Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 2 - SXSWedu - Part I

Overwhelmed does not even begin to describe it. So thrilled to have had the opportunity to be here and hear these brilliant people speak.  It's amazing and inspiring to me the effect one person can have and the wave of change one person can start.

Session 1- 10 Hands on Tools to Boost Creativity with Charles Wood, Professor at University of Tulsa.  Absolutely the most transferable session into my classroom immediately.  I'll share these later :)

Session 2- Disrupting Education: Master Apprentice Approach with Jeff Sandefer, Acton Academy.

  • Existing system is ill-designed and immoral.  What comes next?
  • The previous system was a "learn to know" system.  Now we need to shift to "learn to do and learn to be" and the learn to know will come along as a free gift.
  • 4 essential questions:  Who am I and where am I going?  What tools and skills will I need and which will I master?  How will affirm me and hold me accountable?  How do I prove what I can do?  
  • Students are on a hero's journey filled with quest based projects. Students have the power to choose, set and enforce rules.
     7 lessons Sandefer says he has learned: 
  1. Every child is a genius (has exceptional ability to do something). "When you believe they will change the world, they believe they will change the world."
  2. Multi-age classrooms are a blessing.
  3. You curate.  Let them choose.
  4. Ask "Is this your best work?"  If not, students try again.
  5. Never answer a question.  Ever.  - Sandefer spoke about the fact that as students ask more questions, their questions become less thoughtful and interesting.  My HS physics teacher answered every question I asked with another question.... it frustrated me...but I learned a lot. 
  6. Engaged learners learn at a 10X rate.
  7. Our job is to act as Gamemakers (Hunger Games, anyone?) -  Set up incentives and challenges and invite them to play.
"I hope the reformers succeed, but I chose to disrupt" - Jeff Sandefer

Session 3 - Cognitive Science: Next Ed Revolution with Peter NilssonDeerfield Academy

My job is to enable students to learn.  I left A&M feeling reasonably prepared to do.  Yet, the brain is where learning happens... and I know very little about the brain.  
  • The art of delivery of information should be ahead of the engine that powers it.  Insight into the science of learning should go hand in hand with the art of teaching
  • Cognitive model: Attention, Encoding, Storage, Retrieval 
  • Attention: As a teacher, I must be engaging. Attention is the filter through which my kids view their world and knowing them allows me access.  "It's all about the choreography of people's attention. Attention is like water. It flows. It's liquid. You create channels to (direct) it, and you hope that it flows the right way." - Apollo Robbins, professional pickpocket-  just change (direct) to divert.  
  • Encoding: Provide multisensory experiences, Attach learning to prior knowledge, and Organize material for easy retrieval.   "The ideas we latch on to are the ones that have been percolating in our minds for all time" - John McPhee
  • Storage: Association strengthens memory, intensity influences memory.  I must provide ample time for students to consolidate and integrate ideas.  
    Sleeping Hour 1-2 : Memory consolidation in hippocampus
    Sleeping Hour 2-6: Movement to cortex for long term storage
    Sleeping Hour 6-9: Memory rehearsal in cortex- improves memory performance up to 20%
  • Retrieval: Ideas are strengthened by association, intensity, and repetition.  I must provide students with regular retrieval opportunities.  
Nilsson ended by speaking on the art of teaching and the science of learning.  Teachers must understand the needs of students but also the processes of thinking and learning and mechanics of education.  We must be responsive, yet methodical and empathetic, yet firm.  We teach people.  People are not objects to be maximized.  The act of learning however is a process, a process that can be maximized.  Our job as teachers is to blend the art and sciences of teaching and learning.    

Book recommendations (I will be reading these, Nilsson has me hooked!):  Brain Rules by John Medina, Mindset by Carol Dweck, Drive by Dan Pink, Choke by Sian Beilock

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