Today was the third annual Tomorrow’s Classroom Today education conference created and run by Dr. Scott Rocco, Brad Currie, and Billy Krakower. This is also my third time attending and presenting at this conference. It is a conference that is easy to get to, well run, and they honor their presenters by waiving the registration fee. That last part is something that ISTE needs to start looking at emulating. Why should we do all the hard work of preparing presentations while ISTE reaps their millions by charging their presenters full price, no wait the same early bird price as someone who is only attending? Ok rant over. Back to the conference.
I rolled in just as the beginning of the conference formalities were started. I opened my laptop to get ready and it started blaring Disney tunes from the night before. (kids bedtime and all) I quickly held the power button down and shut it off. What I did not realize was that I only temporarily shut it down and didn’t do a full reboot. When I turned it back on it started playing the music again. Nothing like interrupting a silent room with blaring music. Luckily, Brad Currie, the expert leader was able to roll with it and make a light-hearted moment out of it.
Due to this snafu I walked out to get my computer working and missed out on the keynote Angela Watson. I was able to connect with some great people in the lobby. It was great to attend a conference and have no responsibility!
Title: Now That’s a Good Question! How to Promote Cognitive Rigor Through Classroom Questioning Presenter(s): Erik Francis
Description: What is a good question – or rather, how does a good question prompt students to think deeply and express and share the depth and extent of their learning? How can questioning engage students to develop and demonstrate their learning through research, examination, investigation, and design? Learn how to develop good questions that will challenge students to demonstrate higher order thinking and communicate depth of knowledge in-depth, insightfully, and in their own unique way.
Erik’s session was overall solid. His understanding and explanation of the depth of knowledge is second to none. I loved how he made us think about questioning. His presentation is linked here. Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings are necessary for teaching content. His visual on the Depth of Knowledge is awesome. Definitely, check his resources out.
His session did have a couple of points that I disagreed with. He was so worried about Project Based Learning and trying to convince us that his teaching of projects was PBL when it didn’t seem like it was based on the definition given by the Buck Institute. The conversation derailed what was an excellent idea. Erik uses projects in his class. He uses many of the things that PBL uses. It doesn’t matter whether it is PBL or not. The point is his teaching seems to work for his students. He did not show us any data though so we have to take his word for it. I would imagine it is in his book which you can find by going to his site.
We also had a discussion about why he doesn’t force students to work in groups. My point is if we are going to teach the whole child we have to address interpersonal wellness. Allowing students to isolate themselves does not improve this wellness.
Overall his session was engaging although lacked movement. This is common amongst presenters who don’t understand or value movement. I would say if he is presenting check it out. It will make you think about thinking!
The second session I attended was:
Title: Innovative Approaches to Literacy Presenter(s): Chrissy Romano-Arrabito and Donna Petrin-Wall
Description: Participants will dive in and explore methods to create a student-centered, technology enhanced ELA classroom. Participants will take away an understanding of how to use Google Classroom, Docs, and Slides to provide feedback during the learning process, apps and extensions to support struggling learners, dynamic tools to increase student engagement, collaboration, and create authentic learning experiences, and various formative assessment tools that can be used to continually inform instruction.
This session was awesome. I expected nothing less from Chrissy and Donna. Chrissy is on the circuit like they say in the biz! They gave a ton of resources for how to use a more student-centered approach to an ELA classroom. Her ideas were fresh and interesting. Seesaw was given a huge shout out and deservedly so. It is a game changer! My one take away Story Jumper is an engaging tool that teachers need to check out.
As an aside, it was brought up that Bitmoji only has straight and curly hair to choose from there were no options for braids. This is a problem when Chrissy and Donna teach students who can’t make a Bitmoji that looks like them. This is unacceptable. Please tweet @Bitmoji and let them know this.
My suggestions to both Chrissy and Donna is figuring out how to incorporate movement into your presentation. A simple stand and turn and talk would do wonders. I did love how you opened the floor up at the end of the session to the participants. I love when the room gets a chance to shine as well.
My session was my third and final session. If you want the slides on how different ways to incorporate movement click here.
After the third session, we ate lunch and then heard 5 ignites. Ignites are 5 minutes long and usually 20 slides that are 15 seconds each. One idea I thought was brilliant was the raffles were at the end of the day. In order to get a raffle ticket you had to visit every vendor. That is a great way to increase vendor traffic! After the raffles we headed home.
As always I will state my glows and groans (stolen from Jorge Rodriguez)
Glow: Dr. Josue Falaise’s ignite was amazing. He was passionate and switched the time of his slides but still stayed under 5 minutes. He highlighted the contributions of two People of Color Patricia Bath (cataract surgery inventor) and Lonnie Johnson (inventor of the super soaker). His passion for education was obvious and he is a delight to laugh and hang with.
Groan: There were a lot of sessions and only three time slots. I would have fewer sessions per slot and more sessions overall.
Glow: They accepted me to present!
Groan: There were still not a ton of People of Color that were present. I think Julianne Moore brought most of the Women of Color there!! EdCamp Brooklyn representing!! There has to be a way that we can get a more representative crowd of who teaches our students represented. I don’t know the answer but we have to be more inclusive. That may mean going out and recruiting people.
Glow: The internet was reliable and the facilities to present were solid.
Glow: The people were friendly. Participate has some great reps. I connected with old and new PLN members. EdCamp NJ was well represented with over 10 people from our planning committee there.
Overall this was a great conference that I would recommend anyone go to!! If you are free to present and want to hang with me next year you can sign up here. Proposals are due by June 30. See you then!