February 2010

Go to Annual Conference WebsiteFor a variety of reasons, I didn’t blog quite as much as I did last year, or even as much as I expected to this year.   This was in large part because I struggled for three days to get quality wifi access, a topic on which I am quite frustrated.   But putting that aside, the (very!) good news is that there were  many other bloggers at the conference this year, and they contributed many excellent posts.   (let me express here a huge appreciation to Chris Bigenho for organizing everything at  http://naisac10.wordpress.com/)

I am highlighting here my top ten list of great blog posts about the event (in no particular order).

1. Jamie Baker (shared leadership) on Irshad Manji.  I knew nothing of this speaker before this conference, but I would agree she is a very important force in the world today, insisting on freedom of expression, and the independence of conscience in the world today.

2. The NAIS website post on Arianna Huffington‘s speech.”Huffington urged us to let our children know that “changing the world needs to be on their ‘to do’ lists.” (more…)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A favorite session for me at NAIS 2010 was Tina Seelig’s session, Innovation as an Extreme Sport. (The video is above is not her actual session, but it does introduce you to her).   It was terrific to see her reframe the practice of innovation away from the limitations of the science lab, or robotics workshop, and take it into the world as a collaborative, fast moving, and competitive activity.

This post is not going to try to recapitulate the narrative of her presentation, (there is a great version of that here, and I highly recommend it to those who missed the session) but rather comment upon it with some highlights.

1.  Myself, I was conflicted about Seelig’s tone and attitude at first.  I loved her energetic slides, but it seemed she was making light of this important human quality– that she was reducing it when she called it an extreme sport (think skateboarding).  But as I sit with it, I am broadening my world-view: there is still much to me that needs to be treated seriously about innovation, but there is an absolutely fine place for fun and levity.   (more…)

You have to forgive me: I tend to gush when I get excited.  And I have to apologize: I could not write all that I wanted to write, because of struggles powering my laptop– this facility is deeply lacking in outlets.

This was a really, really excellent presentation; I believe it may be perhaps the Best ever in my experience at NAIS.   The message of this event could not have been more directed to the most important thing in our work, that school must become (again) a place of living, breathing, and experiencing the active work of learning, of learning by doing, and that our students will be best prepared for their challenging futures in schools where they are tackling problems and delivering products.

I certainly appreciated and admired very much the fine words of Google’s Megan Smith and Stanford’s Shelley Goldman; they offered great enthusiasm, great wisdom,  and great encouragement.

But for me, it is the emergence here for NAIS of the very excellent New Technology High School  and Network, and its sometimes associated organization, Edutopia, as a a true, and enormously important, force to be reckoned with. (more…)

The following is a report from the NAIS President’s Breakfast and Annual Meeting.

Marcia Sprewitt opens with a pledge to focus upon sustainability, and to make no apologies for doing so, for our schools, and for NAIS itself.   And on that basis, she speaks of the controversy with ISM regarding financial aid processing and the competition between the two outfits, and defends the NAIS position against the ISM protests that ISM should be able to advertise via NAIS channels its SSS competing product.

Membership report:  NAIS now has 1399 members, a slight increase from 1385 a year ago; “NAIS is retaining 99% of its membership, which speaks to our value proposition.”   More membership growth is anticipated. (more…)

This was a great session, and my kudos and appreciation to the presenters:  CWRA (College and Work Readiness Assessment) is a powerful tool for educational reform, and an important vehicle for bringin problem-based learning into our classrooms.  It isn’t just a measurement device, I increasingly realize, but a tool that stirs the entire pot of a school culture toward more authentic assessment throughout a school. Below is my narrative of the session:

Today’s presentation, entitled Collaboration for 21st century Success, features a panel of representatives from schools actually using the CWRA.

  1. Rob Evans and the Families First Session
  2. CWRA information session
  3. Visiting with Friends
  4. Participating in the NAIS AC online community
  5. Tony Wagner
  6. Pat Bassett
  7. Klingenstein reception
  8. Thought Leaders Summit: Building Schools for a Digital Age
  9. Tina Seelig: Innovation as an Extreme Support

1. Rob Evans and Families First Session: My conference will begin Wednesday at 1 with attending the Families First session, along with my wife Carman.   (more…)

Yes– our students must practice to learn, they must do to learn, and they should also play to learn, as this terrific Op-Ed in the Times by a college psychology lecturer argues.

For the most part, this blog, entitled 21 (for 21st century) k-12, for k-12 education, focuses upon high school, and to a slightly lesser extent, middle school.  But I am a recent (recovering?) former K-8 (actually PreSchool-8) Head, and I certainly care deeply for 21st century elementary education too.

Engels piece, entitled Playing to Learn, opens with the anxiety that I too share: that too much of the “reform” coming from the Obama-Duncan adminstration focuses on learning broadly, not deeply, and not in the ways students best learn.

Our current educational approach — and the testing that is driving it — is completely at odds with what scientists understand about how children develop during the elementary school years and has led to a curriculum that is strangling children and teachers alike. (more…)

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