Featured Keynote Programs
Myth-busting, Ethics, and Practicality
Some parents, colleagues, school board members and business leaders struggle with what is and is not standards-based grading. Teachers and leaders using standards-based grading are facing some pushback from those with little background in it. As a result, they are backing away from something unusually effective in teaching and learning. Since current grading practices create very real futures, they better be accurate and ethical. Many traditional grading practices, unfortunately, are neither. This address presents the essential elements of standards-based grading, including its merits, potential pitfalls and candid responses to the most common concerns regarding its use. Vetted by decades of work in the U.S. and around the world, we will correct the misconceptions and make a compelling case for standards-based grading and student success.
Re-Dos & Re-Takes
Rationale, Myth-Busting and Practicalities
We become competent teachers by teaching a lot. We teach, receive critique, revise our efforts and teach again. Real learning that moves to long-term memory is demanding and reiterative, and we need to extend the same opportunities to our students in all fields of learning. Instead of applying uniform, arbitrarily sequenced, and unresponsive instruction, we can build proficiency with repeated, revised and meaningful engagement with content. Practical and research-based, join us for a provocative session in which we explore the pedagogical ethics and logistics for students re-doing assignments and assessments for full credit, and in such a way as to increase student maturation and achievement over that which could be achieved with "No re-do's allowed" policies. Real competence, not incompetence, is the best preparation for the next grade level, work and life. Indeed, every single profession demands reiteration for its dedicated, competent members. Let's not abdicate our adult roles in students' learning—let's build and maintain a constructive approach to re-learning and re-doing in the modern classroom!
Standards-Based Assessment and Grading
Join us for a candid and compelling look at what is and is not standards-based assessment and grading. We will explore what it means to be truly evidence-based in assessing and reporting students' achievements regarding standards and learner outcomes, and we will address the biggest concerns in grading today: averaging, zeroes on the 100-point scale, re-do's, percentages, grading scales, late work, valedictorian, what colleges are seeking, ethics/integrity, marking homework, extra credit, grade book and report card designs, formative vs. summative assessments, what constitutes evidence of mastery, reporting behavior/effort/character elements, disaggregation, and much more. Don't miss this chance to confront misconceptions and make the most of students' learning!
Note for Program Planners: A version of this presentation is available for school board and parent presentations for communities struggling with standards-based assessment and grading implementation or considering its use.
Cultivating Personal Creativity in Teachers and Students
Too often teachers and principals limit themselves to their current operating metaphors, seeing only one thing at a time and in a narrow dichotomy: we teach this way or we teach that way; we are higher or lower in some criterion; we use this technology and not that one. If we are not careful, we become trapped in an echo chamber of our own creation, thinking this is all there is, blind to the new democratization of knowledge. As students navigate a large and complex world, however, they need teachers who transcend linear and dichotomous thinking. More impactful than many building initiatives, cultivating teacher creativity helps teachers build resilience and solve instructional problems rather than succumb to complacency or blaming others. Join us for a fascinating and practical address in which we share specific elements of personal creativity and how to cultivate it in others.
What We Can Do When We Are Brave Together
Ambrose Redmoon once declared, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than that fear." In education, what do we judge as more important than our fear of rejection, being embarrassed, making mistakes or the confusion that may come? When we are brave together, we find the freedom, language and spirit to confront complacency and ineffective practice, and, even better, to do something about them. Join us for a candid address that affirms and provokes listeners with compelling questions about contemporary practices and specific action steps to consider if having enough courage were not a factor. Liberating, affirming and pushing all of us closer to the kind of teacher we always wanted to be, we reveal the practices and policies that cultivate teaching courage best. Radical to some, validating to others and steeped in modern pedagogy, we explore the specific, bold actions we can take today that lead to real student success. Leave timidity at the door and join us for an extraordinary presentation.
Differentiated Instruction in a World of Standards and Accountability
Differentiated instruction is a nice idea, but what happens when it comes to grading students or those high-stakes, standardized tests? Do we really believe what is fair isn't always equal, and it's okay to do different things for different students? Being sensitive to students' readiness levels and learning styles while holding them accountable for the same standards can be a challenge. What works? Join us for a provocative and entertaining address that examines differentiating instruction for diverse learners while also meeting the needs of standards and accountability. Affirming and confronting, the presentation busts differentiated instruction myths and gets to our core beliefs as educators.
Sure Footing in a Shaky World
Best Practices in Today's Classrooms that Stand the Test of Time
Decades in the future, what in teaching will we look back to today and declare, "Wow, we had that right," or, "Whoa, how could we have been so blind to students' learning?". Join us as the advanced-age version of Rick Wormeli in the year 2075 travels through a time vortex back to the current year. As his older and younger selves, Rick reminisces on the teaching and learning practices of today's classrooms that will stand the test of time to his contemporary world in 2075. With wigged out hair and an ever-young and creative mind, Rick rifts on educational salience, lifting those teaching/learning elements in modern practice that are sure to last into the decades ahead.
For Laughing Out Loud - This is a Great Profession!
From its humorous opening to its closing video "mockumentary" of teaching, this address shares funny, real-life situations that have occurred in schools that help us laugh at ourselves. Woven through the stories are practical tips about students and teaching that make the address more than just entertaining. Laughter is great way to create camaraderie as an education community, and it helps all of us manage the stress of teaching when we see the humor in our daily professional lives. Participants leave smiling, glad to be teachers and packing a few new perspectives and practical ideas for accomplished teaching.
Note to Program Planners: This keynote is the least substantive in terms of modern pedagogical content and research, though there is some of each. It is meant primarily as a fun experience, to find a way to laugh at ourselves, build camaraderie and is played for the humor in teaching. It's light-hearted and fun, which may be very valuable to participants, of course.
Formative Assessment, Descriptive Feedback and Summative Judgment
Principles and Practicalities
Teaching is not a "gotcha" enterprise, yet many assessment approaches fall into that category. Join us for a provocative workshop in which we identify fundamental elements of formative assessment and contrast them with elements of summative judgment. Critical to students' success, descriptive feedback from formative assessment will be emphasized as well. We will look at the validity of all three, busting a few myths along the way. We will emphasize clear and consistent evidence over time, rubric design, how teachers figure out what is important to teach, giving descriptive feedback, correlating assessments to objectives and dozens of formative assessment techniques. Use these principles and watch the dramatic, positive change in students' performance within days!
Rubric Design in Any Subject
It's not easy to design an effective rubric, but it gets easier with practical advice from veteran teachers, and they are often more accurate than percentage grades. With some rubrics, students learn a lot, but somehow their performance against the rubric does not reflect it, and with others, students learn little, but they smell like a rose on the rubric. Many rubrics can limit the next generation of thinkers, too, but judge them on the current generation's perception of excellence. In any subject, then, how do we design rubrics that provide accurate feedback, but also keep students advancing beyond their current teachers' sense of mastery? This workshop answers these questions while examining the differences between holistic and analytical rubrics, the practical do's and don'ts of rubric design, how to work smarter not harder with rubrics, the importance of professional conversation as we generate rubrics, and a rubric's advantages over other assessment and reporting tools. Don't miss this insightful workshop to launch and maintain rubrics in your classroom practice!
Fair Isn't Always Equal
Differentiated instruction is a nice idea, but what happens when it comes to grading students? Being sensitive to students' readiness levels, interests and learning challenges while holding them accountable for the same standards can be a challenge. What's fair and leads to real student learning? Join us for a candid look at what grades really mean, and how to handle students' failures, alternative assessments, focusing on evidence not the vehicles used to convey that evidence, averaging, zeroes on the 100-point scale, homework, late work, feedback, re-done work, extra credit, group projects, grading exceptional students, formative vs. summative assessments in grading (or not), sports eligibility, grading special education students in the regular class and much more. While offering practical tips, this workshop reveals participants' core beliefs about teaching and learning and has an unusually high incidence of transforming classroom practice. Don't miss it!
21st Century Homework Success
Principles, Practicalities and Products
Dealing with homework is a big stress for students, teachers and parents. What is ethical and doable, and what gets in the way of student success? Boost your students' homework completion rate with these highly motivating, easily applicable homework practices for the modern classroom. Yes, you can assign complex homework, get it returned with thoughtful responses, and have a life outside of school! We will look at when to give homework and when not to give it, as well how to assess it, how to motivate students to do it, how to design developmentally appropriate assignments for diverse students, how much homework to assign and much more. Join us for research-based and insightful ideas from a 36–year classroom veteran that generate inspired efforts by your students. Tonight's assignment? Reserve a spot in this session!