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 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 are not included and must be purchased separately. Full day Workshop $345. Half-day Workshop $230.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Note: Times and dates are subject to change.
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Morning | 8:00 am – 11:00 am

Be an Agent of Narrative Change: A Toolbox for Creating Compelling Communications for Education Transformation
DeQuendre Bertrand, iNACOL
Carri Schneider, XQ Institute
Ashley Jones, iNACOL
Natalie Abel, iNACOL

Successful transformation is driven by a shared narrative for change. K-12 education in the United States has been a story of promises broken and unevenly fulfilled. To renew the promise and ensure it serves the purpose of preparing every student for future success, we must align our words and actions to create a new public discourse about what’s possible with education. A new prevailing narrative will be a critical driver of the support needed from parents and students, educators and school leaders, funders and policymakers. This workshop offers a communications and messaging strategy to build consensus among stakeholders, marshal public support and lead the charge for innovation and student-centered learning.

Assessment for Learning: From Principles, to Practices, to Action
Sarah Lench, Center for Innovation in Education
Tony Siddall, Next Generation Learning Challenges

Join educators, administrators, and system leaders from across the country as we fundamentally rethink the role of assessment for learning and K-12 system improvement. Members of the Assessment for Learning Project community will lead participants through small group discussions rooted in problems of practice; multimedia presentations of student voices describing their experiences with innovative assessments; and processes to inform building-, district-, or network-wide action planning.

Participants will:

  • Understand assessment for learning as a coherent set of principles and practices that can deepen and personalize learning, and help create more equitable learning environments;
  • Identify specific entry points in their own context for taking the next step deeper into assessment for learning; and
  • Learn about opportunities to join the Assessment for Learning Project community to continue peer-to-peer learning with other educators and leaders engaged in this work across the country.

Learning from School-Based Practitioners: Building a Successful Competency-Based Education System in your District/School

Jonathan Vander Els, V and S School Solutions
Brian Stack, Sanborn Regional High School

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 and develop realistic and actionable steps toward developing their own competency-based system in their own schools. Workshop facilitators will guide conversations on the tenets of an effective CBL model, based upon their own experiences leading this change-process in their own schools, as well as help participants generate ideas for implementing competency-based structures, instruction, curriculum and performance assessment into their own schools based upon their unique readiness.

State-Level Support for Personalized Learning: An Exploration of Two States’ Commitment to Scaling Personalized Learning  

Virgel Hammonds, KnowledgeWorks
Ann Ellefson, North Dakota Dept. of Public Instruction
Lauren McCauley, South Carolina Dept. of Education
Robin Kannan, KnowledgeWorks
Lori Phillips, KnowledgeWorks

Throughout this interactive session, participants will learn how South Carolina and North Dakota are supporting and scaling personalized learning and develop strategies to support and scale in their own states, districts and schools. Workshop attendees will hear from leaders within each state’s Department of Education about the collaboration between educators, parents, legislators, and the business community to establish the Profile of the Graduate and examine multi-tiered system of support for schools and districts including their coaching network and Inquiry Labs.

Attendees of the session will also discuss how policymakers are creating a policy environment that is empowering quality implementation of personalized learning. Session participants will discuss how each state is establishing the conditions for successful implementation. Attendees will utilize lessons learned from South Carolina and North Dakota to design strategies that will move their own state’s vision for personalized learning forward.

10:00 am – 1:00 pm
State Policymaker Team Convening –
Invite Only
Maria Worthen, iNACOL
Dale Frost, iNACOL
Natalie Truong, iNACOL

Afternoon | 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Competency Education Leadership Forum for Educators
Chris Sturgis, CompetencyWorks

The Competency Education Leadership Forum is an educator-only opportunity for educational leaders at the school, district and state level that have been immersed in the transition to competency-based systems to meet each other and engage in a deep dive conversation about challenging emerging issue. Participants should have at least one year of implementation experience.

After an introductory activity we will break into groups based on a pre-forum survey to talk about issues that are important to participants. Issues may include meeting students where they are; using quality design principles; implications for aligning special education with competency-based systems; personalized professional learning; proficiency-based diplomas; building systems of assessments; accountability policies for personalized, competency-based environments; new metrics to guide continuous improvement; and identifying the most important structures and policies to ensure equity.

This session has been designed as an educator-only leadership forum as there are so few opportunities for educators to come together to talk about the issues that are most important to them. The discussion protocols will be designed to facilitate unpacking issues, exploring alternative approaches, and development of personal learning plans.

Transforming Learning with Micro-credentials and Badges
Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart
Caroline Vander Ark, Getting Smart

During this interactive micro-credential and badging workshop, we’ll begin by providing an overview of personalized, competency-based learning, including highlighting schools, districts and organizations around the country as resources. We’ll be joined by organization leaders who will share how micro-credentials and badges are transforming both professional and student learning by demonstrating mastery instead of seat time.

In table groups, we’ll design micro-credentials and badges 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 how to avoid common pitfalls. As a group we will identify competency pathways for educators and students and discuss how to credentials can unlock opportunities for learners. Attendees will walk away with a greater understanding of the importance of micro-credentials and badges and the skills to both design and assess credentials.

Building a Successful and High-Quality Online Learning Program

Nicole Fuerst, Kodiak Island School District
Christine Voelker, Quality Matters
Dave Edwards, Zia Learning
Chris Harrington, Institute for Teaching and Leading

Bridging the gap between the idea of creating an online learning program and actually launching one is an exciting and challenging journey. One rural district will show you how they were able to survive and thrive with the help of Quality Matters. This session will provide you with the tools you need to start thinking through the process building an online learning program. Reflect on your needs, discuss your challenges in a collaborative setting, and begin building your survival kit.

Session learning outcomes:

  1. Participants will reflect on the reasons they are looking to start up an online learning program.
  2. Participants will discuss the challenges to developing an online learning program.


Full Day | 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

A Framework for Personalized Learning 
Bill Zima, RSU 2

Immerse yourself in an innovative model of personalized learning to experience what it feels like to be an empowered learner. The W2AL model (two workshops and one applied learning) is a model that addresses each of the iNACOL elements of personalized learning. Not only will participants experience aspects of the W2AL model, they will leave with action plans and strategies to drive the transformation of learning in their classrooms, schools, or districts.

Blended Learning: Teaching in a Student-Centered Environment
Heather Staker, Ready to Blend

How do you make the shift from teacher-led instruction to student-centered learning? In student-centered environments, teachers have more time to meet individual needs. Students are more engaged and motivated because they are driving their own learning, with the help of great coaching and mentoring. Their academic and non-cognitive skills improve, and they’re better equipped to persist through college. How do teachers re-envision their role to get those results?

In this full-day session, teachers will explore practical strategies for shifting to a student-centered paradigm. Through simulations and hands-on practice in a blended environment, you’ll learn how to nurture agency and release control, manage flexible student groupings, and become a better one-on-one coach.

During the session, Heather Staker will model successful methods for freeing up place, time and pace to center the learning experience on the needs of each learner. You’ll leave with a plan for improving the learning design in your own classrooms and with new perspective for what it feels like to be a learner in a student-centered system.

K-12 Online and Blended Learning Research Community Meeting
Joe Friedoff, Michigan Virtual
Saro Mohammed, The Learning Accelerator

This day-long research community meeting will foster a space for researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders to come together and 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 building the evidence base for K-12 online, blended, virtual and competency-based learning initiatives. We will host panel discussions featuring funders, administrators, educators, policymakers and developers around their different research needs and wants. Panels will be followed by facilitated, mixed-role, small group discussions about a path forward for research. The Learning Accelerator’s Blended Learning Networks, Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships, and Learning Agenda will also be described and shared with all in attendance as a basis for facilitating sustained connections and next steps in moving this work forward.