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EVENT EXCERPTS


Big Ideas Fest, 2011 – Day 2

The first full day of the Big Ideas Fest in Half Moon Bay included a "Rapid Fire" presentation by Barbara Chow (Education Program Director at Hewlett Foundation). Barbara talked about the importance of Federal policy and new school models.

William Ayres (noted educational activist) talked how the national "disrespect" for teachers is damaging the profession. His simple belief is "Good working conditions are good teaching conditions, and good teaching conditions are good learning conditions." He is concerned that some for-profit providers turn education into a product assembly line filling "inert heads with disconnected facts."
Enrique Legaspi, a young teacher, showed how he is enabling students to "curate" their own content on the web. He feels that "editors learn - so we should let students edit their own materials rather than doing it for them."

The need for "real time assessment" was also discussed. Students need (and deserve) to get "the right data at the right time." People were talking about "Course Signals" - a tool that gives a student a green, yellow or red light to indicate their chances of passing a course. The signal is based on the passing rate of past students who have performed similarly up to the same point in the course. Apparently the simple signal greatly improves the pass rate because students who get a red or yellow warning take action before it is too late.

The Ford Fusion dashboard was provided as an example of real time feedback. A green plant is shown on the dashboard. It gets greener if the car is driven in an eco-friendly way, and shrivels if the car is not driven responsibly. Apparently this real time feedback has greatly improved the driving performance of Fusion owners. The symbol was developed by IDEO using the same "Action Collab" process we are using at the conference.

The first full day of my Action Collab went well. My group included educators from around the nation, creative people from Edutopia, and more. We worked on an assessment tool that measures 21st century skills (such as teamwork) and would work with the Common Core Standards. One of the special "research subjects" who was interviewed by my team was Gever Tulley a former Adobe designer and friend of mine who recently started a charter school (Brightworks) focused on tinkering. He also wrote a book called "50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do."

To spark creative thinking, I led my group through five different ‘Improv’ activities - something I never imagined doing but find very effective now that I have gotten training from the pros on how to do it. Improv, it turns out, is not about being funny. It is about being "present" and connecting with people in new ways.

I am all set for tomorrow's "proto-storming" session in the Collab. We will be using RAFT materials to create a physical model of our assessment system. Time for lights out!

- Greg Brown, RAFT Education Director (Dec 5,2011)

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