My Educon Conversation

One of the best things about Educon is the nature of the sessions, called “Conversations.” It is unconference in practice, meaning that the session leader does not teach for learning, but, instead, his job is to generate conversations among the attendees from which everyone learns. It is not a hive mind at work, but a sharing and mixing of many ideas and perspectives, from which group and individual meaning can be found. It is beautiful!

Participant Grid

Group Grid

I have led numerous such unconference sessions, mostly to the delight of participants, who often write in their evaluations that these sessions were among the most rich in learning. I continue, though, to walk away feeling that I didn’t do my job, because I didn’t teach anything. It’s the school romantic in me. I’ll get over it.

I have felt, for some time, that the conversations I facilitate lack anchor points or magnetic positions around which to latch ideas. They are typically rich in backchanneling, which will certainly be the case at Educon, and there is great value in using each other for gaining traction. But I’ve felt for a while that something more firm was needed.

So, in addition to channeling ideas through Twitter, during my conversation, I will be asking participants to map their ideas along a bi-directional rubric (see “Participant Grid” on right), giving us all a ladder, on which to climb as we suggest ways of ramping up traditional classroom practices (all recently witnessed in existing classrooms) into learning experiences that take thinking to a higher level and make learning a more relevantly active engagement.

It will work like this:

  1. Participants will load a rubric onto their computers, with two scales, Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy going vertical, and Daggett’s Application Model along the horizontal.
  2. I will suggest a classroom learning experience that was recently witnessed in a classroom, asking participants to click the point on the grid at the point of intersection along each scale.
  3. A grid will be displayed (see “Group Grid” on right) that shows all of the participant’s clicks, indicating where individuals and the group think we are with the activity.
  4. Here, I will ask questions like, “Somebody thinks that this activity involves analysis. What is it about the activity that achieves this?” And, “How might we enrich this activity to include a measure of analysis and make it relevant in other subject areas?”

My goal is to use the tool to steer conversations about specific learning practices, drilling through the theory to describe exactly what teachers and learners are doing, and perhaps even suggest learning experience that no one in the group has yet imagined.

..Or it may not work at all. That’s the thing about conversations. They wouldn’t be interesting if they didn’t go in unpredictable directions.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.