Here I am one week after the Deeper Learning Conference and I am still knee deep in reflection over what I learned. Today I want to focus on the first day of the conference where we started off with Deep Dive sessions. Prior to making the conference we had to sign up for a session. Being a LEGO and robotics nerd I had to sign up for the robotics session. What I as excited about was the concept that by forcing myself into this session I would begin to do things that I have always wanted to do, but never seem to find time to do.
You can see what all the sessions were by checking out the conference website. I know that each session was amazing. I know that there was a ton of talk about the lobster session with Ron Berger, but I have to say that my robot session sparked something in me that has pushed me into this massive ACTION stage where I am doing and not just sitting in the idea mode.
My session was titled, Dive into Teaching Science with Robots, Dr. Karl R. C. Wendt, Discover Create Advance
After some very brief intros we jumped right into the content. We were given a kit of materials along with a collection of tools for us to share with one other person. This was a key component because it did force collaboration and sharing which leads right into asking for help and working together to get some things done.
For me, I have never used solder or a solder iron and was a bit nervous. It was something I always wanted to do, but never have got around to doing. Right away I struggled to solder and burned my finger. Finally, after getting some help I figured it out. It was so cool!
This session was amazing. We had to follow videos so we could self pace ourselves. Some moved fast right away and some were slower. One thing that stood out to me was that no matter where we accelerated or struggled at the end we all finished within the same 20 minute window. We were able to move at a pace comfortable to ourselves.
I had a robot that had issues. My one sensor did not work and Karl wanted me to break it off and do another one. I did not want to do it because this piece took me forever to wire and solder. I was determined to make it work and after some trial and error I got it. It was awesome.
This session made me sit in the world of students. I was nervous at first worried that I would be in a room with experts and fall behind. I finally got over that notion and had to learn. I had to watch the materials over and over, I had to ask questions, and I had to try! After working hard I had things not work. I wanted to chuck my robot, step on it, and go play with lobsters. I stuck with it and when I had the steps finished to not have my robot work I was frustrated as all get out. Once again I had to go back, study, learn, and problem solve. Finally, the robot worked and when it did I thought I won the Powerball!
This session made me once again understand the power of choice. We had a say in what session we wanted to attend. It was then up to us to figure out how to learn the material and achieve the goal. By having this flexibility to make it our own it was interesting to watch what people did. Some chose to work on having the fastest robot. Some chose to have the straightest moving(me). Some just wanted it to work. Others were trying to accomplish all goals. Some went for looks. The key here is that despite the outcome we all walked away with some deeper learning.
To wrap up the day we had to do a short exhibition to discuss our deeper learning. People came in and wanted to see your robot work and understand how in the world we built what we built. It put us on the spot and by verbalizing our learning we either could deliver or not.
This was a powerful day for me. I walked away with confidence in some new skills. I was reminded of what it means to be a student again. I set new goals for myself both during that day and now later to enhance my robot further. Additionally, we are now inspired to develop and create some deep dives for our staff at the beginning of our school year next year as PD. We are brainstorming the proper way to develop these sessions so it is impossible to be negative. We have a lot of ideas and are excited to see where they develop and how they unfold come August.
Last, this was the best way to start a conference. We were not lectured to all day. We did not have to go to a bunch of sessions. Instead we were immersed with the learning and theme of the conference.
Looking at the goals of the conference I think we accomplished them all.
1. connect – I have made several new connections and have deepened my relationship with several old connections.
Yes, I met some new teachers from this session and connecting with a educator from my own school and people from the DLMOOC I strengthened some ideas and possibilities.
2. Experience – I have new ideas for how to better support deeper learning in my organization, school, or classroom.
Yes, I already moderated one Twitter chat on this topic and am working on deep dive sessions for the fall.
3. Norms- Be hard on content, soft on the people, step up and step back, follow the protocols, it helps others when they are taking a risk
Yes, these are all things I grapple with, but with this session forcing me out of my comfort zone I realized how important it is to have people that can do all of these things.