February 27, 2005

Well, Here's Another Fine Mess I've Gotten Myself Into

In December I got a phone call inviting me to keynote the opening session for the PT3 strand at the SITE Conference in Phoenix. As it happened, I had just come from a troubling meeting of the advisory board for a local charter school. This school has great teachers, lots of technology, good leadership, but isn't moving its kids sufficiently quickly into what NCLB calls "Proficient", largely because kids come to them woefully unready for academics of any kind. They are in danger of being closed down, so to survive they've redesigned their mission for a new five year charter and threw out any mention of experimentation or innovation. The new charter is all about standards-based, skills-oriented, raise-the-test-scores activities. Sad, I think, remembering what great things they were doing a few years ago.

So it was a weird and disheartened mood that caused me to agree to do the keynote, and I quickly came up with this for a title and description:

Dreams vs. Data: Staying Creative in an Era of High-Stakes Everything

As everyone struggles to leave no child behind, there's less time or support for genuine innovation in educational technology. How can we forge ahead with new models that nurture inquiry, creativity and critical thought while working within a system driven by easily measured outcomes? This session will provoke you to think creatively to relieve this decade-long tension headache.

Sounds like a great session, right? I'd enjoy hearing what the speaker has to say. But...oh crap... the speaker is ME!

So now, two days before I stand and deliver, I've got a big pile of snippets and no coherent presentation. I'm going back and forth about how opinionated to be, trying to imagine what the audience wants to hear, reaching inward to something non-obvious to contribute... I hate this stage of the process.

We'll see how it goes.

February 14, 2005

Not Blogging, but Not Dead

Yet again there's been a long blogless stretch and now I'm beginning to get emails from friends asking if they'd missed the funeral. Alas, it's nothing so dramatic as that. I've just been spending every spare minute on a Sooper Secret™ project that I finally revealed at the TCEA conference in Austin last week. I had two groups of 30 teachers each for a full day workshop and they gave this new thing a workout.

In general they loved it, and so now I'm even more motivated to spend every spare minute working on it. I'll roll it out for real at the NECC conference in June, but until then, if I haven't returned your call or answered your email, this is why.