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Board Retreat Reflection

09/18/2010

Hotel Healsburg
Lobby of the Hotel Healdsburg, site of the 2010 Branson School Board Retreat

This past Thursday and Friday I was fortunate enough to attend our school’s Board of Trustees retreat addressing the use of technology at Branson. The meetings went well, although there were no definite resolutions there was some quality dialogue about the use of technology at a school thats already ahead in the game of education.

Recently out college counseling board released some amazing statistics. Branson graduates are accepted at a significantly higher rate into the top 100 colleges and universities than the national population of graduates. Branson parents are students are definitely getting their money’s worth.

Brian Mull of the November Learning spoke on Thursday after lunch. He showed us some valuable tools for teachers and students. Web applications like Diigo, Google custom search creator and the Khan Academy. He also spoke to us about jing and doign screencasts. Which was funny because that morning i sent out a screencast for our faculty to help trouble shoot problems we’ve been having that i know would be issues in my 2 day absence. hehe apparently everyone was looking at me when that came up, i was taking notes.

I would like M. Mull to come speak to our faculty and introduce some of those tool, projects and potential uses so we can start a dialogue. I really appreciate his Wolfram Alpha demonstration.

Milton Chen's Education Nation
On Friday Milton Chen, the authof of Education Nation spoke to us before lunch. Mr. Chen is from the Edutopia Foundation and shared with us some examples of educators leading the way using technology and redefining a modern and relevant education. He has an incredible vision of education and i hope that his ideas become mainstream. Mr. Chen dealt with some very large ideas and had some incredible examples but it was hard for us to see how we can use these exemplars at our school. Education Nation deals primarily with underachieving public schools as compared to our over achieving private school.

Last up was Matt Levinson author of From Fear to Facebook, a book detailing his experience as the point man dealing with a 1:1 roll-out at Nueva Middle school here in Northern California. The book is a beautiful cautionary tale of how to deal with All of the issues of giving middle school students laptops and how to prepare the faculty, students and their parents. Great book and he is a good presenter; I felt bad i did not have more (any) questions for him. Levinson quelled some trepidations the Board (comprised of Branson parents and alum)

Levinson’s story is about 30% analogous to the situation we find ourselves in. He worked at a middle school implementing laptops and we are a high school implementing iPads

Other thoughts
1) As much as Brian Mull talked about twitter, his twitter was filled with a lot of LSU football references and an article on learning that was on the front page of the New York Times. Sorry Dude.
2) All 3 speakers were interesting, knowledgeable and super smart but the board did not have a plethora of questions answered about our specific technology needs.
3) The Board Chairman constantly asks “Are We Behind”. And at lunch before we even heard one speaker i asked him, “What is Behind?”Over the last 10 years Branson graduates have excelled and surpassed the national acceptance rates of our country’s top 100 colleges and universities. We are not behind in any sense of the work. But, how can we use technology to get ahead?

I walked away feeling like I personally showed my competency and enthusiasm in the discussions i led and participated in. Which is important, considering this is my 3rd week on the job.

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