SummerSpark 2010 Conversations

Session 1

Peer mentoring programs that matter (Chris Renshaw) Room 110 -- If teachers understand that many students learn best when they teach- and learn from- other students, how can we create an environment where this sort of exchange is common? What are some of the difficulties in setting up a formal peer mentoring program, such as a writing center? How can we get student buy-in from the masses? Is this just an “English thing”, or can other content areas find a use for formal peer mentoring programs? What would such a program look like for a math or science department? What does a “successful” peer mentoring program look like?

Reflective Practice (Dolores Gende) Room 204 -- Do you encourage students to reflect on their own learning? What are the advantages of encouraging reflection? Is there a way to assess a reflection? What mechanisms lead to deeper reflections?
Session Resources:

Creating a Long-term, Global, Student-Owned Blogging Project (Christian Long) Room 207 -- What are the opportunities, limitations, and curriculum specifications for designing a blogging project that truly reaches out to the globe? How does the teacher alter his/her role to that of a mentor/guide, rather than the in-house expert? What are the time/management implications? How does one go about building a network of outside experts to participate and comment?

Session 2
High school students' view of a great classroom (Oakridge sophomores) Room 110 -- When is the last time you had an opportunity to sit down with students and talk to them about what teaching strategies work the best? Come talk to high school students about what they think makes a great classroom experience. Ask them questions about what motivates them to achieve and what engages and empowers them to learn. You may be surprised by what you learn.

The art of presentation and communication in today's world (Jason Kern) Room 207 -- From Presentation Zen and Universal Design to Ignite and TED talks, come share ideas on the best presentation and communication strategies. Every teacher should be a master communicator, how can we improve upon our presentation abilities and what types of skills should we be teaching our students?

Writing in the Science and Math courses (Dolores Gende) Room 204 -- Science and math are subjects that are not usually associated with writing. How can we create opportunities for creative writing in these courses? How can digital storytelling be meaningful in math and science?

Session 3
Change that Matters (Scott Floyd) Room 207 -- Media is loaded with headlines with politicians bashing schools and demanding "change." Old habits die hard, and it's even harder to convince stakeholders to change when their kids are successful with standardized testing. If schools are to change, what does this look like and how do we achieve it?

Portfolios (Susan Hopper) Room 204 -- Taking students from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset,” digital portfolios are a tool to help students understand the importance of lifelong learning. How can digital portfolios capture the essence of the learner? How can digital portfolios be used as tools for reflection and assessment?

The Importance of Developing Self-Regulatory Learning Practices (Chris Bigenho) Room 110 -- The content is there, the pedagogy is strong but the students are full of questions...questions about what will be on the test. How do we move students past the extrinsic motivator of grades to one of self-regulatory learning? Is the answer in content or pedagogy? Or, is the answer found somewhere in the literature of developing expertise?

Session 4

Re-Designing the Physical Space to Reflect The Teaching/Learning Relationship (Christian Long) Room 207 -- How can a teacher play with the space they already have to inspire a more directly relationship between learning & teaching? What are the opportunities/limitations? What can we learn from school architects/designers/planners that requires no money? How can we create spaces that reflect creativity, innovation, curiosity, and collaboration, rather than sit-n-drill lecture teaching methodologies?

Cognitive Considerations for Today's Pedagogy (Chris Bigenho) Room 110 -- With learning environments becoming increasingly more complex and distributed, how do we consider the cognitive implications or our classrooms and the methods we use? What is the cognitive cost of complexity and how can we understand and address these issues?

Networking with Social Media Online (Paul Wood) Room 204 -- See how interacting with people online can broaden our horizons, open the doors to our one room school houses and help our students to find their own voices in a world of possibilities.

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Alternate Discussion Topics
  1. How do we motivate students to ask great questions instead of simply regurgitate correct answers? - The ability to ask great questions involves core knowledge, research, analysis and synthesis. These are skills that we would like all our students to possess yet they often simply want to know 'is this going to be on the test?" How do we modify our classrooms so that the students are motivated to ask great questions that will then lead to the ability to give even better answers?
  2. Live Blogging with CoverItLive -- Have you ever wanted to create a 'living' conversation outside of class? How can we use 'live blogging' both inside and outside of the class? What would such a conversation be like and what value would it have if we could archive it? What value would it be to have outside experts 'visit' with your class via a 'chat' model?
  3. Best Practices-- We all talk about best practices but what are they? What to they all have in common? What makes a best practice a best practice?
  4. Professional development that matters: What are the characteristics of an effective PD program? What are the barriers that impede successful implementation of a PD program? How do we assess the impact of PD?