25 March 2011

ASCD 2011: Saturday Possibilities

It's been a lovely Friday afternoon getting ready for the ASCD conference. I went to the Moscone Center to pick up my press badge, badge candy (presenter ribbon), and Scholars packet. I stayed for the Welcome reception---live music, warm Asian foods, and diabetic coma-inducing desserts. While there, I chatted with a pair of educators from the Virgin Islands (who thought SF was cold), four administrators from Regina, SK (who thought SF was warm), and a gaggle of NYC public school teachers (who were having hot flashes and therefore had no comment about SF weather).

Tomorrow is a buffet of sessions. I'm still in the process of making the final choices. Here are the top four I am looking at for the 8 - 9:30 timeframe:
  • Beyond Reteaching and Regrouping: Using Data to Dramatically Improve Instruction---I am always on the hunt for strategies to share when it comes to reteaching, especially for secondary teachers. This seems to be a weak point in many classrooms.
  • Teacher Assignment: The Key to Maximizing Student Learning---This one is on the list because the description makes me a little nervous. But, sometimes controversy can be a good thing. If I don't find coffee tomorrow, I'll go get my adrenaline pumping here.
  • Assessing 21st Century Skills---A session that is high on the list for this timeframe, mainly because it directly relates to my current job and I am interested to see how others are trying to solve the same problems that we have.
  • Conferring with Students: Practical Strategies That Close the Achievement Gap---Another one that is at the top of my list. I'm a firm believer in collecting and using qualitative data in the classroom. This session has a secondary focus, which represents the grade levels least likely to include student conferences as part of the assessment process.

Then, in the afternoon, between 1 and 3...
  • Teaching With Poverty in Mind---Could be another controversial session. I do have an earlier book by the presenter/author (Eric Jensen) and am interested in his take on reaching our ever-growing populations of children living below the poverty line.
  • Working Successfully with Difficult and Resistant People---Dude. Who couldn't use a session like this?
  • I'm also interested in Guskey's session on Fair and Meaningful Grades for Exceptional Learners, (natch) a couple of sessions on differentiation/tech integration, and one on using Social Studies and Math to Teach Social Justice.

At the end of the day (3 - 5 p.m.), I'm looking at
  • Boosting the Cognitive Complexity of Instructional Tasks and Assessments---Anyone who uses Webb's Depth of Knowledge over Bloom's for designing assessments is a person after my own heart.
  • Collaboration Through Technology for Assessment Information---presented by Jen from Elementary My Dear, or Far from It. I'll totally go to this one. Go, Jen, go!
  • There are also a couple of sessions on increasing rigor and a few on tech integration that pique my interest.
As you can see, it's going to be a busy Saturday.  I also have a Scholars Luncheon, may peek in on the Keynote, and there's an Edutopia tweetup in the evening. If I'm lucky, I'll get to the Exhibit Hall or chat with a few other bloggers.Do you want more information on the conference? Visit ASCD's Web site: http://www.ascd.org/conferences/annual-conference/2011.aspx

What I love about ASCD---and that I don't find at any other conference---is the representation of ideas. How wonderful to be in a position to have so many choices...to see all of the ways the pieces of our schools can fit together. It is rejuvenating to be in a place where the focus is where it should be: kids and teachers.

Here's hoping I remember to show my enthusiasm in appropriate ways...

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