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A little PD: A few notes on the Reform Symposium E.Conference

July 31, 2011

Reform Symposium E.Conference is an online conference going on now. It is a great opportunity to get some ideas and even feel better about teaching as well as gather some ideas for future trials. The conference is not aimed specifically at English Language Teachers although Shelley Terrell is a primary organizer. Most of the sessions I have attended, which admittedly is not very many, have involved elementary school classes.

One theme I have found in the sessions I have attended is putting control in the students hands including the decisions about content and even grades. Student driven learning as explained by Joseph Stumpenhorst, Stump the Teacher, was a good example of this theme. He gives the students a great deal of ownership of their learning with such things as innovation days. I didn’t get in for the first part of the session, so I don’t have a lot of details.

I also attended a session last night by Chuck Sandy titled Critical Thinking 2.0: Thinking, Doing, Changing that introduced his use of Design for Change to engage his students in a meaningful activity that involves more and deeper thinking. The way he presented for getting into this type of activity is to ask the students, What bothers you?

I also attended Mark Barnes’s session, 21st Century Assessment: how narrative feedback is eliminating the ABCs, discussed how he uses narrative feedback to assess students and do away with grades. His site, Results Only Learning Environment explains his practices. I enjoyed his discussion of assessment and how he gives targeted feedback. It does look a little more time consuming than slapping a grade on a paper, but it does look like a better way of supporting learning. I will try to move more in that direction because it makes sense. It is possible to do it with our learning management system as I have learned this summer.

Well back to the conference.

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