From Tuesday-Friday, July 8-11, I had the great pleasure to attend the Constructing Modern Knowledge conference in Manchester, NH. It is organized by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez, the authors of Invent to Learn, one of the most comprehensive manifestos of what constructivist education strives to be. As they should, they have created a conference that lives the message they believe in, and it created a huge number of things for all attendees to process in the time after the conference. (During the conference, there's not much time to reflect, only to do!)
The structure is simple: Greetings, description of the kinds of resources available, brainstorming projects, division by interest in projects, work on projects. There is also a speaker each day after lunch. That's it. The underlying plan here is that, by actually working with a group (or on your own) on building something, the teachers there will experience the benefits of MAKING something, and then be better able to guide their students in MAKING things when they return to their schools.
Perhaps most refreshing is that the organizers never stopped us to tell us how we should take those lessons, or hand out papers with lists of ways to apply the wisdom of making. We were, as experienced educators, given the freedom to work those things out on our own. To MAKE sense of the week, out of the various portions of the challenges and successes we faced. Because of this approach, they were able to provide enough structure for attendees to try new things, fail, iterate, try again, and reach some success with projects that they chose because of their own interests. We lived constructivist education, and let me tell you: it is FUN!
All that said, I am now left with reams of material bouncing around in my head, and this blog is going to be the venue for me to work it all out. Please comment and enter the conversation if you are so moved!
Follow this link for a Google+ album of photos of the conference.