Wednesday, March 30, 2011

But Wait..There's More! Gratitude for our PLN

After I posted last night about some of my learning from #ASCD11, I realized that I had not adequately thanked all who so graciously contributed to the presentation, Beyond the Classroom Walls, Connecting in a Globalized World.
First off, a great big thanks to my fabulous co-presenter, Lisa Dabbs, also a wonderful blogger at, who worked tirelessly on telling our story in a beautiful slideshow. She also spent countless hours preparing a Livebinder resource for folks to utilize after our presentation.  Lisa and I live 400 miles away from each other and prepared together in many conversations over Skype! She, however, did most of the work, and I just can't express my gratitude in words. Lisa is one of those people everyone should have in their network.
Second, thank you to all of the folks who so generously took the time to tell their stories of connecting globally: Clive, Greta, Aviva, Jo and Phil, Colin, Alex, and Steve. These inspiring educators graciously spent time creating fabulous snippets of their work to highlight the incredible value of online relationships and learning opportunities.
If you follow me on Twitter, you can find them all there, sharing each day how they enliven their practice with online tools.
Finally, thank you to all of the wonderful members of our personal learning network, who came to our presentation, and/or supported us through tweets and messages of encouragement. It's not easy to stand up in a room of peers and talk for 90 minutes, but all of you helped by sharing the message that Lisa and I set out to convey.
Hopefully, I have not left anyone out here, but if I have, there will surely be more posts on the wonderful learning experience of ASCD11. Who would you like to thank today?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3 Big Ideas from ASCD11

The Wonderful Co-presenter and Friend: Lisa Dabbs

I love the hearts of SF!
My Very Favorite Session!

Meeting My Fabulous PLN: Lisa, Karen, and Angela!

I just returned from the ASCD11 preconference and conference in San Francisco and, I must say: my head is spinning!  Not only did I have the privilege of presenting, Beyond the Classroom Walls,  with my good friend, Lisa Dabbs, but I also got to meet, face to face, many of the educators in my PLN, personal learning network.
What were the most inspiring messages that I took back with me to my class today?

  1. Find the bright spots. Chip Heath, the keynote speaker, talked about how we need to find the "bright spots" in any challenging situation such as education and learn from them. Examining and re-examining problems won't lead us to change. We must seek out those who have managed to overcome obstacles and thrive, and then find out how they have blossomed despite hardship. We must also learn how to motivate others through "heart" and emotion, and help "shape the path" so that our analytical brains will accept and see the possibility. Read more here.
  2. Kids are always paying attention, to something but maybe (often?) not to us! Perhaps we haven't cultivated the "need to know" or "need to solve a problem" that we, as humans, all have. It's time that we captured the attention of our students through their brains; we must activate the amygdala through the senses, using novelty, curiosity, and signals that give the brain just the right level of stimulation. Dr. Judy Willis, in her wonderful session with Jay McTighe, showed us that students who were exposed to positive facial expressions on faces performed higher on cognitive/memory tasks than students exposed to angry facial exprssions.  When stimulated positively,  and not overstimulated through stress, the amygdala's connections to the frontal cortex can facilitate learning and executive functioning. 
  3. Relationship is what facilitates the safe environment where kids can think critically and make powerful connections. Over and over, session after session, presenters talked about Carol Dweck's growth mindset, and how an environment that openly embraces and celebrates failure and effort facilitates the learning that leads to success and efficacy. I must say that relationships are also what helps strengthen us as educators. I connected with many of my wonderful online PLN members; it was like meeting old friends! Don't underestimate the synergy of passionate educators. 
What connections do you make as you read this post? Were you there at ASCD and have another view to share?