Friday, July 5, 2013

Reflections and Take Aways on the Model Schools Conference

This past week over 100 people from LVUSD went to the Model Schools Conference in Washington D.C.  Here are some of my highlights, reflections and brief notes from the conference.

Far and away one of the highlights of the conference for me was the opening night key note speaker- Dr. Sue Szachowitz.  With her real world personality and no nonsense attitude, Dr. Sue explained how her high school Brockton High went from one of the lowest performing schools in the state to one of the highest in the Massachusetts. 
My take away quote, "It's about the adult's not the kids."

Morning keynote address Bill Daggett:  "Begin with the end in mind."  In his morning keynote address Daggett layed out the current course of education- to prepare students for college.  With statistical support, Daggett posited that we need to actually be preparing students to be College AND Career Ready, focusing on the "and career ready."
My take away quote, "Your major matters."

Deb Delisle:  "Commitment to kids"
In this session, the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education encouraged teachers and administrators to renew their commitment to kids.  One idea I loved was to create an "I Quit" file of all of the wonderful notes from students and parents to look at on days when you want to throw in the towel.
My take away quote,"The primary aim of education is not to enable students to do well in school but to the lives they lead outside of school."

Bill Daggett:  "Culture Trumps Strategy"
Ah-hah moment:  the concept of "learning together."  Mrs. McEvoy and I will be brainstorming a "learning together" project next year for our penpals. 
My take away quote, "Want to change school culture, change the test.  Don't test anything you can google."

Sharon Wolder from Brockton High School
The Associate Principal explained how they transformed from a culture of low expectations and poor test scores to a high school recognized for their academic excellence.
My take away quote, :"Put all of the negative folks together in the same group to marginalized their voices."

Next Generation Assessment:  Sue Gendron
Wow, a big change is coming soon with the new Common Core assessments.  In this session we analyzed the new assessments and the implications for the for what we will need to see in the classroom instruction and in terms of the technological shifts that will need to occur to be successful with these tests.
My take away website:

Quad D Classroom:  Alisa Braddy
This was one of my favorite sessions because I got to spend time with my wonderful Chaparral team.  

Learning through example, Alisa took us through a 4th grade quad D experience, using the Rigor/ Relevance Framework.   I walked away from this session with a real world understanding of what a Quad D classroom experience would look like. 
Take away idea:  "Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up"

"Effective Ways to Open and Close Lessons to Increase Rigor and Relevance:"  Denise White
This session provided instructional strategies to motivate students and insure student retention of information learned. 
Take away closure ideas: exit tickets and
3 things you learned
2 questions you have
1 thing my teacher should know
Take away quote:  "Consistent use of closure leads to significant increases in retention of information."

Other amazing highlights:
  • Networking with colleagues from my school district and other schools in the nation about best practices in education today.
  • Dinner in Georgetown  
  • Meeting one of Mrs. McEvoy's favorite students Dylan Loewe, speech writer to the Vice President Joe Biden.
  • Lastly, fireflies!!!! Spending the last few days in rural Virginia I had the magical experience of seeing fireflies the first time.  What a treat.

I am thrilled that I was able to spend an intensive 3 days in Washington D.C. learning about critical issues in education.

What were your take aways, "ah-ha" or favorite moments at the model schools conference?


  1. The conference was wonderful and motivating. I took away many great ideas that I look forward to implementing during the school year. Our pen pal program is going to benefit greatly as our kids "learn together." Spending time with colleagues brainstorming new ideas is beneficial for us as well as for our students. We the adults need to get smarter so our kids will do better.

  2. Dr. Sue Szachowitz'opening keynote, and workshop for educational leaders was definitely the highlight for me. Takeaway quotes for me: "Thoughtfully and relentlessly focus on instruction." Spending time with my Calabasas High School and LVUSD team inspires us, motivating our team to move forward with our Literacy Across All Subjects program to begin in August. Thank you, Sue Levy, for your insights and reflections. You're the best! ~CJ Foss

  3. My take away was that the CCSS are doable. It's a huge adjustment, but we can do it. They really are very logical, and I look forward to implementing them. Loved D.C.! A really inspirational place to be.

  4. Dear Mrs. Levy,

    What an inspirational and thoughtful blog post.

    The Quadrant D lesson was one of my favorite presentations. One reason was because I learned with my wonderful Chaparral team!

    An 'ah-ha' moment for me was that "Culture trumps strategy every time" echoed by Bill Daggett, Linda Jordan, and Sue Gendron.

    The conference was very motivating and I can't wait to go back and share this information with our wonderful staff.
    What do you look forward to sharing in the fall?