Summer 2016: Conference Takeaways

The masses perceive teachers to have summers off, but anyone who specializes in the field of education knows that there really aren’t any breaks. Summer is often a time filled with many hours pondering and planning for the year to come.

At Wisewire, we understand that:

  • The business of teaching is on a fast-track to change, evolving at a pace not for the faint of heart.
  • For you, this likely means continually self-informing and researching new ideas that will excite your students and help keep them engaged in your classroom.

In keeping with our mission to engage, inspire, and improve learning experiences, one of the ways we have kept up with the latest and greatest in education is by doing some conference-hopping this summer; even better, we made it our special homework assignment to share with you what we learned. Read on for our insights and highlights!

 Notes from ISTE 2016

This year, the International Society for Technology in Education (or ISTE) hosted its annual meeting in Denver. The agenda and list of experts did not disappoint, and we left with fresh ideas around how to use technology in the classroom across all grades and disciplines.

Key Takeaways:

  • As technology continues to evolve and expand, it is paramount that students learn and excel at digital literacy. Technology will be integrated into every part of our existence, significantly beyond what we experience today; we must prepare our children to be able to successfully navigate their way through a digital world.
  • Students need to be able to tackle the tasks that computers cannot be programmed to do. Our value, moving forward, will be our creative problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skill sets. Education must center around enhancing these human abilities.
  • Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome. When asked, “what do you want kids to do with technology?” the right answers are: “raise awareness,” “start conversations,” and “find answers to their questions,” not “make prezis,” “start blogs,” or “produce videos.”
  • Plug and play and bite-sized materials (especially technology-oriented) are the way to go when searching for new and low-maintenance ways to enhance your lessons. The Wisewire marketplace is an ideal resource for bite-sized and tech-based instruction enhancers.

Notes from NCSC 2016

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools hosted the National Charter School Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Over 5000 education-minded professionals gathered to discuss policy, teacher recruitment, leadership, and new research around curriculum and instruction.

Key Takeaways:

  • There is a great deal of new research out around how the brain works and how best to learn and motivate! Make time to read up on the works of Sandra Chapman (UT). She talks about how to tap into key skills for the future, such as collaboration, innovation, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence.
  • Everyone benefits from learning by doing. Give students a safe space to make connections with their teachers/peers—and with the content—and let them pursue hands-on, self-directed projects.
  • How can we raise the bar on student and teacher questioning? Focus on the harder questions and have peer reviews integrated in everything you do so that students learn from the dialoguing process. Questions like, “I like how you approached X, but have you considered Y?” vs statements like, “I liked what you did” can foster dialogue and critical thinking.
  • View Roland S. Martin’s address to the conference here.

Are you feeling more prepared?

Even just a few minutes of light reading and focused link surfing can equip you with a handful of new fun and engaging methods to grab your students’ attention. We are going to have a great year together—cheers!

What conferences did you attend this summer? Share your comments and takeaways for fellow teachers below.