The mediocre teacher tells,
The good teacher explains,
The superior teacher demonstrates,
The great teacher inspires.
William Arthur Ward
I have been inspired by great speakers!
This week I had the opportunity to attend one of Australia’s largest technology in education conferences, Edu-Tech 2013 in Brisbane. I was privileged to be able to listen to keynotes from Daniel Pink, Ewan Mcintosh, Sal Khan, Alan November, Stephen Heppell, Dr Gary Stager and Sir Ken Robinson as well as a number of workshop sessions.
Daniel Pink – What the Science of Motivation Can Teach Us About High Performance
So, what does motivate me?
Dan discussed what motivates people and the idea that an if … then reward system works fine for simple and easy tasks but not so well for complex or long term goals. He has discovered that what does work is autonomy, mastery and purpose. People need to be self driven, be able to master a topic and they need to understand the purpose of what they are doing in order to be motivated to do well. How often do we allow students to really master a topic before we decide the class has to move on? Do we allow students to really own their learning? Do we show or even tell them why they need to know something?
– allow my students more autonomy and chances to master something. They need to be given time to work on something that is of their choosing, something that they are interested in and then be given time to master this topic. They need to be responsible for this time by presenting their activities to the class. Dan called this Fedex Days or 10% time.
– to keep in mind Dan’s challenge of explaining why more, having less conversations about the what and more about the why.
First key note down and already so much to absorb. Next key note was Sal Khan. Sal is the creator of a website Khan Academy which is a site that includes video of experts explicitly teaching common school topics. I have started to use Khan Academy in my maths class and was excited be able to hear Sal speak.
Sal was an inspiring man who spoke about his journey in setting up this website as a not for profit organisation.
Sal’s goal is to provide a free, world class educate for anyone, anywhere, shouldn’t this be all our goals?
– to look into the teacher accounts and set up my class
– to redesign my weekly maths lessons to include the chance for the students to work at their own pace on a maths topic using Khan and monitor any changes in attitude, understanding and confidence, especially in my ‘high flyers’ and ‘low learners’.
Ewan McIntosh – Design Thinking for Genuine Epic-Scale Problem-Based Learning
I was on such a high after Sal’s inspiring speech and ready for more.
Next up was Ewan Mcintosh. Ewan’s speech complimented the morning address of Dan Pink and built on the idea of motivating students and allowing them to own their learning.
Ewan spoke about the 6 pillars of making learning interesting – the 3 R’s and 3 C’s.
Challenge – learners need to feel challenged. They need to fail and want to keep trying. Look at the way kids play video games. They always fail the first time but keep trying.
Choice – learners need to have a choice. A choice is between 3 and 20.
Collaborative – schools need to allow learners time to collaborate on things. They need to be able to talk through their ideas, gain feedback, problem solve with others and share their learning.
Respect – learners want respect for their ideas and their learning. They expect teachers to show respect for the things they do.
Responsibility – we need to let learners be responsible for their learning.
Real Life – learning needs to be real. They need to know why they are doing something and how it can make a difference to their life or the lives of others.
Ewan then went on to share ways that teachers can incorporate these pillars into their learning. He shared ideas such as making sure the learning is visible by having ‘I found it walls’ and ‘I wonder walls’ driven by the kids. My favourite idea was asking kids to think about questions as Googleable or nongooleable. Is that question a question that can be answered by google?
I would encourage you to look at his website for more great ideas of ways to build in creativity and project based learning into your program.
– talk to kids about Googleable and nongooleable questions
– make sure I give kids choices
– look at the notosh website for more ideas and use these ideas to plan more creative, challenging learning
Dr Gary Stager – The Creative Technology Revolution You Can’t Afford to Ignore
The Sylvia Show
By the time Gary Stager was due to speak it was 5:00pm and I had attended a number of workshops sessions, had a great lunch, spent time talking to a lot of exhibitors and entered every competition that I could find. After a 4:30am start the day before to catch the plane my body and mind were slowing down and I contemplated sneaking out early to go home. Boy, was I pleased I didn’t.
Gary’s message was let’s get kids creating. He spoke about the increase of Maker Fairs where people come together to make and create things. Adults work along side kids to create all sorts of things. Kids are allowed to be creative. Gary questioned if teachers are allowing this to happen in their classes. He said we need to get back to what use to happen in schools before we became driven by standards and questioned us to ask ourselves ‘How can I make the next 7 hours the best in this kids life’.
He shared with us two websites created by kids about the things that they have made: Look what Joey’s Making and The Sylvia Show. These kids are demonstrating high level, self directed learning but what happens when they go to school? Are they being allowed to continue to build their learning or being confided to the standard that the class is working on.
Gary shared the components of a good creative project:
It needs a good prompt, challenge or problem. The challenge should be short (fit on a post it note), not limited by teacher directions and not directly assessed (it either works or not).
Kids need access to appropriate materials.
They need sufficient time to master the challenge.
They need a supportive community.
Finally, he left us with this thought :
students never remember a spelling lesson but they will remember great projects that they have owned and felt successful completing.
Projects create memories.
– Although I see this need to add these lessons int schools the reality of meeting the curriculum is always there. How can I incorporate these ideas into my current curriculum areas? One of my focus areas this year is the new Geography curriculum so I am going to see if I can build these ideas and Ewan’s into my geography lesson planning.
– allow more time for the kids to create (even though it is messy!!!!)
Day one ended at 6:10pm. My head was full of ideas, thoughts, questions and challenges.
Stephen Heppell – What’s The Rage For The Next Year?
My Principal should be a little scared!
Stephen Heppell spoke a lot about learning spaces and the need for students to feel like their learning space is a space they want to be in and is a creative space. Learning spaces should be fun and kids should want to be in them. They should feel an ownership of their space.
I loved a picture of a sign an a classroom door that said Welcome to the classroom of the future – currently under construction.
This idea has been bothering me for a while now. I don’t even like my classroom at the moment. It is crowded, cluttered and boring and if I feel this way then what must the kids think. My problem has been how can I change it. I now realise that I need to start with the kids. I am going to let them come up with a plan and see what happens.
A couple of points that Stephen made about budget issues hit home. Let kids design the furniture, make somethings out of cardboard, design and cut out of MBF new table tops and paint them, turn old whiteboards into table tops just to name a few. Can’t wait to talk to kids about this and see what they come out with. Do we really need chairs and tables in the classroom?
I love this picture on twitter posted by Wes Warner
– Engaged readers don’t use these!
Twitter feed by Wes Warner
– Let the kids imagine, design and create a learning space that they want to be a part of.
– Empower students, trust them and watch them learn!
Suan Yeo – Head of Education at Google
Quotes and notes from Suan’s address:
‘You are never too young to change the world’
‘Capture the moment’
‘45% of google search queries are through mobile devices’
Education is not keeping up
‘Have classrooms really changed since 1970s?’
It’s now a five screen world – Google Glasses
Learning has to be anytime, any place.
The web is your school – go and learn!
Are we preparing our students for their future or our past!
Alan November – Implementing the flipped classroom in your school
Alan spoke about how we should be flipping our classrooms and how flipping is one of the first new pedagogical changes in education. He asked how many schools are just using technology as $1000 pencils and how simply adding a machine does not improve performance or outcomes.
He spoke about the need for children to question more and learn how to ask good questions. He even suggested that the best homework task is to ask a question everyday.
Alan spoke highly of Eric Mazur and discussed the idea of collaborative assessment. Having students complete a test individually, then working in a group to mark and justify their answers. The group has to hand up their combined test for marking. This collaboration and having to support their answers allow students to support each other and learn from each other.
He also spoke about the need to give students the chance to learn about topics that they are interested in and find ways to engage students in what they are learning.
– look into kids creating how to videos to share with other classes, create their own flipped videos
– use Khan Academy more for student learning
– have a look at maths train website for kid created videos
Sir Ken Robinson – Out of Our Mind, Learning to be Creative
Finally, we came to our last speaker, Sir Ken Robinson. Ken joined use via live stream from England at 2:00am his time.
Unfortunately, I did not take many notes because I was so absorbed in his talk – could have listened to him for ages.
Ken spoke about the purpose of education being economic, cultural, social and personal.
Economic because through gaining an education people are able to gain economic independence and as Ken said ‘we all want our children to be economically independent!’
Cultural because we need a board curriculum that gives weight to all areas.
Social because we need to help students engage with the world around them so that they can be active citizens.
And personal because everyone has their own interests, passions, life, etc.
However, he believes that we need to make education richer. We need to allow creativity to be a part of all students lives. Business is calling for creative people. People who can come up with new ideas, ask creative questions and build new things. He said that why businesses are asking for this education systems are focusing on standards, achieving high test results and an overloaded curriculum.
He spoke about how we can be in our element through doing things we love, being good at the things we love and being passionate.
What an amazing conference. I haven’t even included the great conversations I had on twitter and face to face, the exhibitors I spoke to or the break out sessions that I attended. It was a thought provoking and challenging two days. I have a lot of things that I would like to trial and writing this post is my way of setting the challenge to follow through with these.
For me the key messages of this conference were:
– trust the kids more
– give them a chance to actually master something and be successful
– students have to own, have choice and feel responsible for their learning
Look out on Monday kids!!