Off the Beaten Path: An Insiders Guide to Summit 2013

April 30, 2013

This year will be my second year attending the NewSchools Summit.  Last year, I found myself awestruck by the sheer number of people who came to share ideas, discuss what’s next in education reform, and to make new connections that will advance their work.  By the end of the day, I thought my head was going to explode from trying to process it all.  I didn’t even realize that I had really only witnessed or taken part in approximately 30% of what Summit has to offer.  So this year, I am making a commitment to take my Summit experience to the next level, by taking part in some of the lesser known gems of Summit.  For those of you out there in FAA-delay plagued airports across the country that might be taking a few moments to make your schedule on the Summit Website for Summit 2013 here are a couple of events you might want to check out. For those of you not able to join us in person, you can still join us virtually via Livestream for Main stage sessions and the EdSurge Live interviews during the Hours of Power:

And please join in on the conversation through Twitter: #NSVFSummit @NSVF

1.      Summit Yoga (6:00 AM- 7:00 AM):  In education reform we spend a lot of time talking about how to improve public education, what if we tried meditating on it for a change?  Who knows, just as you reach your arms out in the perfect warrior pose you might just find the solution to that problem that has been irking you for the past couple days or months.  There is also a 5k going on at this time, but let’s be honest seeing one of your ed-reform idols doing downward dog is going to be a much better story.

2.      Hour of Power Networking (9:40 – 10:40 AM; 2:45-3:45 PM):  These two hours in the middle of Summit are designed for getting your network on.  For those of you who are natural networkers, this is your time to shine.  For the more apprehensive folks, we have networking tables with pre-selected hot topics, so you don’t have to worry about awkwardly breaking into a conversation.  Also, we have charging stations for your devices in the networking spaces.  There is nothing like the bonds built while watching that little iPhone battery icon go from red to green (see Sandy cell phone charging).

3.      Playworks Recess (9:40 – 10:40 AM; 2:45-3:45 PM):  Have you missed recess?  That time of complete freedom from responsibility, where you ran around the open field playing tag, monkey in the middle, red rover, or, in my case, a strange game entitled dirt pile civilization (you don’t want to know the details, there was a caste system involved).  Playworks will allow you to relive your recess glory days at Summit.  So if you see a ball being hurled at your head, catch it, and join in the fun.

4.      Office Hours with Eric Hanushek (9:40 – 10:40 AM; 2:45-3:45 PM):  If you have studied economics, statistics, or policy in the past 35 years you have no doubt spent a chunk of time cozied up in a library or Starbucks with a Hanushek paper.  Hanushek is the leader of the use of economic analysis in education and the person whose work has pushed forth such controversial reforms as value-added teacher performance assessments and federal accountability for schools.  Go straight to the source, and ask him those burning questions your professor just wasn’t quite able to answer.

5.      TeachLive Demo (9:40 – 10:40 AM; 2:45-3:45 PM):  Are you a former teacher yearning to get back in the classroom?  Or, have you always wanted to try teaching?  The University of Central Florida’s TeachLive team will be on site at Summit to give you a chance to practice your teaching skills using their virtual avatar middle school students.  These avatars might be digitally created, but they have all the fun behaviors of real-life distracted and confused middle school students.

6.      LearnZillion Assessment (9:40 – 10:40 AM; 2:45-3:45 PM):  Are you smarter than a 5th grader?  Now you can find out.  DC-based edtech company LearnZillion will be giving Summit attendees the chance to take their performance assessments (i.e., tests) to find out where they line up against the Common Core State Standards.  If your results don’t come out the way you hoped, don’t worry, LearnZillion can build a playlist of video micro-lessons for you to remediate your skills.  Anyone want to join me in brushing up on ratio and proportion?