At the very end of June, three of us from Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment had the opportunity to attend PBL World sponsored by Buck Institute for Education and held in Napa, California. During the four days we attended keynotes by renowned educators and two accomplished students and attended day- long sessions to build our capacity.
Alfred Solis was the keynote on June 25—the take away for me was his use of the term renovate. Many of us live in buildings built under prior technologies, building codes and availability of materials. Yet, we renovate these homes to fit today’s world and needs. Likewise, there are lots of resources and projects that teachers graciously share—why not renovate projects to fit your students? After all, we renovate homes and buildings to fit current design trends, technology and specific needs. We can do the same with projects- and in turn, share our experiences for others to renovate. You can listen in to Alfred Solis keynote address.
Ramsey Musallam, a chemistry teacher, who is known for his TED talk on learning and curiosity, gave an intriguing and inspiring keynote also. He presented that learning needs to be a heroic journey – and by applying the hero’s journey to teaching and learning we would engage students with inquiry and curiosity, relevance and resolution resulting in deep learning. To motivate students, some information needs to be withheld- that a knowledge gap needs to exist. Students need to explore, explain and apply. Inquiry, feedback and public products and sharing are critical for students to develop success skills. This presenter has a gift for explaining and applying research. You can listen in as Suzie Boss conducts a post-keynote conversation with Ramsey Musallam. You can attend his keynote presentation here.
While the keynote speakers were inspiring, the opportunity to meet and share with fellow educators grappling with similar issues provided key ideas for us to bring back for our consideration. Some of the common issues expressed by people from varied corners of the world were:
- how to lead change in environments of high accountability assessments
- what about the dissonance between researched findings to improve student outcomes yet systems that are traditionally slow to implement research findings
- teaching in a standards based environment- encompassing identified essential standards
- creating a culture for student centered learning
In some conversations, we were validated that the movement here in Central New York is solid, well-planned and we have many resources to train and support teachers. In other conversations, we all were able to share our common concerns without necessarily coming up with a solution. Then other times, it was enlightening as others shared their practice or their perspectives and ideas for potential suggestions for us.
Whether attending a keynote, a session or having informal conversations it was an inspiring, refreshing, encouraging and educational four days!
Next for us is PBL-NY. This is the opportunity for all of us to locally listen to outstanding keynotes, attend sessions offered by a wide variety of experienced educators and our opportunity to share common concerns, collectively offer suggestions and learn from each other. Don’t miss the opportunity for inspiration, renewal, encouragement and learning! Registration closes soon! See you there!