Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Excited to see the Learning 2.012 conference is filling up fast. The conference that I helped to start back in 2007 continues to explore the meaning of what it means to be a modern day conference. Every year the committee plays with different formats and different ways to get participants involved in the learning process. The one thing this conference has never had is a keynote speaker with the committee always trying to find ways to get participants involved in the learning process.

For Learning 2.012 in October the breakdown of sessions looks like this:

  • Two Extended Sessions led by Learning 2 Leaders (3 – 3.5 hours)
  • One Learning 2 Leaders presentation: the big idea in a nutshell
  • Two additional workshops or presentations
  • Two ‘unconference’ sessions
  • Three ‘cohort’ sessions in curriculum/common interest groupings
  • Three sets of Learning 2 Talk sessions

You’ll also want to check out the website and have a look at this years Learning Leaders. The conference continues to attract some of the best in the field and within International Education. 

I’m honored that after stepping down as a main conference organizer two years ago that the committee has asked me to stay involved and has again invited me back to be a learning leader. It is one of my favorite conferences to attend and be apart of for no other reason in that it’s just different from any other conference I’ve been to.

The Early Bird Registration ends this Friday (June 1st). If you haven’t registered already you might want to head on over and get registered quickly. After June 1st it will cost you an extra $50. I wouldn’t be so worried about the extra $50 as I would be that the conference will fill up. It’s limited to 500 participants.

Have you been to Learning 2.0 in the past? What have been your take aways from the conference?

If you are going in October what is it your looking forward to the most?

bostonThe end of BLC means the end of my summer is right around the corner. A couple days before I step on a plane to head back to Bangkok, and my thoughts return to all the educators I’ve been able to interact with this summer.

No matter the conference, the session, the keynote, educators seem to quickly get overwhelmed with information and possibilities. Not that I blame them…there’s a lot of sessions on a load of different tools, ideas, theories, and just plain cool stuff! Add on top of that all the resources for all the sessions and anyone would quickly become overwhelemed.

The problem is once overwhelemed the brain stops processing information, you stop learning, and things go down hill from there.

Part of it is the schedule of conferences. Funny how we continue to talk about schools changing yet most conferences continue to look very much the same as they did __ years ago (I’ll let you fill in the date).

We know we need time to process information and we tell ourselves during the conference that we’ll take time to reflect once the conference is over, but the reality is very few people actually do. You get on your plane, you get back to life and the notes from the sessions, the resources, are left for “another day”.

What if we started building time into conferences to reflect? What if…..much like we talk about in schools….we cut back on the content….and up the learning…the depth, the idea generation. What if instead of 10 sessions there were 5?

What if we cut half the sessions and then added “Reflection, Unconference, Conversation” sessions throughout the conference to build in the time to process, reflect, and go deep in new learning during the conference itself? What if we made conversations the focus not the content (My EQ for my session: How do we make the most of our time face to face when content is free and avalible to all?).

This has always been the focus of the Learning 2.00x conference that I helped to start in Shanghai and continues. Each year the best feedback we get is “don’t stop the conversations”.

We educators need to feel OK with taking time to stop, reflect, and allow our brians to be silent. Allow our brains to process the information.

Run Keeper in BostonOn Thursday at BLC I started feeling the anxiouty catching up to me. New links, new things to think about, and feedback on my own sessions had pushed me to the edge. So I skipped a session and went for a 5 mile run along the Charles River….the best 40 minutes of the whole conference was that run.

It wasn’t the run itself (although it felt good to leave the hotel) but it was the thoughts and ideas that were flying through my head….I didn’t want to stop running…I was processing, thinking, and preparing my next steps. My brain needed the rest, needed the time. When I got back to the conference I just felt better, more relaxed, more focused and energized.

Do we give ourselves permission to reflect? Do we give ourselves time to play?  If not we leave conferences not knowing where to start.

Yes, we tell ourselves we’ll do it later, we’ll “get to it” but how many times do we actually get to it? Can we build time into the conference schedule to allow people to reflect, to use that valuble time with others thinking and learning with us in a very productive way? Can we use the time at conferences to make global connections, meet each other face to face? Can a conference help facilitate us to step out of our comfort zone and have a conversation with someone new?

Maybe I’m way off….maybe this isn’t a good use of school conference time. Maybe we’re suppose to be professional enough to reflect on our own time, to process on our own time?

I’m not sure if this is the right answer, but it kills me when I’m presenting the last session on the last day and I have conversations with more then a few educators who are saying “I don’t know where to start”, “There’s to much to do”, or worse yet just break down and cry because they’re so overloaded and feel like they had to go to every session, use every moment to it’s fullest poteintal and for some reason we view that as being in sessions and not by ourselves in deep reflection.

I just hope we all give ourselves permission to reflect at conferences, during the school day, throughout life. Reflection is a very important part of learning…and we need to give ourselves permission to do it more often.

As I’m rolling out the PD announcements I can’t leave out my most looked forward to conference of this summer. I’m honored to be this years Keynote at the Laptop Institute in Memphis this summer. A whole conference dedicated to 1:1 classrooms. Besides keynoting I’ll also be doing somewhere between 4 and 6 break out sessions. We’re gonna get geekie with it! 

While you’re there…also have a look at the pre-conference sessions. If your school is going 1:1 garunteed you can find a pre-conference that will fit your needs. There’s only about 5 I want to attend. 

Just wrapping up from ITSC11 in Portland and a previous conference send me a link to a survey from participants. This one frustrated me a bit:

Here’s the thing…first of all I’m never going to run a session that goes “Click here, now click here, now type here” I’m sorry, that’s not my style and if that is the reason your coming to a session at a conference then you’re telling me you are not an active motivated learner. That’s as bad as kids coming into our classrooms and saying “I don’t want to think, just tell me what to do, what to learn so I can learn it.”

Learners take responsibility for their learning and me telling you to click here, then click here isn’t going to help you learn it because the learning is out of context anyway. How many times have you had previous show you how to do something only to go to do it a couple days later and not remember? Learning does not happen if there is no context for the learning to take place.

I think the other thing that bothers me about these comments (this isn’t the first, and I’m sure not the last) is in every presentation I start by giving everyone permission to be off task and do what they need to do as a learner. If you want to click, go click, go learn. I never expect you to listen, or be active with what I’m saying. If what I’m saying isn’t motivating you, isn’t pushing you, isn’t what you need as a learner then that’s my fault not yours and go be off task. 

On the other end of the spectrum of course you have educators like intrepidteacher in this reflective blog post about a resent conference who is frustrated that many sessions are still doing the click here, then click here type workshops.

So here it is:

If you are looking for a presentation that is all about the tool and has nothing to do with the pedagogy or how and why you would use it…I’m not your man.

If you want a presentation where people just sit and get and don’t want to take responsibility for their own learning….I’m not your man.

That doesn’t mean we won’t “play” or “dabble” with technology. At ITSC we played with blogs for 2 hours, but people were free to click where they wanted to and taught themselves the software. I answered questions, led discussions, supported people 1-on-1, but other than pointing people in the right direction they had to learn it on their own.

What is the role of a conference? As conferences try and redefine themselves, try to stay relavent in a world where content is free and open. They become places of connections, discussions, and motivation. We still need conferences, not for the “stuff” but for the ability to come together with others and learn with them through conversations. 

I’m waiting for the conference that has no sessions, has no structure. But instead is just a specific time and place for people to come together and connect, discuss and learn.

The problem: Try to sell that conference to the powers-that-be. 🙂

seattle
SunSet from Condo in seattle

Yawn…..stretch…..and slowly pulling myself back into the real world after almost three weeks of vacation that included little time on the computer and a lot of time with friends and family. The way holidays should be.

The big technology gift this year actually went to my wife. Her sister bought her the new Kindle which is perfect for her. She lugged 5 books home for vacation…now all of those will fit in this tiny little device. 

So the new year is off to a great start. Flight back to Bangkok was uneventful (which is a good thing when flying) and I’m all set for the next two weeks and my reverse instruction experiment that I blogged about here. I actually have 6 teachers that I’ll be working with over the next two weeks. You’ll be seeing a lot of blog posts reflecting on how this is going.

If you haven’t actually been to the site in awhile you might want to stop by and check out the new look. The home page is my favorite pulling in the lasted Tweeted articles from the blog. Thanks to Alec and the team at Folliovision for helping to design the new site. Have a look around and see what you think. Still working on a few sidebar and menu options but for the most part, this will be the look for 2011.

Free Stuff

The real reason why you clicked on this post. 🙂

RunKeeper Pro free through January 

runkeeper
 

My wife and I have been into running these past few months and I have to say that this iPhone / Android App has gone a long way in keeping us motivated. RunKeeper uses the GPS on your smartphone to plot how far, fast and the pace of your run. It then uploads the data to the RunKeeper website where you can keep track of how you’re doing. My wife loves the cute little e-mails she gets when she has hit a new goal such as “Longest Distance”, or “Best Time”, or “Best Month”. She also loves the fact she can see right away how far she ran and view the route on her phone (HTC Desire, OS Android).

Of course I like the geekier site of the app. The ability to share your run on Facebook or Twitter as soon as you finish, and with the Pro version (Free through January) you can connect to a playlist on your iPhone and have it give you verbal cues when you’ve ran a certain distance or time. On the website you can create a “Street Team” or running partners to keep you motivated…..a great social-networking feature!

I know a lot of people set new workout goals for themselves in the new year (me included) and thought I’d throw this out there as a way to make running, walking, or whatever your activity a little more fun!

Link to Android App
Link to iTunes iPhone App  

Win a Free iPad

itsc 2011 logo 300x64

In February I’ll be flying to Portland and presenting at the ISTC 2011 conference in Portland, OR. One of the best education technology conferences in the Northwest and I am always grateful for the opportunity to go back to the Pacific Northwest to talk with educators in my “homeland”.

This year the conference is giving away 5 iPads! The crazy part is you don’t even have to register for the conference to be in the running to get one. They’ve already given away two so you have a chance to win one of the final three. The game is pretty simple. Enter to win an iPad by following these directions:

  1. Follow @itscpdx on Twitter
  2. Tweet the “message of the day” each day to enter that week’s drawing
  3. One (1) tweet, each day, gets you one entry into that week’s contest.
  4. Enter up to five (5) times for each week’s drawing by tweeting each message of the day, Monday through Friday.
  5. Tweeting more than once a day does not increase your chances of winning.

Complete Rules Here

It’s going to be a great conference so if you’re in the area join us!  

$25 Off BLC 11

blc11 150x53OK….so not free but a discount on my favorite conference of the summer. I don’t know how Alan November and his team do it but every year they have by far the best keynote presenters of any conference I’ve gone to….and the Keynoters are just the start. I love everything about this conference. The location, the size (right around 1000 people), the passion of the participants. I’m excited that I’ve been invited back for a third year to this conference and as a token for reading this blog you can save $25 when you register. Just enter the discount code JUBLC11 and you’ll be credited the discount. 

If you’re looking for one conference to go to this summer…this is the one!

Looking forward to a great 2011 and we’ll see where education takes us this year!

I find myself sitting here in Kota Kinabaul, Malaysisa reflecting on what has been a 5 country, I don’t know how many presentation, month. From Bahrain to Iowa with Asia and Australia in between, it’s been an amazing month of travel and I find myself thinking and reflecting on all I’ve been talking about and learning along the way.

So here’s my brain dump of themes that keep emerging for me:

The future is mobile

Whether in the heartland of America, or the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, moble phones are the future of connectivity. We’re also seeing this with Apple’s iPad and the ability to connect to a 3G connection. My guess….every mobile device in 3 years will have the built in ability to connect via a celluar network. We’re already doing this, but it will just become part of the hardware of every mobile device. What this will do to/for places like Africa and a large part of the developing word I can only imagine…….but it excites me.

Society expects us to be connected

I’ve been preaching this everywhere this month as it came out of the TED Talk I did back in September. i think we need to stop making excuses for all of us spending to much time connected and just realize this is now the world we live in. Once we own this fact then we can start having some deep discussions around how do we teach in this new society, how do we communicate, and how do we live in a world that is constantly connected? We continue to have conversations about being “balanced” and I agree that we need to find ways to get off the computer and get reconnected with nature. But balance in the term of 50/50 is not going to happen and it hasn’t been that way for a long time. TVs are in our homes, gaming systems have been around now for 30 years, and we all have a cell phone or soon will. We are now in a time where being connected is the norm and being disconnected is not. We need to make this shift in our thinking. We need to consiously think about disconnecting, taking trips with no connective devices, which goes again societies rules right now and that’s what makes it difficult. A goal of every family should be to take 1 trip a year with no connective device. The only screen that should be allowed is a GPS. Everything else stays at home. I’m not talking just about the kids I’m talking the whole family which is where parents start shaking their heads. They think kids should do this but not them…….and that is not setting the example we need. Disconnecting is good, it’s healthy, and we need to model that.

Standards are past their prime

Here comes the tomatos! This recent post by Clarence Fisher just drives home the point for me. Standards can’t keep up in a constantly changing landscape that no one can predict what the content is students will need in the future. When content is free and open we need to focus on skills, concepts and dispositions. Content based outcomes after 2nd grade are useless and continue to change faster than the curriculum review cycles of our schools. I don’t know how many times in the past 5 years I’ve heard “We’ll fix that in our next curriculum review cycle” meanwhile for 3, 4, or 5 years, depending on your review cycle, we’re teaching stuff we don’t believe in or know is not relavent to students in a digital, always on socieity.

Using my school as an example….I beleive the only outcomes we need for any lesson are these factors that my school has agreed upon:

Learning is the primary focus of our school and we recognize learning as a life-long adventure. We value meaningful learning where students construct enduring understanding by developing and applying knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Increased understanding is evidenced by students who:

– Explain its relevance

– Describe how it connects to or conflicts with prior learning

– Communicate it effectively to others

– Generalize and apply it effectively to new situations

– Reflect critically on their own and other’s learning

– Ask questions to extend learning

– Create meaningful solutions

If every lesson, everything we did with kids focused on this, we’d be much better off and we’d return true power of teaching back to teachers.

Socially Connected World

We live in a socailly connected word. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or the next thing that comes along there is no turning back. As social-networks become part of our culture they are affecting the way we do bussiness (foursquare) the way we look for jobs and employees (92% of empolyers now use or plan to use social-networks) and how we communitcate with our friends and relatives. We know that learning is social, we know kids are going to need to understand how to get into college, or get a job being part of a social-network. So let’s start using them rather than continute to make excuses for not. FYI “We MIGHT get sued.” is an excuse.

Conferences Handouts are Changing

I use to use my own wiki for handouts. This year I haven’t had to use it once. Each conference I’ve gone to has had their own wiki, or site to put digital material one….well all except this admin conference I’m at now. But even I’m finding the wiki hard to keep up on, so I’ve moved to just creating a tag or using a tag I already have in Diigo and just giving that as the link to resources. For example, my talk on why we should be teaching students Facebook (read that as social-networking) in schools tomorrow is just using my Diigo tag of Facebook. Easy to update and I can update the list as the presentation is going on. I think this also shows a difference in my presentation style where I’m being much more convesation based and less giving of content. You can view the content when you want/have time. I only have you for 60 minutes and we need to have a discussion on why you aren’t doing these things, or what your fears are.

Social Media Community Manager

In many of the conversations I’ve been having someone also brings up “Who’s job is it to monitor all this stuff? I mean the schools Facebook Page, the Wikipedia entry, the Twitter account, the YouTube account, etc, etc.?

This a great question and my response is, and will be tomorrow to admin here in Asia, that we need a new position in our schools. We need Social Media Community Managers. A quick Google Search brought up some great job discriptions that any school could use to get started. I might write my own for schools when I get a change. This isn’t a new position in the business world, but is a new concept to education. I do think it’s time that we hire people or put someone in charge of managing our online school communities. Someone who has deep knowledge of social-networks and can get the most value out of them for schools.

Well…that’s what has been on my mind this last month…..feel better actually writing it down so I don’t forget. There might be more, but I can feel the jet lag settling in and I’ve gotta talk about Facebook and Twitter tomorrow with administartors……we’re gonna have some fun!

Learning 2.010 Learning 2.010ended 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.

FacilitatorsFind 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. People were able to go to 4 sessions on Prezi if they wanted to discuss and play with that tool in a collaborative environment.

Hosting this conference in Shanghai, China also has it’s challenges. It’s hard to believe when we ran our first conference in 2007, we were one of the first educational conferences to fully incorporate Twitter into the conference. Now 3 years later Twitter is blocked in China and only those die hard twitters who found ways around the firewall were able to post updates. Still #learning2cn had a pretty good following, but I think there have been more updates to the hashtag now that the conference is over and we’ve all returned to our unblocked countries.

It did however make us be create and come up with other ways to get the community at the conference involved. Darren Kuropatwa introduced us to 12seconds.tv a site that allows you to post 12 second videos. We created a conference channel and used it to capture thoughts and give away prizes at the conference.

It’s only fitting that a student created video ended up winning the grand prize…a Barnes & Noble Nook Reader.

12 Second Movie- Made by Alan (CISS student) on 12seconds.tv

There were a lot of great moments and, as the above video shows, once again I think it was our inclusion of students throughout the conference that will be remembered by many. They helped organize unconference sessions, ran unconference sessions, were part of our cohorts and were treated just like any other participant throughout the conference (alcohol excluded). In the end we had some 50+ students join us over the three day conference and the only complaint from participants was they wish we had more students. Note: we did not limit the amount of students that could come….just trying to find students to give up their weekend to hang with a bunch of teachers is not easy. 🙂

As I reflect on the conference as a whole I think we did a pretty good job. I’m always my hardest critic and there are things I would change for the next one….if there is a next one…..and if I’m involved in it. But people I talked to throughout the conference seemed excited, engaged and on more than one occasion I was told this was the best conference they had ever gone to. I just hope…pray….that what was started at this conference will be taken back to schools throughout Asia and the world and effect learning in some deep and meaningful ways. If that happens….then the four sleepless nights were well worth it!

(Part 1 of a series of blog posts to be made into a free PDF. Your feedback, ideas and thoughts are critical!)

The Purpose

The purpose of this PDF is to help schools looking at adopting Web Based Portfolios (WBP) as a form of assessment with students over a period of time. By adopting a web-based platform as a container in which to house portfolio content, schools give students a web-based vehicle with endless possibilities to create, collaborate and communicate their learning to the world.

All-In-One Assessment Vehicle

Web Based Portfolios have been gaining ground in recent years as the skills needed to create digital content have become less complex. Remember the days when a digital portfolio meant courses in Dreamweaver or some other programing language? Those days are behind us as the tools of the web have taken over and simplified things to a point where a true Web Based Portfolio is possible.

In the past, schools, teachers and even students had to decide what their portfolio was going to reflect. Was it going to be a portfolio that showed assessment for learning or assessment of learning? The decision had to be made because in a paper-based world you just did not have enough space to physically hold all of the content to show both. In fact, in a paper-based world many teachers and schools started out envisioning their portfolios as a way to reflect on assessment for learning. In many cases, due to physical requirements in holding the amount of paper it took to show the learning process, many teachers and students ended up creating portfolios that showed assessment of learning. When a choice has to be made because of limited space to keep a rough draft or a final copy students will keep the final copy, and so will teachers.

WBPs if nothing else, solve this age old portfolio issue. With the cost of servers and web storage continuing to drop, creating endless storage space for students to show the learning process and allowing teachers to assess for learning is cheap and getting less expensive every day.

When students have endless space, a WBP not only shows assessment for learning, but also assessment of learning. We now have a vehicle that has the space to allow students and teachers to have the best of both worlds all in one place and the ability to track learning over great lengths of time.

Learning Over Time

The biggest issue a WBP solves is an issue that, up until now, we could not even talk about because we did not have a vehicle that allowed us to even have the discussion.

When we talk about assessing learning over time, or tracking learning over time, historically schools have done a good job of tracking assessment for learning year by year. Students come into 3rd grade, keep a portfolio of their work, and at the end of that year take their work home with them. The next year they come back as 4th graders and repeat the process all over again.

Education never had a system that allowed educators to look at learning year after year other than maybe a few teacher picked samples to go into a student cumulative folder. Of course these cumulative folders are better at giving us a snapshot and focus on assessment of learning not for learning in the long run.

With a WBP that belongs to the student, controlled by the student, created by the student, education now has a vehicle that can extend beyond space and time of a school year. Once a student creates a WBP and owns that space, the assessment for learning over a long period of time becomes natural. Students have one spot, with unlimited space to create, gather, and reflect on their own learning.

Think of the possibilities as a 7th grade teacher if you had students who were in your school system for four years and were able to look back at how they progressed as a reader. Students would have the ability to reflect on their growth as a mathematician from 3rd grade to 7th grade. The power of reflecting on one’s own learning across grade levels not just within them is something that until WBP, was a difficult if not an impossible task. I can imagine a day when a senior in high school has a body of knowledge all in one place that is his or her learning journey. Think of the wealth of information that would be contained within that portfolio. Think of the wealth of knowledge for the school to be able to track learners over time looking at a particular student as a learner.

This would never be possible in a paper-based world. The amount of information, knowledge, and understanding that would be in that one portfolio would not be able to be stored in a paper-based world…now think of all the students in your school or district. The paper-based world can not compete.

WBPs not only solve some of our biggest frustrations as educators but they create new opportunities that we haven’t even thought of tapping into yet.

Student Ownership and Conferences

A critical shift in moving to a WBP system is the notion that students own the portfolio. This, I believe, is a huge shift in the way we view portfolios. For many educators this will be a scary step. When students own their own learning, when they are able to reflect on their own learning, have some choice on what their portfolio looks like, acts like, and when they are able to update it anytime and anywhere, the control of the content shifts from the teacher to the student.

Otherwise known as student-centered learning, students become the true drivers of the content that is put within their WBP. The WBP reflects who they are as a learner. With the guidance of the teacher, students make choices on what learning artifacts deserve more attention than others and find ways to make those artifacts stand out (assessment of learning). In this way you have assessment of learning embedded within, surrounded by assessment for learning, which creates a learning assessment ecosystem that is rich with data, content, and reflections.

Many portfolio initiatives in schools stem from Student-Led Conferences. The Student-Led Conference, or conference format in which the student and student learning is the center of the conference, have gained momentum in the last decade and usually include a portfolio of learning.

As an elementary teacher I know the drill: Conferences are fast approaching and you realize you haven’t had the students working on their p
ortfolios for the upcoming conferences. You drop everything, and for two weeks focus strictly on creating portfolios. 3 reading examples with reflections, 2 writing pieces with reflections, 2 math papers, a spelling test, a piece of art, and the list goes on.

Portfolios are created for conferences, not necessarily to truly reflect student learning. WBPs allow content to easily be collected throughout the school year. Students might take a picture of their work, or something that represents their work, and put it in their portfolio. They might reflect on ten assignments, create and embed two videos, record themselves reading twice and write a reflection about it and upload all of it to their WBP.

Come conference time, the student creates a new category or tag called “conference 2010”. They then categorize or tag the content they want to show at the conference and are able to choose from a wealth of information-anything they want to show. They might in fact, show a sample of writing from 5th grade and one from 7th grade, demonstrating to their parents how they have grown as a writer over time. Or they may choose an audio recording of themselves reading as a 3rd grader not pronoucing their Rs correctly and then in 7th grade reading with emotion and having a great laugh about how far they have come and what they have worked on as a reader over time.

When we separate the WBP from the conference, it becomes a true vehicle of assessment for learning. With a WBP, educators can think about learning over time, in ways never before possible. We can find ways for students to deeply reflect on their own learning and allow students to truly own their learning. WBPs not only solve many of the issues that paper-based portfolios had, they create whole new assessment and reflection opportunities educators have only dreamed of.

So let me cut through the smoke and mirrors and really tell you why this coming week is important to me.

Simple….on Tripit.com I’m trailing David Warlick in the number of countries I’ve traveled to this year. As an International Educator….that’s just wrong! 😉

I won’t pass David this coming week but I’ll tie him going into the opening of Baseball Season and we all know from there it’s a whole new ball game.

http://ade.ismac.org/ADE_Asia_Institute_2010/Welcome_files/shapeimage_2.png

This coming week I’ll start my travels in Singapore where I’ll be brainwashed attending the Apple Distinguished Educators Asia Institute. I was suppose to attend here in Bangkok last year, but thanks to the #yellowshirts shutting down the airport the institute was moved to Singapore and I couldn’t have left if I wanted. This year #redshirts are making noise but the airport is clear for now.

I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to this Institute or not. I’ve been put off by the last couple of conferences that I have gone to strictly as a participant and not as a presenter. Maybe it’s the conference? Maybe it’s me? I’m just hoping #ADE2010 can pull me out of this conference funk I’m in. Of course I’m most excited for the conversations with other ADEers coming in from all over Asia to learn together…that is always a blast!

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Next Wednesday I leave Singapore and head to Philippians for the EARCOS Teachers Conference. I’ll be doing a pre-conference workshop and four conference sessions (non of which I’m prepared for at this point). It’s always great to see all my EARCOS friends from the region and have some great conversations around technology and the obstacles we all are trying to overcome in our home countries. Whether it is discussions about site blockage in China, or why not use pirated software when it’s everywhere and cheap, the discussions are always great. You’ll be able to follow that conference on Twitter at #ETC2010.

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Lastly it’s a late night flight Sunday back to Bangkok, straight to a hotel downtown and up early Monday for an all day institute I’ll be leading for the NESA Teachers Conference. I’m most excited about this all day institute for two reasons.

1. NESA was were I gave my first ever presentation back in 2002 at this exact conference in Bangkok. It’s been such a journey presenting over the past couple of years and to be invited back to the conference I started at is….well….it’s an honor. At the time I was a 5th grade teacher in Saudi Arabia. That seems like a life time ago!

2. My day long institute is on Creating and Teaching in Blended Classrooms. A new presentation/workshop for me where my hope is well get into some deep discussions about teaching and learning in blended classroom environments. With Moodle (which is widely used in the NESA region) as our backbone my hope is that we will all learn how to create, manage, and use Moodle and Web 2.0 tools effectively in a Blended Classroom environment.

So over the next week you’ll be getting updates from these places as I learn with other educators. My favorite part of conferences are the conversations I have with others, and the ideas and time I get to blog my thinking. Whether in an airplane or in a hotel room, I seem to always find time to blog during conferences.