Virtual Conference Starts Tomorrow!

The Virtual Conference on Core Values (#vccv) starts tomorrow (July 1st, 2011)!  We hope you will read, comment, post, discuss, share, disagree (respectfully), think, evaluate, reevaluate, ponder, wonder, unpack, rejuvenate, re-inspire, and enjoy!

We have some great speakers lined up and you are welcome to become a speaker as well; just make a post on your own blog in answer to the prompt.  This is a time to step back from the every day tasks of teaching and look at the broader picture.

Here is the Conference Center (go here to see an explanation and links to all the “speakers”)

Here is the form by which you should submit your post.


But Wait, There’s More! #vccv

It is my pleasure to announce that four more excellent writers will be fortifying the framework of the virtual conference this year:

Michal has been a big help in finding and coordinating communications with these presenters, and I’m excited by the lineup – especially since these four new presenters are outside my usual network.  In this conference about the core values and the basic motivations of education, I hope we are all stretched in a useful way.  Still, there are a few demographics painfully absent from the lineup of speakers, and perhaps the most painful is: students! If you are in contact with students during the summer, please think about who you know that’s still in school that would like to contribute.  Too often we forget to ask our charges what they think of what we’re doing, and what they think the point of all this is!

You can see the whole schedule at the convention center.  It starts in July! I hope you’ll participate.  On July 1, we’ll make a kickoff post with instructions for submitting your piece.

Thanks for your enthusiasm! Get those posts ready! Plus: extra credit for any presenters who use a format other than “the article.”

PS: I’m joking about the extra credit. The last time I joked about it I lost 10% of my readership.



You Really Think Blocking The Internet Is A Good Idea?

The number one reason to give everyone in a school unfettered access to the internet is that a positive community of children and adults can form around it. When you say that staff shouldn’t be friends with students on facebook, you’re wrong because:

  1. Societal norms are still forming around all of our new technology, and
  2. For goodness’ sake, I want some adults involved in the process!

Online bullying, pornography, blah blah blah.  Those are good reasons to be wary of the internet. Can anyone defend them as good reasons to separate our children from our adults, and send the kids off alone?  Does anyone else hear people saying, “we are worried about kids forming inappropriate online relationships, so we’re making sure they can’t have a relationship with the people who take care of them all day?” Am I the only one that hears the silent let’s-just-pretend-the-bad-people-will-follow-this-rule-too at the end of that sentence?

A Single Positive Example That Surely Applies To Everyone

About a year ago I was singing the praises of CPM, an excellent set of math courses. I didn’t teach this year, but a student (who shall remain anonymous because I have absolutely no idea who he/she is) just commented this post.  This student was very angry about his/her own experience with Algebra 2:

My terrible Algebra 2 teacher taught me with this equally terrible book: tell me, why is it that the Guided Practice section doesn’t help me ONE FUCKING BIT? And how exactly are we being “taught” when the first questions we get only give the final term, which is usually a 4th degree/5th degree polynomial with no other information? Long Division > Polybullshit x 10000000. Yeah, everyone using this book or even just this stupid method is fucked for life.

I went to twitter for advice, and got several responses, including:

@rileylark Ouch. It's a cry for help, albeit an inappropriate one. Help him with math. Help him discover a better way to ask for help.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad Favorite Retweet Reply

@rileylark don't think S is looking for anything. Just wanted to vent.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

@rileylark Yikes! Do you know which student? My first reaction is a one on one sit down talk to figure out exactly what he doesn't get.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@rileylark empathy and caring and validation, empathy and caring and validationless than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

@rileylark clearly a kid who is really frustrated with math right now.less than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

A couple of people also left responses directly. I wrote to the student in an email,

Hi, and thanks for reading my blog. I’m responding privately to say that your outrage about your math education makes a lot of sense. I don’t know where you took Algebra 2 or anything about you, but I’ve seen enough classrooms (and been dragged through some bad ones myself) to know that your feelings are justified.

I also want you to know that I’ve connected with a few other teachers about your comment and I’m gathering my thoughts to respond more publicly.  I think I’ll probably end up writing about this experience, since that’s how I learn and process my learning.  You’re invited to keep reading and responding to everything, of course. I’m assuming that I was not your teacher (let me know if I was!), and I know that there are many adults who do not respect anyone younger than themselves, so I understand why you would start by disrespecting me. From now on, I will only accept comments from you written with the basic assumption that we’re all trying to figure out a better way to teach and learn.
What I’m trying to show is that there were six adults ready to respond with concern late at night.  Maybe some of us responded imperfectly, and I’m still worried that I shouldn’t be sharing the email I sent, but we’ve all got this students’ interests in mind.  We’re showing by example how we want interaction on the internet to happen.  We have our own supportive community of adults… for goodness’ sake, let’s bring our kids into it!

Virtual Conference Keynote Speakers #vccv

Everyone is invited to participate and present in the virtual conference on core values (#vccv) this July. All you need to do is respond to the prompt, on your blog, and email me. I’ll update the program at the convention center with your post!

Each year, though, there are “keynote speakers” who provide a basic structure for the conference. This year, I am honored to announce:

These four men are actively engaged in defining education, and I’m excited about the conversation we’ll have this year.  If these four can’t motivate you to write about your educational philosophy… well, even if we can’t get you to share your thoughts in an article, I hope you’ll join the conversation in the comments!

I want to especially encourage you to post if you’re a woman, of an ethnicity not already represented, or of a country other than the United States. I regret finding only white men from the US to lead the conference, and sincerely hope to hear a wider range of values and perspectives represented this July.

This is the second annual virtual conference at Point of Inflection, and I’m honored to have so many presenters and attendees. Thank you. I hope we have an inspiring… and helpful… conversation!