Posts Tagged ‘Vision 2020’

Vision 2020 – Wednesday

I hope everybody had a great day at Candyland Vision 2020 Tuesday and is ready for day 2.5 of professional development Mecca! Wednesday is the second day designed specifically for teachers, with many of the presenters also being held over for administrators on Thursday. For attendees who have come in groups from rural Oklahoma (where your district is safe – for now), the Wednesday/Thursday swing promises to have the most impact.

You can start the morning with an 8:15 session with the SDE’s STEM Director. His session promises to reveal where there are “pockets of excellence” in the state. I hope someone asks him how he knows there are only pockets of excellence and if this means that mediocrity is the norm. Math and science teachers who have met him already know that he’s more of a salesman than content area specialist, anyway.

General Sessions at 9:00 with Drs. Joseph Renzulli and Janet Allen should both pack a tremendous punch. Either would be a good selection, though they have perhaps opposite target audiences. Renzulli is a foremost expert in the field of gifted education; Allen provides strategies in teaching literacy skills that can be used with low-achieving learners and in all content areas. Hopefully both draw large crowds and educators missing one will have a chance to hear the other in a breakout session.

After that, the day becomes a series of good-sounding titles that may or may not be up to the hype. Implementing Inquiry-Based Science Standards is a good thing for science teachers. Robotics demonstrations are always good. Using iPads in the classroom will take on increasing importance in the years to come. In the end though, these are disconnected, one-shot, hit-or-miss workshops. This conference was put together with such little advance planning, that in the end, it won’t likely be the game-changer SDE officials are hoping for.

So come for the keynote speakers. Buy a Thunder t-shirt. Eat in Bricktown. Make some professional networking connections. Blow up the SDE’s Twitter hashtag #eduvision2020. And then head back to your district, knowing you may not see any of Barresi’s staff in person for another year.

Vision 2020 – Tuesday

June 11, 2012 Comments off

Tuesday at Vision 2020 is where the real fun begins. The Cox Center will be chock full of learning opportunities for the 4,500 reported registrants. And according to the multiple emails I received today, parking – in spite of the NBA Finals being across the street for the first time ever – will be in abundance.

Meanwhile, with a quick review of the program, I see several high-quality keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Featured presenters Bill Daggett and Cathy Seely are always worth hearing. Also, our state’s obsession with all things Florida and reading continues. And the K-20 Center is well-represented as always. Three sessions in particular, though, really caught my eye.

At 1:45, you could attend “The Marriage of Mr. Social Studies and Ms. Common Core: Introducing the Newly Adopted Oklahoma C3 Standards for the Social Studies.” Getting past the ridiculous name, this session promises to focus on “the role of citizenship literacy and development” and explain how the standards were designed. If you go to this one, you might want to ask the presenter why Oklahoma participated in the development of national standards for Mathematics and English/Language Arts, but opted out of national standards development for Social Studies and Science. It seems contrary to the narrative that has been woven across the last two administrations about the need to conform to national standards in education.

Another workshop at the same time that makes me smile is “Congratulations! You’re a Grandparent! A Genetic Look at Traits.” Unlike the Social Studies workshop, this one is just funny for the name. The description itself actually sounds like a pretty good lesson plan that would be engaging for students – which is always a good thing.

Not to make your selection even harder, but my other favorite workshop is yet again in the same time slot: “Party Like a ROCKST★R?” This workshop decries the increased use of caffeine by students and promises to give participants “the real bull on Red Bull.” Seriously. That’s what it says. It’s not clear, however, if the presenters will discuss the connection between increased stress caused by new graduation requirements that come with free abdication of privacy for any appellants.

If you aren’t afraid of the Thunder traffic and can stick around long enough to attend the 2:45-4:30 sessions, the workshop presented by two SDE staffers on “Using the New State Grade Card System” might be interesting. If you do, be sure to ask question one from my conference primer. They’ll love that.

Most importantly, enjoy the conference, and try to learn something. This is likely the only significant professional development opportunity the SDE will provide until this time next year.

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Vision 2020 – Monday

June 11, 2012 Comments off

If you’re going to Vision 2020 tonight for the Parent Power Night sessions, there appear to be some fairly standard offerings: basic information about Career Tech, substance abuse, college planning, cyber-bullying, and parental involvement in schools. At 7:00, however, a session titled “SDE Initiatives” is being offered in Room 1. This will be a 45 minute overview of:

  • The state’s waiver to No Child Left Behind;
  • The new evaluation system for teachers and principals;
  • The Common Core State Standards; and
  • College and Career Readiness.

I’m not entirely sure how one person can do any of those topics justice in that short of a period of time. Expecting that all will be covered adequately is certainly too much to expect. Maybe part of “parent power” is giving them just enough information to be confused.

If anyone makes it to the Cox Center tonight, I’d love to hear your insights.

Top Ten Questions to Ask at Vision 2020

Let me take a minute here to give the SDE more free advertising for Vision 2020. They’ve put together a huge conference in what seems to be a short period of time under a set of parameters that have been constantly changing. However the conference goes for them, I bet their ever-shrinking staff will be glad when the week is over.

For educators around the state, this will be a rare opportunity to interact with SDE personnel. Back in the olden days (2010 and before), the agency was full of professional educators who made it out to schools to provide technical assistance to districts. Since your direct contact with their staff is limited, and this is a great opportunity to meet with the people charged with supporting public education, I’ve compiled a top ten list of questions you might want to ask when you see them:

1. Why did it take until April to produce NCLB report cards, when Pearson produced correct data by the end of October?

2. After failing so badly to produce accurate data last year, why did the SDE renew the contract with Pearson?

3. Why does the SDE have more people working in communications than in STEM and Literacy combined right now?

4. Why does the SDE have a STEM director who never worked in public education in Oklahoma (and only in the distant past out-of-state)?

5. Why did the SDE’s Literacy Director quit meeting with school district personnel?

6. With mandatory third-grade retention for students not reading on grade level less than two years away, why did Superintendent Barresi choose not to fund Reading Sufficiency for 2012-13?

7. Where’s my chocolate fountain?

8. Why do so many of the high-performing reward schools come from affluent areas and so many of the high-improvement reward schools come from  high-poverty areas?

9. Who’s leaving next, and will it be voluntary?

And if you’ve paid attention to the insanity about posting student records on the Internet and releasing them to the media…

10. What were you thinking?

Feel free to add your own questions in the comment box. And if you go to Vision 2020 and get to visit with any SDE staff, I’d love to hear your stories – positive or otherwise.

Vision 2020, or Whatever We’re Calling it This Year

For the 20 years that Sandy Garrett was state superintendent, administrators from around the state gathered (usually at the Myriad/Cox Center) for her annual Leadership conference. I’m not going to pretend that this was the definitive professional development event of anybody’s summer. It was, however, a great time for school leaders to come together, learn about new legislation, receive allocation notices, and connect one-on-one with SDE staff who would spend the next year providing them with technical assistance in running their school districts.

Last year, following the elections of 2010, the Leadership conference was replaced with Innovation 2011, which was promoted with the intent of “bringing administrators the information they need to move education forward in Oklahoma.” I went, and the information consisted on, as would be normal, a review of the compendium of initiatives from the 2011 Oklahoma Legislature. This review lacked, however, any clarity about how the reforms would be implemented. The conference also consisted of numerous breakout and keynote sessions geared around discussing how schools are failing – proving that the SDE knows how to engage an audience.

Early in the 2011-12 school year, districts started hearing from their various contacts at the SDE that there would be no Innovation or Leadership conference in the summer of 2012. Instead, there would be a week-long conference geared around literacy. That plan changed, of course, and the SDE planned what is now being called Vision 2020.

(By the way, I don’t know for certain if this is supposed to be some kind of joke – that a dentist would have an optometrist theme for her major conference. Or if maybe we’re trying to see eight years into the future when none of the people enacting these reforms are still serving in policy-making roles.)

This is a week-long conference starting Monday, June 11, with no appreciable theme. One day is for parents. The next two are for teachers. The last two are for administrators. Sessions cover curriculum, policy, product promotion, and everything else imaginable. Last I heard, over 2,000 people are registered to attend.

That wasn’t always the case, however.

Originally, the conference was going to cost $25 per attendee. This was going to include one day’s parking pass and one lunch session with a keynote speaker. Then, one day, the SDE realized that they couldn’t pay for open-ended parking passes, but everything else was the same. About a week after that change, registration became free on the SDE website, but attendees could still select a luncheon for $25. Then that changed too; luncheons were now $8.

So it took several iterations in planning, but now the SDE has a new conference. Content for breakout sessions was only posted this week. In that time, some of the content of the luncheons that people have paid for has even been altered, even if the program does not reflect this. In short, a lot of people are going to show up next week, hoping that their time isn’t being wasted.

If you go, and you have a story to tell about the conference, shoot me a message, either through my blog or my Twitter account. I’d love to share the grins and giggles we’re all expecting in this space.Image

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