Despite what this picture implies, Dan Callahan does not suck. In fact, if the picture extended just a bit to his left, the chalk would tell you so. He did, however, give people an opportunity to discuss what sucked or rocked using a very interesting discussion technique (which he attributes in his blog post to UX Crank) that can easily be transferred into the classroom.
He threw out topics like cell phones in the classroom, full inclusion, and your school’s professional development, and then asked participants to pick a designated part of the room depending upon whether the idea sucked, rocked, or made them feel indifferent (I’ll call it SRI for short). What a great way to have a discussion and get everyone involved. The only thing I regret was not being able to tweet during the session…I didn’t want to carry my computer around.
Students and teachers are often reluctant to say where they stand (I know I can be timid in that way…I’m trying to get over it, but that’s for another blog post). SRI forces participants to make their feelings known, to think about these issues, and to listen to divergent ideas. Dan did a great job facilitating and was a terrific model for the classroom teacher as guide instead of a sage. He encouraged perspectives to be shared, asked probing questions, and made provocative statements all with a warm, elven smile.
As we were moving about the room, I kept thinking of ways that I could use SRI in the library…search strategies, databases, etc . Unfortunately, SRI would be very difficult to use in a typical conference because of the sheer number of participants. I’m beginning to see the “unconference” as a very different but necessary type of professional development, one that forces participation, something many students and often teachers try to avoid.
Dan wrote about his own experience with his session on his blog, geek.teacher; check it out if you want to know which topic made teachers request that the video feed be cut off, and please consider sharing your session 3 experiences.