Blended and Personalized Learning Conference: post exploration

On April 1st, Ross Berman and Melissa Aguirre from MS 217 in Queens attended the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference. We asked them to reflect on their time at the conference, their big takeaways, and next steps. 

MelissaI appreciated the opportunity to think again about real-time data and how we can use this data to make meaningful instructional decisions. I was struck by this simple, yet often overlooked notion, that students must own their data and have access to it in order to make these decisions in partnership with peers and teachers. In one of our sessions, we experimented with Gooru.org, a platform that houses digital content and tools for students and teachers to monitor data. It led me to think more critically about the tools we are currently using at our school and how we can continue to improve our competency-based grading system to be more transparent for parents and students.

Furthermore, through a session about Ted Talks and Ted-Ed, I was inspired to rethink the ways we can engage students in more opportunities to improve their presentation literacy skills. As I observe my 8th graders in their other classes, including their performing arts classes in which they often exercise these skills, I think about the ways in which these same skills can be adapted and mastered for presentations about current events and issues they write and debate about in our ELA class. I plan to use some of the lessons offered through Ted-Ed to explore how to bring these skills to the forefront in these final months before my 8th graders’ transition to high school.

(Pictured from left to right: Melissa Aguirre, Ross Berman) ”  “

RossAfter attending the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference, I have some specific goals for my classroom. In the morning, I attended a session on students as self-directed learners, which stressed the importance of teaching students how to work independently. Before expecting students to be able to work independently, I must go over with them what I expect to look like in my classroom. At another session, the presenter showed us how to create higher level questions after a check for understanding. He recommended that we ask the students what error someone might have made to get a different answer than the correct answer.  Another question to ask the students can be to change the question to make a different choice the correct answer. I think this can be a great way to challenge my highest-level students.

One more goal of mine is to try different models of lessons. A debate I always have is when, and how often, to do group work in a personalized learning environment. To start to address this, I would like to try a station model lesson where one station is a group discussion. The most important thing I learned though at the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference is how lucky I am to have so much support from the iZone and everyone in the #NYCSchoolsTech community!