Marco Torres Workshop

A couple of weeks ago in Melbourne. I was intending to liveblog, but I could not get access that day, so I typed some noted in Word instead. Here are the notes – they are a bit cryptic, as they were taken on the run, but there are some interesting ideas there….

Marco Torres workshop

Opened talking about the hopes for Barrak Obama improving education, and other issues. Marco is involved in workshops, discussions etc about future for education.

“What does learning look like outside of school?” Working on some TV shows in relation to this – directing Mythbusters, Gordon Ramsay etc

Special presidential award for innovation in education.

Leaves project. ‘Quit, complain or innovate’.
So he asked all his network to send him photos of leaves. 4 hours to gather them. When collected, from all over the world, they were especially for the kids. And had more meaning, story behind them etc.

Funding from government for schools to work on solutions for healthcare, sustainable living and education.

Kids working on a program to make iphone apps on how to improve your school.


We need a new story
What does your story need?
Do we perfect the past?
What is an educated person?
What role does creativity play?
How do you support innovation?
What are risks?
How real, connected, meaningful and applicable is the experience?
How does the new digital environment help?

Heads of uni’s saying they need innovate students, “c plus students with big portfolios”. Risk takers. A lot of innovation has happened in schools… google, yahoo, facerbook, cisco etc.

21st century high school design principals.

Are students recipients or producers of information?

21st century skills outcomes
Relevant and applied curriculum
Informative assessments
Social amd emotional connections
Culture of creativity and innovation
24/7 access to tools and resources

Evaluating experiences – ie yelp application on iphone.

Lacking in education – emotion. Can use technology to connect with people. Are schools promoting nurturing environment?

What is your school doing to foster an environment of creativity?

Congress plus app – “I am a better citizen now I have access to something like this”

Why ask kids to memorise things they can have on their iphones? Periodic table, names of senators etc. Ask different questions, More meaningful questions.

Asked students 1 word to describe school “Boring!” What longevity would a business or politician have with this answer? Teachers say kids don’t want to learn – but they love learning – when it is interesting and relevant to them? Ask principals – what are they doing to overcome this serious issue.

Digital storytelling. Power of image – why do teachers discount power of image, when there most powerful memories are things they saw, heard or experienced, not read? He has student create content – must include quality of life in community also. Mississipi river project – 2mths, largest longitudinal study of water quality by high schools kids who had never visited the site. Got schools to test local water, populated google earth with info and photos, wrote to local representative sof the areas with worst pollution etc. real, rich and relevant.

Are students value adding? When they finish work could you look it all up on google?

Albert Einstein “don’t ask questions you can look up”

“never debate someone with an iphone”

“schooling is getting in the way of learning”

Schools are in a race to come second. Don’t want to take enough risks to be leaders.

Alton Brown cooking show – science , maths, history, context, ICT.
Plan show – intro provides context, history etc. if complex idea, they move out of kitchen. Make it fun, scary – engage emotions. Provides additional resources.

Mysthbusters – watching 2 guys learn, not just 2 guys teach. Do they know the answers? Do we care if they fail? They are not experts – they ask questions.

Are we teaching kids to really plan – to follow process from point A to B. be aware of their metacognitive process.

Mind mapping software really important. Introduced to the process in movie production, not at school. Character development, scene development etc.

Got an ex student to log in and take over his computer. Did a brainstorm about what is in a hamburger, divided into categories, meat, bread etc. Initial mindmap is what our brain might look like while thinking, convert it onto a more formal plan. Then talk about chapter, paragraphs, verses, buttons etc. Explains paragraphs beautifully.

Using other output methods than writing – can display knowledge, concept, same fundamental q’s can still be answered. Student could make docu, video, song etc about hamburger.

All about telling a story. The knowledge is discovered along the way. Ask the right questions. Perfect introduction to a 5 paragraph essay.

Product and process. Product is what we are doing, process how we are going to do it.

Kodak zi6 $90 in USA
Audio may not be good enough, but use off camera recorder. Marco likes professional quality recorders as potential for using the video later is high and better to have high production values. Helpful hints – clap spike. Recorder – Tascam DR07 $165 us

Question – How did you start? Did you have to create a culture to allow learning in this style? I find whenever we try and start more student led, higher order thinking skills taks, the kids are floundering – they want to know the answers, take notes etc and not think for themselves…. How to take those first steps?

Demand for skills – lowest is routine manual skills and routine cognitive. Much higher – expert thinking, highest, complex communications. Skills we spend most time trying to perfect are the ones business are least interested in.

Great essay idea – write about what you are passionate about, without mentioning what that is. Then make a video.

How do we move conversations to the purpose of the ‘stuff’, rather than the ‘stuff’ itself? Teachers are already overwhelmed by stuff. They don’t need more stuff, but how to use it, collaborate etc. All of Marco’s examples tug at the heartstrings. Emotion makes it memorable.

Funtwo – music. Canon rock. Example of organic learning, collaboration, online sharing, kids wanting to learn and be challenged.

How do we make sure Learning Leads technology decisions?
How do we empower and encourage?
How do we disempower the naysayers?

We are still struggling to answer the wrong questions. Trying to perfect an old system with new resources.
Adding technology to old ways of thinking wont change anything. We still see teachers as providers of information, students as recipients.

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