BPLC18 Highlights & Reflections

It’s been a week since I came back from BPLC (Blended & Personalized Learning Conference) in Providence, Rhode Island and I wanted to write down some thoughts, as well as share some useful resources:

  • At the beginning of the Advanced Practitioner Summit, I was able to go to a site visit at a local elementary school. While I enjoyed observing the classrooms, one of the highlights was interviewing a small group of 5th and 2nd grade students about their experiences using the Summit Platform and what they enjoy about school. The feedback they provided was very interesting:
    • They did not love independent work on the platform… they said it felt lonely and they spend a lot of time on their devices at home. I don’t think, however, that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater– we just need to find ways for students to work in meaningful ways where they do not default to screen interaction.
    • Collaborative experiences with other students were their favorite activities
    • On Fridays they get to do some learning activities that they chose: at the beginning of the school year they indicate what they are interested in taking: A swimming class, sports, STEAM, Website building, etc. So then they get to participate in that class once a week on Fridays. And they said it was among their favorites because they get to build things, have a big say in what they get to learn.
  • Shareyourlearning.org : I got to sit at a table with Michelle, one of the founders of this movement to get students to share their learning publicly. I absolutely love some of the unique and interesting ideas around students sharing learning!
    • Student-led conferences: Include students in parent-teacher conferences and let them lead the way in sharing their learning progress
    • Connect with community.
  • Givethx.org : A new platform that is trying to apply research-based principles of gratitude and emotional well-being into the classroom! Such a great idea.
  • Learning-commons.org : We have far too many various professional development websites with information about blended learning strategies. This is an open-source platform built specifically to house all of them in one easy t0 search location. This is a new venture by The Learning Accelerator.
  • Another TLA Measurement Fellow, Elizabeth Anthony, presented her research observations in high and low performing blended classrooms. She wanted to know what instructional practices that she could observe would differentiate the high and low ones (she used indicators from the Danielson Framework). She found that three indicators really differentiated the two classrooms… but I don’t want to steal her thunder. When she publishes something, I will share it here.
  • The Rapid Cycle Evaluation Coach : This is an online tool to help school leaders that are not familiar with research methodology to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of new interventions in their school. It helps them to frame their research question, set a benchmark for success, and evaluate whether a new technology or tool is really making a difference in the student outcomes. It is built for quantitative inputs/outputs. I think a tool like this, when used with effective guidance, could help teachers become more data-minded about the decisions they make. Hopefully evidence from this tool plus qualitative observations could be corroborated to show the real effect of an intervention from the teacher standpoint and the student score standpoint.


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