Notes, Quotes, and a little Commentary from ISTE 2012 Day Two

Tuesday reminded me how ISTE is always a busy conference, with more people and great presentations to see than there is time.

Yong Zhao‘s keynote kicked off the day, sounding a similar message to Ken Robinson and Marc Prensky’s keynote on Sunday night, hat what we do NOT need in education is more standardization. Zhao’s focus was entrepreneurship and its correlation to success on standardized exams. He has some pretty interesting data to support his thesis, and it will probably be worth reading his new book that comes out later this month. I had the impression that he was very well received by the teachers in the audience, despite the obvious truth that few of them are allowed to let students pursue their individual passions in this era of uber-standardization in public schools. How do we get Duncan and Obama to listen to Robinson, Zhao, et al?

I had four concurrent sessions on my ISTE Planner for Tuesday, and made it to three of them. I’d blame my good friend Stuart Posin for keeping me from one of them, but the couple hours we spent eating great food in the San Diego sun and catching up was a highlight of my day.

Notes and quotes from today’s sessions:

1. Student Work at High Tech High (Larry Rosenstock, HTH CEO), notes:

“It’s about Passion, Purpose, Play.” – HTH let’s students follow their passions, playfully connecting subjects to create learning categories like “Calculicious” (Calculus and Art combined) and “Phys Newton”: “beautiful art on the outside, delicious physics on the inside. Love it.

“”What we’re really about is social integration, and our pedagogy is the means.” – HTH enrolls students through a lottery, with no preferences, and puts them to work collaboratively from day one. Most go to college.

I’ve written before about High Tech High, and asked “Is this the best school in America?”. Nobody has yet told me it isn’t.

2. A Broader Perspective on Data: Data Visualization and Infographics (David Warlick), notes:

“”We are analog beings, but we look for patterns, and visualizations. Data can help define who and what we are in a broad sense.” – humans are meaning-making-machines, and data is another tool to help us find meaning from our experience.

“The power of graphics is NOT in the answers they provide but in the questions they provoke.” – how can we use graphic depictions of data to ask questions about the human experience? What stories do they tell? Great quote.

The notes have links to David’s session handouts and sample sites to use in teaching.

I don’t have notes from the third session I attended. PBL Birds of a Feather was a set of small group discussions on questions about Project-Based Learning, moderated by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss, and it was great. I recommend you follow the Twitter hashtag #PBLchat where much of the online conversation about PBL happens daily. And, follow some of the PBL rockstars in attendance today: @wrightsroom, @BiancaH80, @newtechnetwork, @suzieboss, @jkrauss.

Is this the best High School in America?

It’s not my question, it’s The Daily Riff’s.  And it’s probably not the correct question to ask – there are certainly many different ways of doing school that will work well. So, maybe a better question would be “What makes a great school?”

Let this video about High Tech High in San Diego be the conversation starter. Here’s the opening question: “What is it about High Tech’s approach to education that makes it a great school?”