This year my students and I returned to Educon, the national education conference focused on progressive conversations about how we might improve education for all people. We had planned two conversations and both were geared to have high levels of student engagement.
Our first sessions was geared towards opening the curriculum document for NOVA Lab and having members of the audience help us suck out some of the curricular water that had bloated the system. (I’ve written about that before and finally decided to take my own advice.). While the attendance was small, our troop of students had ample time to present their projects, both present and past, and create awareness for the good things they are doing. Our audience engaged us in frequent questions that helped us not only explain the methods and content of the class, but which also helped us understand the privilege it is to be able to have a class like this. Challenging the staid and standard curriculum is not something allowed, it seems, in most inner city districts. This opened an entirely new perspective about how systems suppress innovation in order to maintain dependencies and suppress upward mobility.
Gradelessness & Microdocumentation of Learning: Assessment through Learning Journeys
This session saw our largest audience ever at Educon, about 11 people. Ok, so that seems small, but with about 15 different conversations running during each session, it’s not easy to get a huge audience. Regardless, the attendees were engaged, asked hard questions, and received a huge amount of documentation via the sliidedeck we’d constructed. Students again had a huge role, culling data from “Big Paper” recordings of initial readings, creating a list of discussion topics, and also helping to describe the different ways we have attempted, in both my English and Innovation classes, to capture student Learning Journeys.
This session also allowed us to explore how we’ve been using Unrulr.com to capture learning journeys throughout the year so far. While my system for pulling in Unrulr is not where I want it to be, the success I’ve had with it has allowed me to showcase the beauty of cultures of commenting and communities of feedback like nothing else.
In the decade or so since I first started attending Educon, I have had the pleasure to meet with like minded educators who have helped shape my own learning journey. It is my hope that, by bringing students to Educon and allowing them to discuss their learning, the systems of both my own classes and the school in general, we are able to influence others and learn from others in ways that not only question why things are the way they are, but empower us all to make them better.