Gary was someone I was really looking forward to as I had missed his keynote last year to get back to school to host Bob Rogers with a PD workshop. I follow him with eagerness on Twitter and read a lot of his blogs and research. He is the Executive Director of the Constructivist Consortium and a TED talk is here. I find him quite provocative and unafraid to say exactly what he believes in…..and he does ruffle feathers world-wide. By the same token he has a worldwide following of educators who are open to his ideas and stand with him in an attempt to rebel against an education system that is teaching to testing and as a result becoming narrower and less relevant to the real world.
The idea of incorporating ‘making’ into our school is something I am interested in. This incorporates robotics, programming and techno-type tasks where the kids are collaboratively making things with their hands. With the Technology curriculum being implemented next year, many of these ideas are directly relevant to us. I am also very interested in making sure the Digital Technology strand is integrated across and through our current curriculum and that it doesn’t become a separate curriculum area.
He refers a lot to Papert and his ideas. Click here for a page of links related to this.
My summary of his keynote:
Gary Stager speaks loudly and courageously about school reform and giving kids what they deserve. He speaks scathingly about ‘one size fits all’ education and passionately in regards to the heights students are able to reach if we give them the opportunity.
He worked in 1990 with MLC as they instigated one of the first 1-1 laptop programs in Australia……and since then has worked with schools and organisations the world over to implement project based learning programs that utilise technology.
He regards computers as vehicles of self expression and believes in using computers to do and learn things that were unimaginable a few years ago.
At the very least, teachers are adding more colours to the crayon box when they can use technology effectively in powerful ways to enhance thinking and learning.
He talked about Maker Faires and as making as being a stance. To read more about the Maker Movement, simply google it or go here.
- Design video games – micro worlds
- Teaching programming – a meaningful context for teaching maths.
‘We have overvalued learning with our heads and undervalued learning with our hands’, he says.
presented a keynote on engagement and motivation and how technology can assist us in this area. He is one of Australia’s most sought after educational thought leaders and works with a diverse range of people and organisations as well as featuring in and writing for the mainstream media.
He started by talking about some polls and surveys, including the latest Gallup Poll on Australian students last year which showed that by Year 5, 30% of our kids are disengaged. This was familiar to me as I had read this quite recently. He added that by Year 12, 50 % are disengaged. He also talked about PISA and some areas of PISA that don’t often get the same amount of publicity as the tests for basic literacy and numeracy. These are statement to which students have to agree or disagree.
“I feel like I don’t belong or that I am not happy at school”. Australia comes 18th.
In Korea – 40% of kids feel like they don’t belong.
He made the point that this ‘connectednes’s or lack of is a better predictor of success than more traditional testing.
Dan talked a lot about engagement and that it is easy to confuse conformity and compliance for engagement.
Key question: Would kids turn up to school if they didn’t have to????
He talked about positive psychology – and discussed engagement, purpose, meaning. He discussed that most kids are ok….but that we need to feel responsible for moving them further up on that spectrum. To do this, we need to engage them in their lives, the world around them and ultimately their future.
He talked about the need for respect, trust and care to be evident in relationships between teachers and students.
He touched upon the Australian Curriculum and the General Capabilities and how may present opportunities for a ‘way in’ for school wanting to do something innovative.
We need to empower kids to change the world and to convince them that everyone has the power to change someone’s world.
Greg Whitby is also a Twitter follow of mine. He leads a system of Catholic schools in NSW and has been at the helm through a strategic implementation of change and innovation.
He very early made a number of key points in his keynote and said that he would revisit these again and again throughout his presentation.
1. Any learning experience that delivers answers is not worth it.
2. National Curriculum – we should challenge this if it doesn’t suit our teachers or students.
3. Teachers matter.
4. Premise – we need to shift the responsibility of control from the teacher to the student.
5. Schooling has to be about innovation.
6. Do the work by doing the work.
7. Theory of action – we want to improve learning…..we want to provide a rewarding environment for teachers. The focus must always be on the teacher and building the capacity of teachers. There must be an investment in a community of practice and we must look at the evidence.
He talked a little about innovation and made it clear that innovation is NOT experimentation. The work we do must be based on good theory and we have to be confident that we are moving ahead with the research behind us. He mentioned BYO programs with this and said this is what they have done.
I didn’t go and see Ewan this year as it clashed with Gary’s session but his session on Agile Leadership was well received.