Some more differences between the conferences…. Amazingly, unlike the ILCE Constructivist Institute where we get a number of teams from St. Lawrence University, there is no one from the San Marcos Education Department here. They are missing a great opportunity.
If you were at the last couple of New York Institutes you have experienced the leaps and bounds made in the area of technology. Well here at San Marcos they have taken it another leap. Other than us old timers (Bruce & I) there is very little easel paper being used by facilitators. The teams using little or no paper seem to be kept logged onto the college network better than our teams are. Web access has been okay for most but for some reason random computers will lose access. It has been very frustrating at times. I think perhaps a finer balance needs to be found between paper and paperless activities. My feeling is that if you are creating a document that you are are going to regularly reference then it is nice to have it on paper so the entire group can reference it easily. It you are creating mind maps and other graphics, again, it makes sense to make them on paper. (You can always upload photos of it to the digital portfolio.) If you are collaborating on a written document then you can’t beat Google Docs. It is amazing to have a team all working on the same document simultaneously. Our team’s supervisor stopped by today and I would have been at a loss if we hadn’t had “artifacts” on the wall to share our intellectual journey.
As I mentioned yesterday the size of conference is a big difference. The small size of the conference makes it incredibly intimate. I thought today that it wouldn’t be too hard to do a large group activity with the entire conference. An icebreaker would be fun for fifty people. I’ll have to recommend that for next year if it doesn’t grow too much.
Another big difference between the conferences is the number of days and how the workshops are conducted. The conference here is only four days instead of New York's five which obviously provides some time challenges. The workshop sessions are a little shorter (45 minutes vs 60) and rather than one session per day as New York does they run two back to back workshop sessions for two days. All total there is one less workshop session than in New York which is pretty amazing considering that there is one less day for the conference.
It was fascinating to watch our team from REACH Academy experience the paradigm shift today as they appeared to “get it” regarding the difference between a traditional teacher-centered environment and a student-centered environment. It will be interesting to see if the school can successfully make the transition. Mary Bedley and Jeff Morabito, teachers at Sycamore Academy, have been indispensable in helping the teachers see how a student-centered classroom can indeed be created at the elementary level. Kudos to both of them.
I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.