Thursday, March 14, 2013

Highlights of the Flat Classroom Leadership Workshop

Last weekend I went to Japan to take part in the Flat Classroom Conference.  It was fast and furious, and showed me just how much can be accomplished when we know there are deadlines.  Below are some of the highlights and take aways for me:
  • On the first day the FCC opened with short presentations from people and organizations who are helping with the clean-up in northern Japan 2 years after the earthquake and tsunami.  I wasn't aware that there was still so much still to be cleared and how many people are still in very temporary housing.  It was stressed that the mental health of the survivors was delicate - so many have lost so much.  This was a great introduction to the theme of the conference "How can we help each other?"
  • I liked the way that on Day 1 students worked in teams and teachers also worked in teams and that we got to pitch our ideas to the different groups.  Our first challenge was to actually identify a problem, and then to come up with a solution.  As students rotated around I heard some amazingly simple and some incredibly complex ideas.  I thought some of the best and most practical ideas were those that decided to start small and then scale up.
  • I enjoyed the bootcamp sessions on making soundscapes and using the editor in YouTube.
  • On Day 2 I really liked my colleague Sharon Brown-Peter's presentation about the impact that the Girl Effect movie had on a student at ASB and how that girl went on to work with a very poor Indian girl from a slum who is supporting her entire family from her earnings as a factory worker.  The documentary she made about this girl's day has recently been picked up by CNN.  The Girl Effect movie has been around for a couple of years but is certainly worth watching again.
  • Another video that I want to share here was made by one of the teacher groups called 4+1.  I think one of the reasons I found it so interesting is because one of our teachers has just started 20% time with her class.  Her philosophy is: 
    The world is changing at an incredibly fast pace and that change needs to be reflected in the classroom.  She believes that students need to ask questions, access and analyze the answers, apply the learning and assess the process and she has developed a unit that focuses on information fluency.  One day a week students will work on this project and will be taught research skills and shown a variety of different ways that they can share their understanding.  The short video made by the 4+1 teacher team fits perfectly with what Claire is doing in this project:
  • I enjoyed the Kung Fu 2.0.  This was a version of speed-geeking and the aim was to share a tool with another person.  We did this in 2 lines and shared with the person opposite us, then the lines moved on and the next person shared a tool back with us.
  • On Day 3 I enjoyed being in a group with both students and teachers discussing some of the emerging technologies being identified by the Horizon Report K-12.  Because I knew I was giving a presentation to parents the following week on games and gamification, I decided to join this group.  It was really good to work with students in creating a pitch, and good for us to step outside of our teacher roles and actually listen to the "experts" (the students) talking about these technologies.

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