Preconference Institutes

Preconference Institutes – February 21, 2018

Preconference Institute 1

Reinvent Mathematics Education and You Change the World

Speaker - Gary Stager

There may be no greater gap between a discipline and the teaching done in its name than when the beauty, power and mystery of mathematics become math instruction. Nary a single pedagogical innovation of the past century has had any impact on school math instruction. If that alone were insufficiently troublesome, its negative impact on all other aspects of schooling is too often underestimated. No matter how child-centered or progressive a school might think itself to be, a failure to address “math” means that coercion is ultimately reintroduced into the system. Such coercion is corrosive and will ultimately erode any other progress. So, what to do?

One can only begin to address the systemic challenges of math education by understanding the nature of mathematics and the power of computing. Countess decades worth of efforts to increase achievement with unchanged curricular content continues to fail spectacularly; yet, we do not change course. Surely, the widespread availability of computational technology demands new pedagogical approaches and a new diet of mathematics.

This workshop moves beyond the goal of making math instruction engaging for children by providing educators with authentic mathematical thinking experiences. Such experiences acknowledge the role computers play in mathematics and society’s increasing demand for computational thinking. Project-based approaches with mathematics at the center of the activity will be explored. Traditional concepts such as numeracy, geometry, probability and graphing will be investigated in addition to exciting new branches of mathematics rarely found in the primary grades. Such experiences are required for educators seeking to create a new diet of mathematics for children.

This workshop is designed for teachers of grades K-8, but there is plenty to offer high school teachers as well, particularly in the areas of computation and rethinking the math curriculum.

Preconference Institute 2

Building Schools of the Future

Speaker - Dr. Scott McLeod

The schools of the future are being invented today, one building block at a time. Every year we see the following initiatives gain further ground in schools all around the world. Teachers, school leaders, and communities should be working toward greater implementation of these components, both individually and in concert. Join us for an invigorating day of organizational assessment, conversation, brainstorming, and action planning around these essential elements of future-ready schools:

  1. Project- and inquiry-based learning environments that emphasize greater student agency and active application of more cognitively-complex thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.
  2. Community projects, internships, digital simulations, and other problem- and project-based learning experiences that foster students’ ability to engage in authentic, real-world work.
  3. Competency-based education and standards-based grading efforts that shift the focus of assessment from seat time to learning mastery.
  4. 1:1 computing initiatives (and concurrent Internet bandwidth upgrades) that give students powerful digital learning devices and access to the world’s information, individuals, and organizations.
  5. The expansion of digital and online (and often open access) information resources that increase the availability of higher and deeper learning opportunities.
  6. Online communities of interest that supplement and augment more-traditional learning communities that are limited by geography and time.
  7. Adaptive software and data systems (and accompanying organizational models) that can facilitate greater individualization of learning content and pace.
  8. Alternative credentialing mechanisms that enable individuals to quickly reskill for and adapt to rapidly-evolving workforce needs and economic demands.
  9. Flexible scheduling that moves students away from 50-minute time chunks – and a prescribed number of hours and days in a prescribed location – and toward opportunities for students to learn longer, deeper, and in more places about important life skills and concepts.
  10. Redesigned learning spaces that accommodate flexible, student-centered grouping and learning tasks rather than classrooms that are dictated by instructor or janitorial needs.

Participants should bring a willingness to rethink learning and teaching, a lack of defensiveness, and, preferably, a laptop or Chromebook (because iPads don't always play nice with Google Sheets).

Preconference Institute 3

Learning on Fire ~ Digital-Age Inquiry

Speaker - Bernajean Porter and Suzie Boss

Become wizards at the artful structuring of digital-age inquiry to unleash every student's inner fire while accelerating curiosity, learning, thinking, and communicating in a digital age. Prepare for a first plunge, getting started in moving learners from primarily fact-based consumers to becoming thinking-based meaning-makers with a special focus on accelerating student voice and choice learning. Participants will experience designing inquiry-based learning infused with digital tools as well as articulating a meaningful role for media-making as inquiry learning evidence.

Getting Started with Inquiry Session - Participants will use inquiry to develop their own understanding of high-quality Project- Based Learning and effective PBL planning.

Media Making as Learning Evidence Session - Participants will also explore, sort and consider high value, digital tool choices for inquiry projects including media making as learning evidence incorporating AGENCY to increase student voice and choice.


  • Turning Up the H.E.A.T. in Learning
  • Populating Planning Templates
  • Creating Self-Directed Learners - Voice and Choice
  • Getting Started with Inquiry
    • Increased confidence in designing high-quality inquiry to meet learning goals.
    • Understanding the difference between projects and project-based learning
    • Strategies for encouraging deep inquiry to incorporate student voice and choice
    • Ideas for extending learning beyond the classroom and tackling real-world challenges
  • Facilitating Media Making as Learning Evidence
    • Sorting Digital Tools for High-Return-on-Learning [ROL] and Added-Value
    • Distinguishing LOTS [lower order thinking] vs HOTS [higher order thinking] Uses of Technology
    • Using Seven Steps for Elevating the Rigor and Craftsmanship of Media Making
    • Creating StoryBoards to Translate Narrative into Media Products
    • Identifying TYPES of Communication - Online Rubrics
    • Personalizing [voice and choice] with Tool Choices

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