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TOULOUSE, FRANCE… CAN IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS???

I am so very excited to share out with you some inspiring ideas to support innovative teaching strategies I have gleaned while attending and presenting at the Practical Pedagogies conference in Toulouse,France in October. The #PracPed15 conference is a must attend and present at conference if you ever get the opportunity. The whole conference focuses on how to engage and support inquiring minds of teachers and learners. It is not about the device...it is about the learning. A very special thank you to Russel Tar for organizing this conference and for the personal invite and to present at this global event! Russel is well know for the Classtools.net website with so many amazing just in time tools to activate and inspire learning for teachers and students.


Ewan Tosh provided the inspiring keynote for thisconference on “The Failure Talk”, which sets out how one might deal with the inevitable tension of seeing something new, not necessarily seeing how to apply it, or being provoked with research that conflicts with “what we’ve always done”. This uplifting talk set the context for learning over the days ahead. The key pedagogical concepts introduced are the idea of students being able to lead their learning more effectively sometimes without a teacher, and the power of no longer awarding grades, just feedback, as well as what we know about effective teacher learning. He interjected humor, compassion stories, real life events, and responsive questioning techniques to engage us and that were reflective in our own ideation of connecting the dots. I was intrigued and responsive to the new ideas set forth to launch us into the next two days of community learning. 


I also attended several sessions, besides presenting at this particular conference, and was on a mission to be a “learning sponge” to gain new and insightful ideas to bring back to my US teacher friends and administrator teams. I was most intrigued with two particular sessions on Socrative Questioning Gamification led by by Kathryn McGilvray, Innovation Technologist from Australia and Hexagonal Thinking let by David Faure, Curriculum leader of Science for the Toulouse, France schools. Both of these sessions were infused with student-centered learning approaches, enhanced team collaboration through questioning techniques, inductive reasoning, strategic planning and empathy by appreciating the differences and learning styles of others. 

GAME DESIGN AND SOCRATIC SMASH 
Led by Kathryn McGilvray, Innovation Technologist Twitter: @Kathmcg1 
This session was designed for secondary teachers with a focus on game design and examined current pedagogy and research in the area of game design with a focus on developing critical thinking skills through game design. The workshop was not focused on a particular technology classes but a focus on how gaming can be used over many subject disciplines to engage in learning and development of communication and critical thinking skills. This was a hands-on session and teachers were encouraged to examine how they can incorporate new research and thinking in relationship to pedagogy and game design into their classes. 

SCAFFOLDING UNDERSTANDING USING SOLO HEXAGONS IN SCIENCE LESSONS
Led by David Faure, Curriculum Leader for Science Twitter: @d_faure
This session showcased how to give your “cut and stick exercises” a makeover. By scaffolding levels of understanding with SOLO hexagons a simple card sorting activity can become a more open ended task which provides a scaffold for formative assessment and helps students to understand a topic more deeply, making connections like never before. David did a great job with introducing and following through on this activity of how to create a step by stepprocess of making a proper cup of tea as a small group then wholegroup exercise. It is amazing the questions that were accessed to put our steps of action into order, as we discovered from different parts of the world, we all make simple cup of tea so differently. I wonder if I gave this exercise to WI, MN and IA teachers of how to create and make the proper brat for a football game, how would it take off. We will see, as it will be included and showcased in an upcoming workshop event with Innovative Educator Consulting. 



HEXAGONAL THINKING IN ACTION 

My learning charge from both of these sessions was to recreate teaching and learning scenarios infusing hexagonal thinking activities for our MidWest technology leadership groups, Intel Global Leadership Summit event, and for future workshop trainings. Here are the new teaching examples and creative grouping technique I createdand introduced on hexagonal thinking to our Intel Global LeadershipSummit in Portland, OR this past week. The purpose was to get them up and moving to think in dynamic duo and trio groups, as a collaborative and social deeper thinking activities for teachers to discover and realize your hidden passions for teaching and learning. As an extension to this activity, the talented Deb Norton took a portion of the Hexagonal Thinking idea a step further as a Google Slides student-centered rotation station activity at the Intel Global Leadership Summit. She tapped into Russel Tar’s hexagon creator found onClassTools.net and made this a center activity for teachers to create their own Hexagonal Thinking activity. I so love Deb’s creative activity design to involve all participants and their comfort levels and engage them with new digital creation ideas. 

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