#IBNOLA2013 IB of the Americas Conference in New Orleans – Day One

On Thursday, July 18th, I flew to New Orleans to attend the conference held at the Hilton Riverside. The Opening Session began with a local children’s choir singing. Then began “A legacy of action: Empowering youth as agents of change” with Philippe Cousteau. Philippe is the President and co-founder of Earth Echo International and the son of Philippe Cousteau Sr and grandson of Jacques Yves Cousteau. EarthEcho hopes to engage and empower youth to take action for a brighter future. He is passionate about what is happening to our oceans and other ecosystems. He was very inspirational. I hope that I can bring more Earth social justice to my school in the next few years.

On Friday, Ben Walden discussed “Lessons from Shakespeare’s Henry V“. Ben has developed with Mark Rylance and Richard Olivier an experiential theatre learning technique called Mythodrama. He uses myths to make connections to students lives. Everyone enjoys a great story, use story telling. Ben describes Henry V in one slide. Act 1 assessing the past and visioning the future. Act 2 allocating resources, dealing with traitors. Act 3 First Steps, first blocks. Act 4 Dark nights of the soul, inspiring the troops. Act 5 achieving the vision, turning battlefield into a garden. During the dark night you need visible leadership. Lack of visible leadership during a crisis creates  It is not the leader who has faced the dark night you have to worry about. It is those that haven’t.. It is easy to win a war. It takes a generation to create peace. Ben asks us “Are you being appropriately selfish? Are you making you went into education?”  Neglect not the talents within. Live your vision statement Every teacher should have a mentor. Who is your “go to” person? Where do you go for reflection time? A great teacher is a life changer. A bad teacher is a very dangersous thing. The future of any nations is in the education of their youth. Ben was an amazing performer.

First Breakout session was Mary Ehrenworth with Evidence-Based Argument. Her work is at Reading and Writing Project. Argument writing includes argument speaking. Do some activities where the students get to help decide what will happen in the classroom. Ask them to take a side of the issue. Physically have them go to another side of the room depending on their side. Have them argue their point. The common core was not research based. Students won’t do the how without knowing the why. Start with the why. With students, ask about an argument they have won or loss and talk about how they felt and what happened. Now talk about how arguments should not be emotional. Use stories to have an argument students. Read “The giving Tree” and ask students is the tree weak or strong.  When you have done a few fiction samples, work with non-fiction because it is more weighing the evidence. Not all arguments are about winning. Some are about it giving perspective. One idea is principal writing a letter about a decision in the school and have the students make an argument for or against the decision. Always start with your folk knowledge and emotional attachment to remind them to suspend judgment, they need to be able to collect the evidence indiscriminately.  Teach the students the three steps, Claim, Reasons and Evidence. Organize the evidence by what is most important. One way to do this with young students is to print out the pros and cons and have students sort them. Media literacy is extremely important at all levels. Non-fiction is just one perspective of the truth. The Book “Oh, Rats” is a great one to sue for argument writing (http://www.amazon.com/Oh-Rats-The-Story-People/dp/B002N2XIC0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374514899&sr=8-1&keywords=oh%2C+rats).  Rubrics are helpful for teachers, checklists (written in 1st person) is helpful for students.

In the next session, Mary Hillberry presented on Visible Thinking. Use silent chalk talk to engage your students and it can be a your pre-assessment.  Project Zero from Harvard started the visible thinking ideas. As teachers we need to teach understanding not knowledge. Focus students on learning not work .Encourage deep versus surface learning. Promote independence versus dependence. Develop a growth versus a fixed mindset.  There are eight cultural forces that define classroom: time,. opportunities, routine & structure, language, modeling, interactions & relationships, physical environment,and expectations.  Think about your language, “What would students you repeat? What does that say about you? When students think of a right answer they believe there is only one answer, but many times, that is not true.  Let them explore and be creative. Remember to look at your students and think about what you want them to be like at the end of the year. May need to get Making Thinking Visible from Amazon. Some ideas are 10×2 to describe something. CSI – color, symbol, image to make them describe somthing. Use Tug of War for a debate by using a string with clothes pins to hang up the arguments. Don’t use wall space for finish projects, use them for showing the learning process.  Also could use Connect, extend, challenge for how all students need to give 100% during a project. Remember to under-instruct the students, to make them think. Use quote art to decorate the walls. Simple instructions “Draw the quote”.

The last session of the day was “Service Learning” with Cathryn Berger Kaye. The purpose of learning is not to take a test. It is to apply the learning to life. Service learning has academic relevance, rigor and application. Service learning should have youth initiative, voice, and choice. Service learning is inquiry based, career ideas, emphasis of intrinsic over extrinsic, aspects of social and emotional integration. Teach the students and our fellow teachers, If you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arms. Currently, adolescence goes through age 25. Not sure the source but that is amazing. Always start with an inventory of the students interests and skills. Then connect them with investigating the need and partner. Whenever you get the blank stares, give them a one minute think tank to talk to their neighbor. At the beginning of the year, have all students take a personal inventory, they can interview each other to work on listening and talking skills.  Can even us personal inventory with staff. Have students interview someone at home for a personal inventory.  If you copy from one person, it is plagiarism, if you copy from may, it’s research. Authentic action research is media, interviews, surveys, observations and experience. There are four types of four actions: direct service, indirect service, advocacy, and research. The problem with indirect service (donations, food drives, etc.) is that it teaches the students that they can stay an arms length away from the problem. Students will learn more from direct service.


The tweets for the weekend are at saved here.

Some of the messages are at: http://www.livestream.com/ibamericas


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