Pre-Conference Workshop Schedule

Pre-conference workshops offer highly interactive, focused sessions for administrators, educators and policymakers for personalized, competency-based learning. These highly individualized sessions can be added when registering for the Symposium for an additional fee. 

Pre-Conference Workshops | Monday, October 28, 2019

Morning Pre-Conferences: 8:00 – 11:00 am PT
Helping Schools Realize Their Unique Vision of a Personalized, Competency-Based System Using the Research of Dr. Marzano

Bill Zima, Director of Implementation, Marzano Academies
Bob Marzano (Joining virtually), Founder, Marzano Academies

Marzano Academies is a place where all students will learn the content and skills they need for success in college, career, and beyond within a competency-based education program. Based on 45 years of educational research created by Dr. Robert Marzano, the Academies look to implement theories of assessment, instruction, and curriculum, in a culture that promotes learner agency and transforms the school into a high-reliability organization. The Marzano Academies’ model typically progresses through three distinct phases, which correlate with school academic years. Sixteen school level indicators and 10 focus areas of instruction comprise the three phases of Academy development. Come to this pre-conference session and immerse yourself in the model to learn the WHY and HOW schools can support the development of learner agency while supporting them to become competent in the concepts and skills associated with the content. 


Pathways to Personalization: A Framework Approach to Designing and Scaling Blended and Personalized Learning

Shawn Rubin, Chief Education Officer, Highlander Institute
Malika Ali, Director of Pedagogy, Highlander Institute

Everyone wants to rethink schools right now. The movement toward increased personalization and student-centered learning is gaining momentum nationally, but many leaders don’t know where to begin, how to scale practices beyond early pilots, or how to start with more than a handful of willing teachers. In order to build momentum for whole-school change, stakeholders (including teachers, students, parents, coaches, and administrators) must be brought together as change agents to collaboratively define goals and create actionable steps. The Highlander Institute has created a linear, stepwise framework for guiding school redesign, which they recently published as a book through Harvard Education Press, called Pathways to Personalization: A Framework for School Change.

Join us for a half-day workshop as we dive deeper into the five phases of the Pathway to Personalization framework. This hands-on workshop will place attendees into simulated design teams working to drive school change. Leaders will have the chance to feel what it’s like to design and implement a grassroots change initiative in order to decide firsthand whether this approach would make sense in their own local context.


Sharing Learning from the Trenches: Developing a Successful Competency-Based Learning System in Your School or District with Competency-Based Learning Practitioners

Jonathan G. Vander Els; Project Director, Author, and Associate; V & S School Solutions
Brian M. Stack; Principal, Author; Sanborn Regional School District

Across the country, schools are breaking from tradition to adopt student-centered, personalized, and competency-based structures to support the learning for all students. In this pre-conference session, two New Hampshire school leaders, covering the K-12 spectrum, will guide participants through a self-assessment to determine their current reality utilizing a unique school design rubric tool. Participants will leave this session with concrete information about competency-based learning (CBL) and develop realistic and actionable steps toward developing a competency-based system in their own schools and districts. Workshop facilitators will guide conversations on the design principles of an effective CBL model, based upon their firsthand experiences leading this change-process in their own schools. Jonathan and Brian will also help participants generate ideas for implementing various CBL structures based upon their readiness and entry points unique to each school community.


Take Ownership of Your Digital Ecosystem – Project Unicorn Bootcamp (Capacity: 75)

Erin Mote, Executive Director, InnovateEDU
Julia Michaelis, Project Manager, InnovateEDU

Join Project Unicorn for a Trail Blazers edition of the Project Unicorn Bootcamp. Take ownership of your digital ecosystem by digging deep into interoperability, privacy, product piloting, purchasing, and community engagement with education technology. Attendees will join experts in the field including educators and parents for interactive presentations, followed by workshop activities and roundtables covering the following:

  • Digging into the Basics: Why Should I Prioritize Interoperability?
  • Data Protectors: Privacy & Security
  • Data Unlockers: How Can We Inform Instruction?
    • Formative assessments
    • Planning class instruction
    • Planning homework
    • Student groupings
  • Data Pilots: What Do You Look For When Buying EdTech?
  • District Innovators: Stories from the Field
  • Community Engagers: Talk to Your Community About EdTech & Interoperability

Sessions will be concurrent. For each table you visit for a workshop session, you’ll complete an activity, gather a toolkit, and of course earn some Project Unicorn swag.

Afternoon Pre-Conferences: 12:00 – 3:00 pm PT
Improving Professional Development with Mastery Learning, Micro-Credentials, and Game-Based Learning

Heather Staker, President, Ready to Blend
Allison Powell, Senior Learning Strategist, BloomBoard

Micro-credentials have been trending in recent years as a competency-based form of professional learning. If you’re curious to know what all the hype is about, this session is for you.

Join us for an interactive session where you’ll learn how micro-credentials (MCs) work, and just like a true MC, you’ll be learning by doing. During the session, we’ll provide an introduction on MCs with a specific focus on student-centered learning MCs. To help participants gain a deeper understanding, everyone will go through the exercise of completing an MC on “Introducing Your Best Self.” The goal is to take attendees through the real-life experience of completing an MC through a topic that is applicable to everyone. Participants will be guided through the process while we also incorporate principles of game-based learning by immersing everyone in a real-life game to seek buried treasure while mastering the basic principles of student-centered learning. This hands-on workshop is one you won’t want to miss.


Opportunities to Shape the Future of Learning (Capacity: 45)

Jason Swanson, KnowledgeWorks

What actions should be taken to ensure that every child and community thrives in the face of rapid change? Over the next decade, education – like the rest of society – will be faced with navigating profound change. Education has the opportunity to help lead the way in developing new organizing principles for a new era and in applying strategic insights about the future to shape what learning looks like and how it is supported in school, district and other organizational contexts.

Workshop participants will explore changes on the horizon and develop strategies to shape the future of learning, as informed by KnowledgeWorks’ forthcoming (July 2019) strategy guide identifying opportunities for education stakeholders in K-12, postsecondary and community-based learning settings to take informed action in response to the changes on the horizon raised by our latest ten-year forecast, Navigating the Future of Learning.


Rigorous and Student-Centered Teaching: A Forum on Innovation (Capacity: 30)

Erin Figula, LEAP Innovations
Jilliam Joe, LEAP Innovations
Jen Stack, LEAP Innovations

As personalized learning implementations continue across the United States, there is a growing body of learnings and best practices that foster rigorous classroom practices. This workshop will bring together leading practitioners to share learnings, tools, resources, and approaches to learner-centered practices.


Showing the Way to Equity and Excellence: What the Education System Can Learn From Alternative Schools (Capacity: 30)

Tony Monfiletto, Future Focused Education
Javier Guzman, Big Picture Learning

Prepare to be inspired, involved and enlightened. This workshop begins by framing how redesigning Alternative Schools in the Future FocusED Education network in New Mexico and the Upstream Collaborative network in California and Washington are transforming the lives of students, schools, and communities.

Students from both networks will exhibit their learning, share their experiences and answer your questions. Following that, mentors will share their own reasons for supporting the redesign of education and how this can be done in any school. Furthermore, we will suggest how school districts are ‘ready’ and indicate the potential impact of this movement on mainstream schooling.

Finally, drawing from the views of superintendents, principals, teachers, researchers, parents, students, and school coaches across the United States and internationally, we will engage participants in redesigning schools around key principles and questions that lead to greater equity and demonstrable excellence.


The Power You Carry: How to Become a Brain Builder to Help All Children Thrive

Michael Lamb, Executive Director, Turnaround for Children
Joscelyn Reed, Leadership Development Coach, Turnaround for Children

The science of learning and development tells an optimistic story about what is possible for all children, no matter their start in life. In a highly-interactive workshop, educators, administrators, and policymakers will build a foundation of knowledge in the science of learning, including the impact of trauma on child development. Participants will be equipped with strategies and practices to build effective classrooms, schools, and systems that support healthy student development and academic achievement for all children.

The workshop will progress through an integrated arc of learning topics, including an introduction to brain science, the centrality of relationships, the stress response system, the science of trauma and adverse childhood experiences, why context matters, and Turnaround for Children’s Building Blocks for Learning framework for comprehensive student development. Participants will leave with new tools and practices to apply right away.

All Day Pre-Conferences:
8:00 am – 3:00 pm PT
K-12 Online and Blended Learning Research Community Meeting (Capacity: 100)

Saro Mohammed, Partner, The Learning Accelerator
Joe Freidhoff, Vice President, Michigan Virtual
Chris Harrington, Director, Michigan Virtual

This day-long research community meeting fosters a space for researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders to come together to provide opportunities for networking, find funding opportunities and drum up collaborative prospects. It provides a chance for everyone to gain and give practical, applicable insights into measuring to inform and improve.

The morning includes panels and small group discussions on topics of interest to attendees, including personalized, blended, online, and competency-based learning. After lunch, attendees will hear about current research findings, including those from The Learning Accelerator’s (TLA) 2019 Measurement Fellows. This meeting balances information sharing with engaging discussions.


8:00 am – 1:00 pm PT
National Policy Forum at the 2019 iNACOL Symposium – Invitation Only

Maria Worthen, Vice President for Federal and State Policy, iNACOL
Nat Truong, Policy Director, iNACOL
Alexis Chambers, Policy Associate, iNACOL

The National Policy Forum at the 2019 iNACOL Symposium will provide invited state policymakers with a national perspective on policies that support transformation of K-12 education to student-centered learning. Participants will learn from policymakers in other states about how they are advancing policies to transform K-12 education, and have the opportunity to share their own experiences and lessons learned. Whether they are just getting started, growing and scaling, or driving towards statewide transformation and sustainability, participants will gain a deeper understanding of specific action steps they can take to support student-centered learning.