Tuesday, September 23, 2014

EdSummit LASD - A Stepping Stone on our Journey to Revolutionize Learning for all Students

Over the past four years, Los Altos School District has been on a journey to revolutionize learning. This journey has led our entire team down a path of continuous learning, growth, creation and questioning.   This year, we created EdSummit LASD to help fuel the desire to learn.  EdSummit LASD was a three day learning event designed to begin "breaking silos in education."    While the primary audience for this event was teachers, we also invited parents and community members to join the conversation.  After months of planning, it is hard to believe the three day event has come and gone.  Looking back on the summit, I am happy to share EdSummit LASD was a huge success.  Here are a few of the highlights...

Opening Keynote: Creating Conditions of Discovery & Inquiry in Our Schools

Acclaimed authors, Lisa Kay Solomon and Warren Berger engaged attendees in a provoking conversation about innovation in schools.  Drawing on their insights from their newly published books Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations that Accelerate Change (Simon & Shuster, 2014) and A More Beautiful Question, Lisa and Warren explored new ways of thinking about how to create cultures and conditions for discovery and lasting impact.  The conversation also explored the rationale for why it is critical for us to create more inquiry driven models of instruction that foster discovery and personal engagement.   The opening keynote was held at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts where we were able to welcome all interested parents, community members, teachers and administrators from across the Peninsula.

Lynn Carruthers, a graphic artist and visual thinker, beautifully captured Warren & Lisa's conversation. (image below)  Lynn  even managed to capture a personal favorite from the talk - depicting a four year old girl as the "Super Ninja" of questioning!

EdSummit LASD Sessions, September 19

Excited to learn more about questioning after the opening keynote, 380+ attendees gathered at our Covington campus to explore, learn, network and collaborate together.  Attendees were able to choose from 65+ sessions facilitated on a range of topics.  Sessions were either 90 mins (allowing for a deeper dive into a topic) or 45 mins (meant to ignite thinking and start conversations).  A special thank you to all  74 of our facilitators!  While facilitators came from all over the state, we are especially proud that we had so many of our own teachers facilitating sessions.  Just under half (46%) of all facilitators came from LASD.  It was incredible to see our teachers taking risks to share what they have tried and what they are learning as we work together to revolutionize learning for students.

We were also thrilled to have several incredible authors join us to share their thinking:  Grant Lichtman, author of #EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education; Patricia Ryan Madson, author of Improv Wisdom and Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate.  If you are not familiar with these books, I encourage you to read them - collectively they paint a picture of the future of education that we hope to create for our students!  With so many sessions happening simultaneously,it is nearly impossible to capture all of that took place.  Thankfully twitter helped us capture and share some wow moments from attendees.  Below are a few, more can be seen by searching #edSummit on twitter.

EdCamp Los Altos, September 20

After a full day of facilitated sessions, we intentionally scheduled a Saturday morning EdCamp Los Altos.  EdCamp is a participant driven learning event, which means there are no formal plans, or presentations.  The attendees decide what they want to learn and how they will facilitate these conversations.  We had about 60 EdCampers attend bright and early Saturday morning - the topics included formative assessment, to rethinking report cards, student centered learning, using technology to simplify your life and many others. To understand more about the why behind EdCamp, take a look at this recent article by Kristen Swanson, founder of EdCamp:  Why We EdCamp  Fueled by the previous day of learning and networking, EdCamp Los Altos was the perfect ending to EdSummit.

It's a Wrap!

That's a quick summary of EdSummit LASD - an incredible event and one that we certainly hope to continue.  Creating high quality teaching learning experiences is one of the most important things we can do to improve student learning.  It's necessary and greatly appreciated by our teachers.

"Thanks for all of your effort in providing us with the most useful and inspirational learning day that I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending!" 

"I left EdSummit feeling so inspired, reflective, excited, and eager, which is food for an educator's soul.  The format of today, the choice, the presenters, the content, the time with colleagues...it was priceless."

Stay tuned for more information on future EdSummits hosted by Los Altos School District.  Join us next time and add to the conversation.

Contributed by Alyssa Gallagher, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Community Partnerships

LASD a Leader at the CA STEM Symposium

In the spring of 2013, Los Altos School District with the support of the Los Altos Educational Foundation made a decision to invest in STEM education for all elementary students.  We hired a STEM teacher for each of our seven elementary schools and created STEM learning opportunities for all students beginning in Kindergarten.  It has been wildly successful!  Our STEM teachers are incredibly motivated and dedicated individuals who have helped us create rich experiences for students both inside and outside the structure of the traditional school day.  In our first year, our team focused on building out a new computational thinking strand, engineering, and physical science. We are proud of our accomplishments and are equally as excited to continue learning, growing and improving our STEM program.

While we are only in year two, it is very exciting to see that Los Altos School District is a leader at this year's California STEM Symposium.  This annual symposium brings together 3,000 teachers, administrators, students, high education representatives, program providers, philanthropic representatives and industry representatives to engage them in STEM education by providing strategies and resources for program implementation.  The Symposium is designed to highlight leaders in classroom innovation from across the state.  Los Altos School District STEM teachers presented nine different sessions over the two day symposium.  Below are the topics/sessions presented by LASD STEM teachers:

  • Maker Movement
  • Creative Circuits
  • STEM in K-5: Bee-bots to Lego We-Do
  • Bring Creative Computer Science into STEM for all Students
  • Bee Bot Buzz: Computer Science in Kindergarten, First & Second Grade
  • Computational Thinking in STEM through Scratch
  • Khan Academy Spout Bot: Building a Robot
  • Literacy & Engineering
  • Teaching in Depth: Implementing Virtual Labs in the Classroom

We are thrilled to have our district acknowledged as a leader in developing STEM education programs as we know providing these new learning experiences enhances our students ability to think critically, problem solve and work collaboratively. Thank you to our parent community for donating to Los Altos Educational Foundation, the LASD STEM program is a direct result from your contributions.  

Contributed by Alyssa Gallagher, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Community Partnerships