great communicators and  communication tools (You know … “The Network” … our network) – Ustream, Skype. Elluminate, YouTube, TeacherTube, blogs, wikis, … to put on an online event. Maybe a one day coordinated (or maybe only sort-of coordinated) event where we showcase all these tools and teaching methods with best practice examples from around the world. Who would the audience be? The media, general public … anyone we can induce to “Pay Attention”.

What better way to explain / demonstrate why all these tools could make a difference in education than by using them to educate those that could make a difference? We could have Ustreamed lessons – or even short pre-recorded clips of lessons and student and teacher reactions that others would be invited to watch live. We could record all the day’s events and send DVD’s after the fact to media outlets that didn’t bother to watch. We are good at this kind of stuff … we could do this … if the network wanted it to. Just a thought.

Learning is messy

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