Takeaways from the EL Education National Conference - Celebrations of Learning, Connections, and Passages

These are my notes and takeaways from this year’s EL Education National Conference.

Takeaways from the EL Education National Conference - Celebrations of Learning, Connections, and Passages

I love everything about attending professional development conferences except getting ready for the guest teacher. My brain is full and I’m tired as I reflect on the past three days in Denver. I’m also leaving hopeful with new ideas to implement.

These are my notes and takeaways from this year’s EL Education National Conference.

Setting Yourself Up For Success: Celebrations of Learning

  • Taking time to celebrate student work has numerous benefits, including building community and providing an authentic audience for student work.
  • Exhibition Nights, also known as Celebrations of Learning, allow parents to support their children and other students in the learning community.
  • These culminating events involve students presenting high-quality work to a significant and authentic audience, along with reflecting on their learning.
  • A school-wide celebration day could be an excellent way to celebrate learning and engage the entire learning community.

Integrating the Arts and Sciences

  • Offering students choices in their learning supports all learners and provides authentic differentiation opportunities.
  • The use of choice boards, such as Tic-Tac-Toe choice boards, allows students to demonstrate their learning in their preferred way.
  • Student choice builds ownership of learning and helps with classroom management as students are more likely to engage with the tasks they have chosen.

Shred the Gnar - Ski Slope Modeled Playlists

  • The Ski Slope Model, inspired by skiing, provides different levels of challenge for students to progress through.
  • Students must successfully complete lower-level challenges before moving on to more advanced ones.
  • The model can be implemented using platforms like Google Sites or Google Docs, where students receive support and encouragement from teachers.
  • The Ski Slope Model aligns well with the Understanding by Design framework and promotes student engagement and motivation.

Bag of Tricks - Resources for Crew Connection and Student Leadership

  • Led by students, blended crew circles provide opportunities for mentorship and academic support among students.
  • Students are capable of great things if we put them in leadership positions with just the right level of support. The opening of this conference was amazing. Students brought energy and expertise to showcase the amazing things they were doing at their school. They also offered powerful advice - school is better when it’s done with students, not "to" them.
  • When you have a room full of educators you have a room full of resources and infinite possibilities.

Connections as a Catalyst for Change - Making Connections

  • Building strong relationships is crucial, and intentional connections between adults, students, families, and peers contribute to school-wide success.
  • Developing a common language and understanding of the factors that contribute to connections, such as proximity, similarity, vulnerability, and shared experiences, is essential.
  • Listening plays a vital role in collaboration and fostering meaningful connections.

Mindfulness in the Elementary Classroom

  • Incorporating moments of peace and mindfulness activities, such as musical circles and prompts, can help create a calm and focused learning environment.
  • The Neurosequential Model of Regulate, Relate, Reason supports social-emotional learning and holistic child development.
  • Building mindful moments in the classroom is just as beneficial for the teachers as for the students.

AI for Expedition Planning - What Chatbots Can Do For You

  • Learning expeditions, centered around key standards, engage students' curiosity and connect various disciplinary concepts.
  • Prompt engineering and the use of chatbots can enhance learning experiences and foster critical thinking.
  • It is crucial to balance artificial intelligence with human connection and maintain the core aspects of what makes us human.

Meaningful Passages

  • What are passages and why are they important? Focusing on the process of becoming who you are.
  • Passages can be celebratory and for assessments.
  • Things to keep in mind:
    • Logistics
    • Structure
    • Character Threads
  • Many schools have multiple passages.
  • Opportunities for fieldwork to reflect for passages (in nature).
  • It's important to prepare the students and the audience for passages.

This year's EL Education National Conference was a rich and inspiring experience. The sessions I attended provided valuable insights into celebrating student work, promoting student agency, fostering connections, and integrating different subject areas. The conference reminded me of the power of collaboration and the importance of building strong relationships with students, colleagues, and families.

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend such a thought-provoking event, this year as an ELfluencer. As I looked for things to share I quickly became overloaded. Amazing things were happening everywhere. There was no way to share them all.

Together, we can create meaningful learning experiences that empower our students and foster their growth. Stay tuned for more updates and reflections in the upcoming edition of the TGIF Teacher Newsletter! More to come.

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