Reflections on Learning 2.010

Learning 2.010 ended last Saturday and four days after the end of the conference I think I’ve recovered enough mentally to actually talk about my experience. This is the 3rd Learning 2 Conference that I have helped to organize and pull off with no less than 20 other educators from in and around Shanghai. Putting on a conference is a lot of work…and only after you’ve done it can you really know how mentally exhausting the time is during the conference. What I love about this conference is each year we focus on breaking the conference mold and giving educators new ways to think about learning not only through the content of the conference but the conference structure itself. We talk about the teacher needing to be a facilitator in the classroom, so this year we had no “teacher”. There was no keynote, no presenters just facilitators. I think we did a very good job of finding both international talent and flying in facilitators that understood what we were going for in this conference. You had to be flexible, wiling to adapt, and easy going in order to change as this conference progressed. Find another conference that 24 hours before it was to begin nothing was planned. Not one session, not one cohort…nothing. Yet some how when you allow yourself the ultimate flexibility to adapt and change, some of the best learning occurs. We started planning this conference with the notion that we can not foresee and meet the needs of 400+ participants without knowing what they want to learn. By using facilitators and the cohort/unconference model we were able to adapt and create sessions on the fly that hopefully met the needs of everyone at the conference in one way or another. I had a couple people approach me and tell me how great it was to actually attend a conference were you had to be activity involved. If you were not giving feedback to the facilitator in your cohort, or if you were not actively creating, leading or voting for unconference sessions you were out of luck. Participants were energized by the conversations and the flexibility to learn what they wanted to learn. I believe the best of this came out in unconference sessions around Prezi. Prezi was the hot tool of the conference and because of our unconference model it kept getting voted in for sessions....

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America….you just don't get it!

From cbsnews.com Math Tests For Five-Year-Olds? The experiment could involve tests as long as 90 minutes and change reading assessments for kindergartners through second-graders in the nation’s biggest school system, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has embraced testing. The approach dismays some parents and educators who see it as mechanizing education. Show me one piece of research that says a 90 minute test is good for a 5 year old? Heck….show me a 5 year old who can sit for 90 minutes! The Department of Education unveiled the $400,000 program in an e-mail Monday inviting elementary school principals to participate. About 65 principals have expressed interest, and as many as 12,000 pupils may ultimately be involved, said James Liebman, the department’s accountability chief. Let’s see why would principals be showing interest in testing Kindergardeners? HHHMMMM……I wonder…..$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. …going beyond No Child Left Behind requirements. For each of the city’s more than 1,400 schools, third-grade through 12th-grade test scores factor significantly in letter grades – which can earn principals bonuses or jeopardize their jobs. And you wonder why you can’t find people to teach in inner city schools. The school grades and stress on test scores anger some parents and teachers, who say classes are being drained of creativity and reduced to drills on how to ace standardized exams. Dear Policy makers….please read A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink. Thank You! The rise of testing in No Child Left Behind’s wake has caused contention nationally. Some studies show students’ math and reading skills have improved, but that schools have cut back on history, music and other subjects. Seriously….why is this a shock to anyone? We still have an 8 hour school day and we can only teach so much. If we’re going to teach more math and reading than something has to give. And to think that at one point in my life my wife and I packed up everything we owned into a storage unit and drove to Albany, New York to find jobs. Lived out of our car and a tent for three weeks with no luck before driving back to Washington and getting jobs in Aberdeen and Westpoint. What’s the reason for this? Really we need to know where kids are in their reading and math? I mean, teachers can’t and haven’t been doing that for…..like……ever? Here’s the thing….do we really want America to be like China?...

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Fundraising in a Web 2.0 World

What I truly love about the web is when it takes thing that before seemed hard and difficult and all of a sudden makes them easy. Not only that, but when you are trying to get money and funds into a country that is hard to get into to begin with the web allows you access to people on the ground that can help. SAS (my school) has set up the SAS Myanmar Relief fund. Working with the International School in Myanmar and an NGO on the ground there our school has found a way to get money directly to those helping people in the country. “IDE Myanmar has operations in practically all of the cyclone-affected areas in the Irrawaddy Delta, and is hence positioned well to provide aid where it is most needed. Here’s what we are doing: IDE has targeted 20 township areas that are affected, containing an estimated 8,000 -9,000 villages. About 125 staff have been mobilized to work in these areas – approximately six per township. The initial focus will be on providing immediate relief but rebuilding the agricultural and food security systems will receive equal priority and attention.” To read more about IDE’s activities in the areas of Myanmar affected by the cyclone, click here: IDE RESPONDS TO MYANMAR CYCLONE This is what it’s all about. Technology allowing us to help those in need. What I love about justgiving.com is that they understand the new web. I’ve already added the facebook widget to my facebook page. You can bookmark it on Del.icio.us with one click, you can add it to Myspace or follow the RSS feed. You might have heard that Myanmar is not allowing supplies into the country at a very fast pace. By donating to an organization already working in Myanmar we bypass the politics and give directly to people who can help. Of course we are also giving money and setting up things for victims of the earthquake last week. China has asked for foreign help and you can give to the Red Cross or other organizations that are helping there. There are many groups here at our school who are stepping up to help as well. Last night when I got home there was a list posted in our apartment building that I could only guess was names of families in our apartment building and how much money they have...

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Earthquake in China-We're OK

Just a quick post to let everyone know that we’re doing fine in Shanghai. I just finished talking to EARCOS who is an organization that most international schools belong too. The director there told me he had checked in with all the EARCOS schools in the region and everyone is fine. I have created a quick Google Earth file to give everyone some perspective of where the earthquake was in relation to Shanghai. You’ll find the two campuses, my apartment and the placemarker of roughly where the earthquake took place. Thank you everyone for your concern. I’m sure our school will be helping in some way. We are already putting together plans to help those in Burma where estimates of some 32,000 people perished in a cyclone last week….and now this here in China. As my wife and I say: Live It Like You Love It cause you just never...

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Back from Western China

I’ve actually been back for a couple of days, but hit the ground running getting in at midnight and having to full on PD days and friends visiting from the States and then Dubai. Kashgar was wonderful. Different people, different culture. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were in China and had not actually left the country. You can view all our pictures from the trip by clicking on the picture below: We did end up finding the carpets we were looking for. In fact…we found to many of them. Might have to put Google Ads on the blog to help pay them off. 😉 A great trip that we would recommend to anyone! Wonderful people, wonderful culture, and our guide Ali was simply delightful! [tags]China[/tags] Technorati Tags: Kashgar, China,...

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