Thursday, March 26, 2015

Inspired Learning to Get Results Now at #ModelSchools

Rigorous and Relevant Adult Learning Fuels Rigorous and Relevant Schools

Solving ill-structured problems. Collaborating with peers. Integrating concepts across disciplines. Adapting to unpredictable scenarios. These experiences are hallmarks of what Willard R. Daggett calls “Quadrant D” learning – learning experiences that are both rigorous and relevant. Quadrant D tasks push students to their intellectual edges while engaging them in authentic and meaningful work.
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Most teachers and education leaders today agree that our schools need a nudge in the direction of rigor and relevance. However, even as they talk about the need for a shift in teaching and learning, educational conferences often model a very familiar learning experience—what Daggett refers to as “Quadrant A” (or what many teachers call less kindly: “sit n’ git”). It can be easy to leave a conference with a tote bag full of materials and new jargon, but very little else.

This year’s Model Schools Conference is going to be worlds apart from the traditional education conference. The organizers understand that in order to support students in engaging and challenging learning experiences, teachers and leaders need to be engaged and challenged. Rather than just listening to people talk about Quadrant D, participants will have the opportunity to engage in a range of Quadrant D learning experiences from the student perspective. Quadrant D opportunities at the Model Schools Conference include:

  • A focus on “makerspaces,” including a real makerspace provided as part of a conference partnership with Table Top Inventions. Makerspaces—collaborative, creative spaces chock full of tools and materials for informal creation, invention, and learning—are becoming increasingly popular at forward-thinking schools and libraries. Students are using the Model Schools Conference Makerspace as its venue to engage in a shared design challenge, working together to invent solutions to complex tasks. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend a variety of makerspace-focused sessions, and learn from colleagues at schools that have successfully implemented makerspaces on their campuses, including Clark Burnett, a 4th grade teacher from Lang Ranch Elementary School in Thousand Oaks, CA.
  • An opportunity for all participants to share, collaborate, teach, and learn in unpredictable ways through the DIY Design-Your-Own-Session strand of the program. Inspired by the popular EdCamp movement, and facilitated by Jimmy Casas, Principal of Bettendorf High School in Iowa and Jim Warford, of the International Center for Leadership in Education, this strand makes it possible for any participant to take the stage and present on an education-related passion.
  • Proven effective for the past three years, these sessions provide teachers and instructional leaders with two options for immersing themselves into practical strategies ready to be implemented including:
  • Engaging in simulated classrooms that allow conference participants to experience Quadrant D learning. Instead of just hearing about Quadrant D work, teachers and leaders will be able to see, hear, feel, and learn from real Quadrant D activities and lessons.
  • Realizing that decision-making goes way beyond just giving a “yes” or “no” answer; for each decision made, factors must be weighed and looked at from every angle and a game plan for dealing with pushback must be devised. Ideal for both current and aspiring leaders, this high-energy, interactive session will challenge and inspire you with thought-provoking, real-life leadership dilemmas and real-time feedback and discussion among peers.
This type of professional learning—immersive, creative, engaging, and challenging—is focused more on transformation than information. Providing teachers and leaders with Quadrant D experiences for their own learning is one of the most critical ways to shift the learning we ultimately provide to students. I’m excited to see the paradigm of professional conferences changing, and look forward to more rigorous and relevant learning for all members of our school communities. Register now to attend this years Model Schools Conference.

P.S. I will be there as well leading sessions on digital leadership and learning. Hope to see you there!


  1. Your blog is amazing! You put forward thoughtful issues and apply new solutions. I see your conference is focusing on teens. A colleague and I are working with ministry money next year to implement Makerspaces for K-6 and how we allow student driven design, creation, collaboration and thinking to lead the curriculum instead of the opposite. Students will be using new pedagogies to address their learning, discuss and share learning and to consolidate learning.

    I would love to hear more from your Makerspace experiences.

  2. Thanks Patricia! Check out this Pinterest board Also connect with Laura Fleming on Twitter - @NMHS_lms