Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010

It’s back!!!

Plans are shaping up for an amazing 3rd Annual Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute, July 12-15, 2009 in Manchester, NH USA (near Boston).

In addition to master educators and edtech pioneers, the Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010 faculty includes history educator James Loewen and bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me; popular provocateur and author, Alfie Kohn; MacArthur Genius and incomparable school reformer, Deborah Meier; and children’s author, illustrator and animator, Peter Reynolds. Cynthia Solomon, Brian Silverman, Sylvia Martinez (that’s me!), Gary Stager and John Stetson round out the amazing faculty.

Constructing Modern Knowledge is a minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing. Participants have the opportunity to engage in intensive computer-rich project development with peers and a world-class faculty. Inspirational guest speakers, pre-conference expedition and social events round out the fantastic event.

Constructing Modern Knowledge is about action, not listening to speakers. Attendees work and interact with educational experts committed to maximizing the potential of every learner. The rich learning environment is filled with books, computers, robotics materials, art supplies, toys and other objects to think with.

The real power of Constructing Modern Knowledge emerges from the collaborative project development of participants. Each day’s program consists of a discussion of powerful ideas, on-demand mini tutorials, immersive learning adventures designed to challenge one’s thinking, substantial time for project work and reflection.

CMK 2010 info

21st Century educators need to develop their own technological fluency and understand learning in order to meet the changing needs and expectations of their students. Constructing Modern Knowledge will help participants enhance their tech skills, expand their vision of how computers may enhance the learning environment and leave with practical classroom ideas.

Spend four cool summer days in New England making puppets roar, robots dance, animations delight, movies move, simulations stimulate, photos sing and leave with memories to last a lifetime!

Each participant receives a suite of open-ended creativity software from Tech4Learning, LCSI, Inspiration Software, FableVision and other members of The Constructivist Consortium free-of-charge for use at Constructing Modern Knowledge and beyond. The software alone is worth the registration fee!

There is also a July 11th preconference Science and History Tour of Boston available for a nominal fee. Explore the future at the MIT Museum and visit the past during a private guided tour of the Boston Freedom Trail.

The institute is less than an hour’s drive from Boston in picturesque Manchester, New Hampshire. Free transportation is available from the convenient and affordable Manchester Airport. Discount hotel accommodation has been arranged at the institute venue.

Constructing Modern Knowledge is sensitive to the budgets of schools and educators by keeping registration costs affordable and by offering school/district team discounts. The institute is appropriate for all K-12 educators, administrators and teacher educators – private or public. CEUs are available for an additional fee.

Save $75 on early bird registrations! Register online now!


Reflections from previous years:

Constructing Modern Knowledge 2009

Wow, I’ve had this post in draft mode for way too long and it’s getting way too long as a result! This may turn out to be a couple of posts.

Constructing Modern Knowledge 2009 was July 13-16 in Manchester, NH. This is the second year for this event, and my second year being on the faculty.

First of all, the event once again exceeded my expectations, both in content and the attendees. The things that happened there and the conversations I’ve had fueled a lot of new thinking on my own part. There were also some things that I wished we’d had more time for.

At CMK, there are few presentations, so that the bulk of the time is spent working on projects and thinking about how these kinds of project experiences, especially using computers, translate back to the classroom. But two presentations stood out to me and invaded my thinking throughout the event and beyond.

Deborah MeierDeborah Meier was one. She was warm and grandmotherly, smart, and her presentation was amazing. And when I say presentation, it wasn’t a powerpoint. It was just her, standing in front of us recounting her own journey to becoming a progressive educator with insightful, interesting anecdotes that perfectly illustrated her points. Her appeal for a community-based approach to education and its connection to building our democracy was compelling and reinforced much of my work in regards to student voice.

I was glad that I re-read her book, The Power of Their Ideas on the plane ride to Manchester. It reminded me of how subtle ideas can be so powerful when executed with passion and care. Her talk reinforced how much work it takes over long periods of time to make things you care about sustain and grow.

Lela Gandini was the other speaker that brought it home for me. Dr. Gandini is the United States liaison for the dissemination of the Reggio Emilia approach, a revolutionary learner-centered approach pioneered in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Her presentation was complemented by amazing visuals of the Reggio schools and the work of children. The schools are constructed with deliberate care to provide space, light, and to support a creative learning environment. The attention to detail and the constant working towards making it better was fascinating.

Reggio is also built on having teachers carefully listen to children, document and discuss their work, and take direction from the interests of children to build a rich, layered learning experience. There is a lot of attention paid to the integration of art using rich materials to draw out children and help develop the child’s sense of self, and their place in the community and the world.

The juxtaposition of Meier’s focus on student voice as a part of creating a stronger democracy and the Reggio focus on listening carefully to student ideas to guide learning opened my eyes once again. They both were saying similar things, yet in subtly different ways. There were so many factors that go into creating these kinds of learning communities, not the least of which is the importance of engaging adults who are willing to be open to learning themselves and sublimating their own desire to quickly impart knowledge into a desire to guide children as part of a life-long learning journey.

Next post will be more about the attendees and the awesome project work we all did during the week. You may have also noticed that there seemed to be very little in this post to do with technology. I’ll talk about that later too. For now, though, just a few resources about these two remarkable women and “the power of their ideas.”

An online bookstore collection (by Gary Stager,) including books by Deborah Meier and books about Reggio Emilia.

More to come…


Every day is leadership day

Scott McLeod of the Dangerously Irrelevant blog has declared July 12, 2009 as Leadership Day 2009. He’s been doing this for two years now, and each year I’ve participated with a post.

  • 2007 – Leaders of the Future where I focused in developing the leader in every learner.
  • 2008 – Just Do It where I urged administrators to stop waiting for the district reorg or the next version of Windows or that bandwidth you were promised 3 years ago and get moving. Listen to kids, don’t listen the teachers who can’t seem to manage an email account, damn the torpedos and full steam ahead.

So what to do for 2009? I still believe that leadership has to be nurtured at every level. I still believe that we can’t wait for some perfect storm to implement our perfect plan. So what’s new?

What’s new in my mind is that it’s all linked together with choice, and more specifically agency. I’ve become increasingly aware that there is no leadership without choice at every level. I’m not talking about the now politicized “school choice” nor a meaningless choice between two barely distinguishable options. This isn’t about picking a red or blue cover for your 5 page essay. Students must have choices and true agency over their own learning.

To accomplish this, you must also have teachers who have choices and true agency over their own classroom and a say in their own school. Administrators who are leaders must have agency, choice, and a vision that others can follow – if they choose. If they are leaders, people will follow. But only if there is a real option to not follow. You aren’t a leader if everything is decided in advance. You aren’t be a leader if your followers are just there for the paycheck, or if they are students, graduation credit.

Leadership is inextricably bound to free will, in the same way democracy is.

And to insist on choice and agency, you must believe that learning is natural and that most children want to learn. You must believe that most teachers really do want to reach children and nurture that amazing natural spark; you must believe that most parents love their children and want what’s best for them. To believe otherwise is to crush that delicate flower with the iron glove of control. That’s not leadership.

Unless the people who live in schools day in and day out, principally the kids and staff, are entrusted to use their intelligence on behalf of the task at hand, we’ll not get change for the better. Anything else is inefficient, a waste of our precious time and resources.” Deborah Meier, The Power of Their Ideas 1995

I like Scott’s graphic for Leadership Day 2009 – but if it were up to me, every light bulb would be lit. That’s leadership.

Leadership Day 2009 logo