Learning Something New

I am attending the Magnet Schools of America conference this week in Tulsa. While this conference is a little smaller than some of the other conferences I have attended recently, that doesn’t mean it is short on content.

Tony Wagner was the keynote speaker via Skype, but it was interesting. Tony was advocating that today’s learning needs to value teamwork, be interdisciplinary, make student creators and not consumers, allows for risk taking and making mistakes, and allow for iteration. Students need to “fail early and fail often” and reflect back on their work. Tony argued that an F is the new A. Student who have attempted something and failed may have learned more than the straight A student who has not.

Tony believe that we need to hold teachers accountable for what matters most. The key is what does this look like and could it be determined through a sampling strategy. He also points out that teachers spend too much time complaining about the current assessments and not enough time offering solutions. Another of his suggestions is to change the grading system to A, B, or Incomplete. The student has either mastered the learning standard, achieved the standard, or has not reached it yet.

The final point that I want to mention from Tony’s keynote is the suggestion that each state as a research and development division for education. He says companies spend millions in R&D to improve their products and services so why shouldn’t states do the same with education. I particularly liked this idea and think that it can start at a school or district level first.

I will discuss the other sessions that I attended tomorrow. These sessions included a college/high school partnership, using the class as a production company, and tips for using social media as a school.