ISTE 2011 Keynotes and Lessons Learned

As I do with all new knowledge, I look for the things that connect learning for me.  So far I have attended all of the keynotes at ISTE2011, some sessions, viewed all the exhibits and had multiple meaningful conversations with important people.  I found the two keynote speakers had some common themes I will share below.

The opening keynote was given by Dr. John Medina.  He talked about the brain and how the brain learns in two ways: creating a database (skills/memorization) and improvisation.  At the end of his talk, he was asked, “How do standardized tests or teaching to the test figure into brain learning?”  He responded:  “The brain is a survival instinct machine, teaching to the test is a survival strategy.”  I took this to mean that teachers are forced to teach to the test and therefore their brains are forced to comply which, in turn, reduces the amount of improvisation in teaching.  Dr. Medina reiterated that for the brain to learn, there needs to be memorization and improvisation and that live teachers bring “theory of mind” to the classroom.  They can tell when students are struggling because of their relationships with the students.

The second keynote speakers was Dr. Stephen Covey who video conferenced in to speak. He reiterated his 7 Habits of Highly Successful people but then focused on what causes people to shift their mindset.  He stated that relationships are more important than things and the technology is a means not an end which he said is “meant to bless, not impress.”  He also commented on student testing and said that “Reducing children to a test score is the worst form of identity theft we could commit in schools.”

So, this is what these experts shared about student testing with the assembled 12,000+ attendees and countless others listening from a distance.  I wonder if federal and state legislators and Secretary Duncan are also listening? 

I wonder what the final keynote talk from Chris Lehmann will share with?

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