Dina took requests and reviewed a session called Decriminalizing Homework, during which Dr. Cathy Vatterott launched cherry bombs into the crowd (quoted from Dina):
- Eliminate grading homework.
- Homework that cannot be done without help is not good homework.
- A building which has a range of homework weights from 10 percent to 89 percent of a subject grade is "just stupid," Vatterott stated flatly.
Meanwhile, Patrick, whose unease in his position as technical overlord at his school has inspired some precious reflection recently2, attended Brain-Friendly Presentation Skills. I'm prepping my first speaking engagement since August, on entirely new material, and Patrick's notes were useful:
One of the most powerful things she did was move us. Not the kind where we were emotionally moved, but rather we physically moved around the room. In the 90+ minutes we were there, we moved over 15 times. We conversed, we shared information and discussed the topics in the handout on our own terms, but in ways that she dictated.
The presenter swerves across a fine line and then back again, though, when she implores her audience to "simply walk around the room and touch something blue," strategies for "engagement" only one degree removed from dosing out amphetamines to dozing attendees.
Pay close attention to the suggestions involving collaborative reflection. Ignore anything that looks like the presenter's buying her audience's engagement on the cheap. That's what engaging content is for.