1000 ED: Stories from the Field: Phillips Academy and Connected Learning

06/13/2015 @ 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
El Capitan B

Organizers: Tang Institute team, Phillips Academy http://tanginstitute.andover.edu/
Presenters: Caroline Nolan, Director of the Tang Institute and Mike Barker, Director of Institutional Research, Phillips Academy

Intended Audience:
Teachers and Administrators (especially middle and high school)

Staff from Phillips Academy will share insights into the work-in-progress and development of components and potential approaches of connected learning in the real world of teaching.

About the Workshop:
The Tang Institute at Andover supports entrepreneurial exploration and innovative teaching and learning projects that are designed, developed, and implemented by our community. Our modes of operation are collaborative, experimental, and interdisciplinary, with a focus on bringing a range of connected learning ideas and practices into our classrooms and overall program. Early initiatives include explorations of new technologies and hybrid learning activities; new models for experiential learning; and creative curricular approaches on topics such as cultivating a learning disposition, mindfulness, and the digital humanities.

As we consider ways to (1) continue to support and cultivate a creative culture; (2) meaningfully and honestly assess what we do; and (3) grow, share, and scale the best ideas with new partners and potential collaborators, we are thinking carefully about the use of digital tools and networked approaches in facilitating those activities. We are eager to learn from and engage experts, practitioners, teachers, and learners from a wide range of fields to help us to deepen and expand our work. We are operating in a school context that centers on a commitment to equity and inclusion, alongside a goal of expanding the global perspectives and experiences of our students. Those guiding principles are applicable to a wide range of early Institute efforts.

With the hopes of engaging the expertise and insight of the DML community, this workshop will center on opportunities to translate early projects into tools and other tangible outputs that can be shared with, enhanced by, and further developed in partnership with other teachers and learners. Our Learning Disposition project, led by Tang Fellow and PA History Instructor Noah Rachlin, provides a concrete example and starting point that we hope will generate ideas and recommendations that are applicable to diverse practitioners and workshop participants.

During 2014–15, Noah has been engaging our community in conversations on the ways in which mindset, motivation, practice, and focus impact student learning. How can developing this ‘learning disposition’ enable students to see challenge—and struggle—not as impenetrable roadblocks, but rather as inevitable and meaningful opportunities for growth and development? Growing interest and research on the importance of “self-control, curiosity, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, zest, and grit” in predicting both school achievement and other meaningful life outcomes have led some in education circles to think more critically about opportunities to measure and teach these essential skills.

Throughout the series, we have built out a repository of learning tools—including readings, videos, and other resources—while also inviting student and faculty partners to contribute and co-develop tangible interventions and concrete strategies aimed at building and sustaining these important practices. Our goal is to empower students as the lead agents in their own learning and to equip them with the skills, competencies, and habits of mind that will allow them to drive their own growth and development in the classroom and elsewhere.

As we consider how to build upon this work, we are eager to use this workshop as an opportunity to focus on meaningful growth and networked approaches that can connect the work of this project with related efforts that many schools are developing. Some of the questions to consider include:

• What are the best ways to leverage and explore the potential of digital tools to enhance the effectiveness of a project that has its roots in analog experience?
• How might we more deeply embed and sustain the student experience, in the classroom and beyond? How might technology support the teaching and learning of these concepts?
• How can we develop assessment practices that help us to surface and identify the most useful approaches and ideas and encourage their growth and scaling?
• How can we tap into existing networks and cultivate a community committed to these ideas of mindset, motivation, practice, and focus, with the hopes of developing a common pool of good practices, concrete interventions, case studies, and resources that can be used by a variety of learners across diverse learning contexts?
• How can we use networked approaches to share our learning with new students and invite them to help us to actively co-develop and share these ideas in creative and powerful ways?

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