Discovering Treasures- 8/2/19
This past week, I completed another one of my summer learning goals, I attended #WISSIT19 for the second time. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are truly missing out. WISSIT stands for Washington International School's Summer Institute for Teachers. It happens at the end of July each year at the Washington International School in Washington D.C. At this amazing conference, Project Zero ideas are highlighted and brought to life. The three primary thoroughlines cover this week of learning are Building a Culture of Thinking, Educating for Global Competence, and Encouraging Creativity and Maker Thinking in Children.
Since this year was my second year at WISSIT, this year, I had the privilege of LEVELING UP and being in a second time group. Our hashtag was #LevelUpPZ and with that spirit, this week, I am sharing just a few of the precious treasures I uncovered while at the conference. The five treasures I am sharing were powerful and are just a snapshot of my learning and I hope they ignite some sparks for you too.
1. The impact of language in the classroom
On Monday afternoon, I had the privilege of going to Ron Ritchart's session on Language of the Classroom. This session was so illuminating and I learned so many things, but my biggest takeaway was about the language of initiative. The language we, as educators, use can either share messages that encourage student agency and perseverance or we can rescue them. Our attempts to rescue them are never without good intentions, but can lead our students to develop learned helplessness. This made me think and question this in my practice.
How can I promote more agency as a Tech Coach with both my staff and students?
2. Uncovering Stories Long Hidden
Wednesday is a highlight of WISSIT- it's museum day! This year, I got the amazing opportunity to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I had never been there before, but I will definitely be back. During our visit, we used 2 Thinking Routines- Beauty and Truth and Parts, Perspectives and Me as we examined exhibits on two floors. We learned to value depth over breadth.
These experiences taught me to spend more time considering the lessons that I don't know, stories that have been long hidden. It made me much more aware of my need to learn more stories and add this as an area for my own professional growth.
What stories can I learn from others to help build empathy in my practice?
3. Museums with a Digital Twist
My second museum visit this year was at the Freer Sackler gallery. There, we used a thinking routine called Looking 10 x 2 to examine two canteens. We had to closely examine them and list 10 things we noticed. After, our facilitators shared some informations about the canteens and had us repeat the process.
After debriefing this, they shared the Smithsonian Learning Lab site. If you haven't dug into this yet, you should! First of all, it's FREE! It includes all the Smithsonian's online collections, plus lesson resources, Project Zero thinking routines and much more. You can even curate your own collections for students or have them curate their own. It is easy to use and includes many interactive tools.
How can I best share this amazing tool with my staff and relate its potential impact?
4. Creating a New Story
On Tuesday, I attended the plenary session by Ron Ritchart. In this session, he discussed 10 Messages in Action for Cultures of Thinking. The third message he shared really resonated with me. To create a new story of learning, we must change the role of the student and teacher.
How can I, as a tech coach, both model and empower other teachers to take this risk and embrace new roles with other students?
5. Participatory Creativity
On Thursday, I attended Edward Clapp's session called Do It Together: An Exploration of Participatory Creativity in Maker Centered Learning Environments. I really enjoyed this session. It continued my exploration of creativity discussed in my 6/20/19 post Creative Reactions. We began this activity by doing a design challenge where we needed to build a contraception that could drop a ball from five feet as slowly as possible. We worked in teams to accomplish this task.
After the design challenge, we reflected. Edward Clapp shared a John Dewey quote that really resonated with me:
"Learning does not happen from experience but from reflecting on experience."
So that is exactly what we did. The reflection was deep and led to the next section where we learned more about the social nature of creativity.
Children are not creative- IDEAS are creative!
This led us to explore the biographies of ideas- this was a way of looking at creativity in a new way. I love how this incorporates all kinds of participatory creativity. If ideas build off one another, learning can be social in a myriad of ways: working collaboratively, iterating someone's prior work and many more ways. It made me think about Scratch's platform and how people are continuing to iterate others' work and of how on Twitter, educators are engaged in participatory creativity all the time.
How can I infuse more participatory creativity in my tech classes and in my work with my staff?
#WISSIT19 might conclude today, but the wealth of treasures I have found are still being discovered. Changing the story and empowering others to take agency over their learning is more than just a lesson from a conference. It is a springboard as we change the cultures of our schools and enable our schools to be future ready- to use blended learning to incorporate voice and choice, share our thinking, engage in creating, making and facilitate learning authentic experiences based on our collective social experience.