Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Storytelling, Student-Driven Passion Among the Highlights of LHRIC’s Tech Summit

A daylong schedule of keynote talks as well as demonstrations from some of the region’s leading technology vendors brought an array of local educators to the Nov. 2 Tech Summit 2015, sponsored by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center and held at Briarcliff’s Edith Macy Conference Center.

Angela Maiers, founder of Choose2Matter, speaks
at the LHRIC's Tech Summit
The Summit’s keynote topics were selected to help educators envision the future and to learn about successful programs that are “truly transformative in nature,” explained LHRIC Executive Director Dennis Lauro, in his introductory remarks.

“Students want to be in school, they wish to actively participate as contributors and creators of their own learning,” added Dr. Lauro, referring to the changes that are emerging in classrooms around the nation.

Dr. Lauro noted, in particular, the RIC’s Emerging Technologies Program, which was established over a year ago and is now in several local school districts. The program, he said, is here to help area teachers begin to make the change from a conventional classroom that uses technology to today’s classrooms where technology is transformational and is changing the way teachers teach and students learn.

The event also included several breakout sessions that included an update from Dr. Lauro on the state’s Smart Schools Bond Act technology purchasing requirements and the partnership opportunities the RIC can procure through its trusted technology vendors.

Jim Sill, director of global development for EdTechTeam, Inc., kicked off the stimulating day with a peak into the possibilities that video storytelling can provide for teachers and students, including ways it can highlight social issues.

Following a career as a TV and film producer, Mr. Sill transitioned to education, using his industry experience to create an award-winning video production program at a high school in Visalia, Ca., where he remained for several years.

During his morning keynote presentation titled, “Hi-Def EDU,” Mr. Sill introduced attendees to the kind of material he shares with educators all across the world, including Google’s collaborative tools and the social media and video production skills that are necessary to impact students’ education and their future careers.

“It’s all about stories that make an impact,” said Mr. Sill. “The film business has been doing this for a long time.”

Mr. Sill suggested that all schools use the SAMR model, a framework that is being implemented by educators to reflect on how technology can be used to enhance learning. The model, he added, is part of the national education curriculum in Australia, where Mr. Sill currently lives.

“You are the jumpers,” he said. “Throw the line over and make the bridge so others can follow along; that is an important piece of this.”

He also encouraged educators to be “beginnerish” about such video-based projects. “I know that’s hard for teachers because we are supposed to know it all and be the smartest person in the room, but often I like to give teachers permission to do that.”

Expanding the culture of passion and compassionate-driven learning was the basis for Angela Maiers’ breakout session titled, “Liberating Genius in the Classroom: Lessons for Launching Genius Hour.”

Believing there is a genius that lies within everyone, Ms. Maiers, the founder of Choose2Matter, passionately advocates for the kind of change she believes is necessary for the education system and for producing the next crop of graduates.

Beginning with a TedX talk she delivered in 2011 titled, “You Matter,” Ms. Maiers went on to create the Choose2Matter movement, a call to action that invites people to make “mattering” a way of life.

“If I knew that what I did mattered, if I was believed in and trusted, then I would run to school everyday,” said Ms. Maiers, the author of six books, including her most recent free e-book called, “Liberating Genius in the Classroom: The First 20 Days.”

In studying companies like Google and others that allow their employees to devote a portion of their work day to creatively thinking outside of the box. Ms. Maiers began to think about ways that schools could do something similar.

“How about one hour a week?” she said, referring to the initiative she created that is now known as “Genius Hour.”

“Would that be enough to change the thinking, to ensure that every kid and teacher mattered?”

The Choose2Matter movement has now reached sixty thousand classrooms in over 120 countries, where passion-driven work is the norm. Implementing the “You Matter Manifesto,” participating schools are encouraging students to accept their genius and to understand that mattering is a process, not an event and that it is essential to our existence, she explained.

In her afternoon keynote, “Getting TECH Right,” Ms. Maiers touched upon similar themes, noting that students who are passionate about the world around them and how they can make it a better place can often do so by the collaborative use of technology.

Forget the fancy tools that school districts often purchase, she noted. Instead, said Ms. Maiers, students should be shifting from a model of consumption to a model of contribution, sharing who they are, what they believe in and what they can do.

“Technology doesn’t motivate kids,” she added. “They are motivated by their ability to share, to collaborate, to make something extraordinary.” Ms. Maiers said humans in general are deeply motivated when they know they matter and are excited by what they can build together.

“Their future and their potential will be defined by what they share,” she said, referring to the importance of one’s digital footprint. “The difference is not technology; it’s the expectation.”