Lee FlemingWe frequently use this phrase to remind us that great practices which work for New Tech as an organization work for schools and work in classrooms.As I start to think about our Annual Conference this summer, I look forward to seeing participants facilitate sessions that model a key core principle of New Tech schools: Student-centered instruction.After visiting over 100 New Tech classrooms in 10 different schools in the past few months, I am truly inspired by the ingenuity of our network members and the strategies they have come up with to reform education in their own communities. Among many others, here are a few samples of the interesting and different strategies used to engage students:• Teachers in a Bio-Lit class at Adam’s Central used a polling tool to find out student opinions on controversial topics. Once the class poll results were written up on the board, students would argue each side and then re-vote, helping students to really see the results of an effective argument first hand.• Columbus Signature Academy Societal Analysis teachers hosted an in-depth critical feedback discussion in which students in the class were provided both warm and cool feedback to their peers to improve the final product. Students drove the direction and depth of the conversation while teachers occasionally provided some feedback as needed.• A “Coffee House peer edit” session at Calumet where the Career-Lit teachers provided refreshments to students in another room providing a more comfortable and collegiate atmosphere while they peer-edited drafts using Proofreading Marks.• A Director at Fort Wayne who facilitated “family time” with her school to provide a time for students to pass a “key” to another student who had demonstrated excellence in one of their core values.What did all these strategies have in common? The adults provided a framework for students to be active participants in their own learning experience. I asked a student in one class what the students liked about the teacher and he said, “Well, in the [other traditional] classes I am just sitting, but in here I feel like I am actually doing something.”This is particularly pertinent to me as we begin to set the agenda for the New Tech Annual Conference next summer. In transferring those principles to our own training, like students, adults want an opportunity to come to sessions where they will actively participate, have an opportunity to share, take polls, express ideas, and receive awards too.The deadline for facilitator applications is looming—what ideas do you have on how you can share your best practices with others in our network? If you are stuck, think of one of the following popular approaches:1) Modeling a specific technology tool and placing it in the hands of participants to use in a particular context 2) Interactive simulation or role play of frequently faced challenging scenarios3) Strategies to help address high-stakes testing that don’t compromise the core elements of a student-centered classroom4) Special Education or Counseling session to share approaches on organizing student learning or future planningSo… the next step is to find a friend and send in your application *here. We look forward to seeing your ideas and hearing what fun offerings we will have in our conference this summer.*This link takes you to a simple survey that asks for a summary of ideas. Agendas are not expected, only potential ideas for sessions and applicants will receive feedback from our Critical Friends Committee within 60 days of application.
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