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ASCD Conference in New Orleans
I was indeed fortunate to attend the 55th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show put on by ASCD in New Orleans, March 25-27, 2000. The Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) makes a difference for children by serving those who shape their learning. It helps educators prepare children for their future roles as citizens in an interdependent, ever changing world. ASCD is a powerful advocate and invaluable resource for excellence and equity in education. It builds partnerships that advance teaching and learning worldwide.
Seven kinds of events were scheduled during the conference, each with a different format. The first of these formats was the General Sessions. These daily sessions were scheduled without any conflicting activities and featured guest speakers: Steve Case, Lee Mun Wah, and Arun Gandhi. Steve Case is the Chairman and CEO of America Online. He shared his vision for how technology will expand the effectiveness and accessibility of education, and how educators can develop strategies to integrate interactive technology into classrooms, libraries, and parent-teacher-administrator communications. He explored some of the challenges and opportunities this medium produces. Lee Mun Wah is a national advocate for equality and diversity. He spoke of the silence that lies between all of us. This silence separates and distances us from each other, from ourselves, and from those who are different from us. This silence then leads to alienation and discrimination. It was especially thrilling for me to listen to him because I had watched two emotionally moving videos by him in my SEED classes over the past two years. I found that he was warm and accommodating as he autographed my conference program and allowed a picture of the two of us to be taken. Arun Gandhi is the grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi. At the age of 12, he lived with his grandfather to learn about life, anger, relationships, and understanding. His lecture brought out the human side of Gandhi and translated his philosophy of nonviolence from one of conflict resolution to the more important aspects of building relationships.
The second kind of session format was the Distinguished Lectures. These sessions featured lectures by the prominent scholars and practitioners: Wilma Mankiller, Ruby Payne, and Nel Noddings. I attended the lecture by Wilma Mankiller. She spoke about some of the major issues affecting Native Americans; including health care, housing, unemployment, maintenance of tribal culture, and the benefits of separate tribal colleges.
The third format was Special Features. These sessions also featured lectures by prominent scholars and practitioners. These speakers reflected the diversity of cultures and viewpoints in education. Special feature speakers included: Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Carl Glickman, Chris Dede, Harry Wong, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, John Bransford, Ellis Marsalis and Charles Suhor, and Lisa Delpit. Harry Wongs presentation was one that I was especially interested in, but I found that many others must have felt the same way because the session filled up early. Those that did get in were treated to his ideas on how exemplary schools are accomplishing student achievement. Renowned jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis and former deputy executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English Charlie Suhor, explored the connections between jazz improvisation and everyday language. Suhor outlined basic jazz and language similarities which Marsalis amplified and demonstrated on the piano while accompanied by jazz artists on the bass and drums. The session concluded with several selections by the Marsalis trio.
The fourth format was the Regular Sessions. These sessions covered a wide range of topics. The sessions were intended to provide an opportunity for participants to learn about innovative and effective programs and practices.
The fifth format was the Experimental Sessions. These one and one-half to two hour sessions included active group participation and use of advanced learning and problem solving strategies.
The sixth format was Roundtables. These sessions focused on topics that were covered through extensive discussion.
The seventh and final format was Symposiums. These were panel discussions that addressed a clearly focused issue or idea. There were a variety of perspectives and contrasting points of view in each session.
This conference was an experience of a lifetime for me. There were over 12,000 people from all over the world that attended. The speakers and sessions were enlightening to say the least. The hospitality shown by the conference volunteers and coordinators made everything run smoothly and professionally. The city of New Orleans was an eductional experience in itself. The food, entertainment, and colorful atmosphere of the city added that extra flavor that only New Oleans can give to a national convention.
-- Anonymous, May 14, 2000