Pre-Conference Workshop Schedule

Pre-conference workshops offer highly interactive, focused sessions for administrators, educators and policymakers for competency-based, blended and online learning. These highly individualized sessions are not included in the conference package and must be registered for separately.

Space is limited to ensure small group interactions, so be sure to register for the pre-conference workshops early.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Monday, October 23, 2017

Morning Workshops | 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. ET
Building a Personalized Learning System: Transparency, Culture and Courage     (Capacity: 50)

Rebecca Midles, Mesa County School District 51
Ken Haptonstall, Mesa County School District 51
Leigh Grasso, Mesa County School District 51

Join this interactive workshop to learn how to get started in building a personalized, competency-based education system. This session is designed for leaders of schools and districts in the planning or early implementation phases of personalized, competency-based education. Gain insights into how to build a transparent learning system designed for student success, develop and nurture a culture aimed at continuous improvement, and have the courage to lead systemic transformation of teaching and learning in your school. Access tools such as a teaching and learning framework, personalized adult learning hubs, social and emotional learning framework, and learn how to modify and incorporate these resources as you begin transition to competency education in your own program.

Building a Successful and High-Quality Online Learning Program     (Capacity: 90)

Edi Cox, Horry County Schools
Stacie M. Ahrens-Mininberg, Loudoun County Public Schools
Mary Fluharty, Online and Blended Learning Consultant

Bridging the gap between the idea of creating an online learning program and actually launching one is an exciting and challenging journey. Facilitated by experienced district and school leaders who have successfully launched online programs, this workshop will provide participants with ideas on how to address some of the critical questions that you will encounter as you seek to build a high-quality online learning program.

Effectively Communicating about Personalized Learning     (Capacity: 90)

Natalie Woods, Education Elements
Kira Keane, The Learning Accelerator
Ashley Ellis, Loudoun County Public Schools

Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful innovation in education. School districts that develop thoughtful communications plans build a culture of engagement, transparency and trust that is critical for innovation both to take hold in the classroom and to be scalable across many schools. This hands-on workshop will review the four phases of developing an effective communications plan, explore real-world examples and provide attendees with an opportunity to learn from peers and test out key messages and ideas.

New Research and Promising Practices Regarding Online Student Mobility     (Capacity: 50)

Dr. Patricia Hoge, Connections Education/Pearson Online and Blended Learning
Sean McManus, A3 Education Group
Dr. Alyssa Walters, Connections Education/Pearson Online and Blended Learning

While online learning can provide highly mobile students with the flexibility and continuity of learning that they need, highly mobile students often face performance challenges that online programs must be prepared for. Bring your experience and ideas to the table for a candid conversation about highly mobile K-12 students, new learning research, and emerging strategies for helping these students achieve their best.

Using Student Data to Drive Unit Design and Scheduling in a Personalized, Competency-Based System     (Capacity: 110)

Doug Finn III, Marzano Research
Bill Zima, Kennebec Intra-District Schools, RSU 2 (ME)

A primary design element of personalized, competency-based education is to get students more engaged in the learning process by challenging them at their appropriate academic level and pace. To effectively manage this outcome, we need to rethink how we use student data. This session will focus on how to better utilize student data in designing instructional units and creating competency-based systems. Participants will have opportunities to engage in discussions dealing with the many facets of unit design and scheduling and explore examples of units and school schedules based on student data.

Using a Profile of a Graduate to Become a 21st Century District     (Capacity: 90)

Ken Kay, EdLeader21
Valerie Greenhill, EdLeader21

The most transformative districts in the country embrace a common vision for 21st century education. Many districts have developed this vision by agreeing to a Profile of a Graduate (PoG). This tool becomes the “North Star” for the transformative efforts in their districts. Leadership teams work collectively to build their vision into every aspect of their strategic plan.

Participants will come together to develop: 1) a Profile of a Graduate for their district, 2) a community engagement strategy, and 3) a vision roadmap for implementation, including key shifts in curriculum and instruction, professional development and assessment. Participants will leave with tactical tools such as a free creativity rubric and a free implementation guide that will help bring to life their 21st century vision for students.

Please join us for what will be an engaging and interactive 3-hour session on how to embrace and implement a vision that will prepare your students for their 21st century lives.


Afternoon Workshops | 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET
Blended Learning Live! Student-Centered Learning Simulation     (Capacity: 90) 

Joe Cicero, Eduscape

Blended Learning Live! is a three-hour interactive workshop for education leaders and teachers to immerse themselves in a blended environment and learn by doing. This workshop is based on the work of Heather Staker, co-author of Blended Learning: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. The format invites attendees to take part in a simulated student experience in a blended classroom. Along the way, they take the first steps toward drafting a strategic plan for leveraging technology to improve student achievement and engagement. Participants will leave with a template and initial draft of the first sections of their blended-learning plan. The workshop is designed for superintendents, district and school staff, and teacher teams.

Building Understanding of Competency Education and Changing Grading Practices     (Capacity: 30)

Thomas Gaffey, Building 21
Sandra Moumoutjis, Building 21

Are competencies and standards the same? How do you assess competencies? Why do we create rubrics and convert them to points? Should measurement of learning be punitive? In this session, we will dive deep into these questions by providing an alternative approach to traditional grading. Through a series of activities, participants will engage with the Learning What Matters competency model and leave the session with a fresh perspective on how three Pennsylvania urban district schools assess students.

  • Participants will engage in a series of activities to define and illustrate competency-based learning.
  • Participants will use rating tools called continua to rate student work.
  • Participants will be exposed to an alternative grading and assessment mindset that will push their school design efforts forward.

After a series of knowledge-building activities, participants will be exposed to a powerful new approach of using the learning progression as a rating and grading tool. These activities include: basketball dribbling activity, small group continua building, and continua norming. Each of these activities requires participants to engage with each other to understand, create and build consensus. This approach mirrors our on-boarding for new teachers.

Competency Education Leadership Forum (Invitation-Only)     (Capacity: 75) 

Chris Sturgis, CompetencyWorks

Have you been actively creating or converting a school, district or state policy to competency education for at least one year? Join your colleagues at the Competency Education Leadership Forum to dive deep into a problem of practice that is challenging you.

The Leadership Forum will be structured around several problems of practice. We’ll ask you beforehand for suggestions of problems of practice or policy that you would like to focus on so that we can use our time together efficiently. The goal of the afternoon will be to expand and strengthen our networks, exchange ideas and seek to further develop our understanding and strategies to address the challenging issues facing us.

Note: If you are deeply involved in competency-based education work and would like to attend this Forum, please contact Chris Sturgis ( for more information.

Design at the Point of Impact: Scaling Blended and Personalized Learning in Schools and Districts     (Capacity: 60) 

Shawn Rubin, Highlander Institute

This is an ideal session for building- and/or district-level teams interested in creating visions and roadmaps for launching and scaling blended and personalized learning initiatives. Attendees will work through Highlander Institute’s change management process for district- and building-level redesign. Attendees can work individually or as a team to create a vision for personalized learning that is localized to their stakeholders and context. Teams will articulate classroom shifts through the creation of look-for rubrics. Attendees will create implementation plans they can use immediately upon returning to their district. These plans will address the selection of early adopter teachers, best practices for piloting personalized learning through embedded coaching and ongoing walkthrough tools, as well as targeted suggestions regarding personalized learning platforms that support each team’s vision and rubric. 

Leadership for Learning: Bringing Key Dimensions of Leadership to Life to Enable a Learning Community     (Capacity: 30)

Linda Pittenger, Center for Innovation in Education
Gene Wilhoit, Center for Innovation in Education
Jim Rickabaugh, The Institute for Personalized Learning

What does effective leadership mean in a system that has taken up complex change to meet the community’s goals for its children?” Participants will grapple with this question and others as they dig into big ideas about key dimensions of leadership that support high expectations for all learners. A new paper, Leadership for Learning: What Is Leadership’s Role in Supporting Success for Every Student?, will anchor the workshop to spark inquiry and actionable understanding about what leadership means in new learning environments. The presenters propose that leadership is “the art of enabling a learning community to transform from its current to future state by dramatically and continuously improving its capacity to deliver on the goal of readiness for every child through influence on the organization itself, its stakeholders, and the systems within which it operates.”

Participants will investigate the big ideas through related lines of inquiry and perspective. The goal is for all to experience a rich exchange of ideas, through individual and group reflections, and leave with new thinking about leadership in their own local contexts. Individual participants are welcome; the session may be especially valuable for small teams from the same school, network, or district.

Micro-Credentials: Transforming Professional Learning     (Capacity: 90)

Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart

During this micro-credential workshop, we’ll begin by providing an overview of personalized competency-based learning including highlighting schools and districts around the country as resources. We’ll be joined by organization leaders who will share how micro-credentials are transforming professional learning. In table groups, we’ll design micro-credentials around specific skills and present ideas to the group. Based on presentations and discussions, we’ll discuss how to assess quality, what incentives there are for participation and avoiding common pitfalls. We’ll wrap the day by focusing on competency-based learning for students including how and where badges are and will be used. Attendees will walk away with a greater understanding of the importance of micro-credentials and the skills to both design and assess micro-credentials.

Personalized Learning: Helping Your Key Stakeholders (Including Parents!) Along the Journey     (Capacity: 50)

Mickey Revenaugh, New School Models
Dr. Kristen DiCerbo, Education Research
Dr. Els DeGeest, Pedagogical Models Research
Dr. Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster, College Park Academy
Darren Calvert, Irene L. Chavez Excel Academy

During this workshop, pedagogy experts and leading educators that inspire them will be on hand to work with you on developing strategies for personalized learning in two areas:

  1. Building expertise among colleagues to support teaching for personalized learning in traditional, blended, and online classrooms for a panoply of different learners; and
  2. Building a plan for engaging key stakeholders (that is, parents and the community) on what personalized learning really is, and why it is both possible and necessary as we prepare students for the future of work — and to help stakeholders make the cognitive leap from their own education experiences.
Full-Day Workshop | 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET
K-12 Blended and Online Learning Research Community Meeting (Free to Attend)     (Capacity: 110)

Saro Mohammed, The Learning Accelerator
Joseph R. Freidhoff, Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute
Justin Bruno, Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute
Becky Stimson, Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute

This day-long research community meeting will foster a space for researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders to come together and discuss newly published research, provide opportunities for networking, find funding opportunities, and drum up collaborative prospects. We’ll provide a chance for everyone to gain and give practical, applicable insights into measuring K-12 blended learning initiatives. In addition, we will hear from practitioners engaged in developing measurement systems for their own personalized learning initiatives in an interactive, no-holds-barred, “Ask Us Anything” format, with in-person and virtual participants and panelists.