Tag Archives: NovaNow

My Manifesto

From Josip Kelava

From Josip Kelava

David Jakes at NovaNow challenged us to move beyond mission and vision statements which are just useless propaganda (my comment, not his) but instead have a manifesto about what matters to us in education. So here is my manifesto for learning:

  •  When you stop learning, you’re dead.
  • Whoever is doing is learning.
  • Knowledge gained under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Plato
  • Hold your opinions with an open hand.
  • If your mother says she loves you, check it out.
  • Caring about justice is more important than content.

When you stop learning, you’re dead. Learning should be a lifetime experience. People who are no longer learning anything are figuratively dead, even if they are technically still breathing. Actually I think it is just about impossible to not be learning something if you are conscious. Learning of course encompasses so much more than what is taught in schools.

Whoever is doing is learning. I believe in active learning. If students are just sitting in rows listening or taking notes that is not “doing.” Learners need to be researching, questioning, experimenting, communicating, and tinkering. Learning is not always scripted but often looks more like young children playing.

Knowledge gained under compulsion has no hold on the mind. -Plato We can not force anyone to learn anything. Students cram information that they don’t care about for a test and quickly forget it. Students who explore their passions remember what they learn. We need to make room for students to control their own learning. And yes it is their learning.

Hold your opinion with an open hand. This is a hard one for students, but a mature person can see both sides of an issue and is willing to re-adjust their views based on new information. It also means being able to have a respectful discourse about a topic without getting hostile.

If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Every source no matter what the form: text, audio, visual, etc. is biased. Every piece of information should be checked out by multiple sources. The bias of everything should be considered when evaluating information. Bias is in everything, but does not necessarily mean that a source is not credible. Be slow to trust and quick to check out information.

Caring about justice is more important than content. There are two things that I really want my students to learn in my class. The first is part of the earlier points. I want my students to be critically thinking citizens. I want them to call BS and not just believe everything they hear but contemplate their own opinions deeply. The second thing I want them to learn is to care about people in this world and to make a difference in the world on an issue that matters to them. We have plenty of problems in this world to deal with and I hope that my students make a difference today and for the rest of their lives.

This is my manifesto. If you have never written one I challenge you to try it. It will help you think about what really matters to you. And don’t use the education jargon generator either. 

Thanks for making NovaNow SWEET!

12387232275_1b8d76e324_cJust a short post to say thanks to some of the core people of NovaNow. But not the people that you may be thinking. Of course we are thankful for the parents, students, staff, and especially our principal, Kym Kimber (she deserves a separate post at another time) for making this happen.

But we set the table; others cooked the food. We created a time and space, but everyone else brought the stories that made up the conversations. So we are very thankful for all of you that led a conversation this weekend. Some were large; some were small; some were dialogues; some had us creating; all were inspiring.

Finally a special thanks to #Miched. I definitely feel like the people of the #Miched community were the heart of this conference both as conversation leaders and participants. I want to give special props to Ben Rimes and our school’s own Jeff Bush. I remember when they dreamed up the concept at edcampGR a few years ago.

But I have heard many good ideas without follow through. These guys made it happen with the hashtag, weekly chat, blogposts, and later Brad Wilson’s podcasts. I can’t verify this but I feel like #Miched was one of the first, if not the first state hashtag/weekly chat. Other states have jumped in, but I feel like #Miched is the most active and really become a community. I am proud to be a “member” of the #Miched community.

NovaNow will always be a separate entity but I feel like ultimately it was a celebration of the people of #Miched to get together face to face and grow. I look forward to watching the future of education in our state because of this community!

NovaNow is like that.

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Ever have a deep conversation with a group of colleagues about learning and pedagogy?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever use social media to connect with educational experts?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever wish a conference was small, intimate, vendor free, conversational, and actually located in a school?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever wish students themselves were part of professional development?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever wish that you could chat with the “expert presenter” at a coffee shop instead of watching her powerpoint in a large auditorium?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever participate in a Twitter chat and learn great teaching ideas?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever talked to someone in the hallway at a conference and realized that it impacted your teaching more than the presentation in the “big room”?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever wish that you could see student centered PBL in action?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever wish that professional development involved critical thinking instead of following the latest fads?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever wish PD was less “sage on the stage” and more “guide by the side”?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever connect with educators and develop friendships that last for years?

NovaNow is like that.

Ever wish a conference was the beginning of professional development relationships instead of the climax?

NovaNow is like that.

Join us February 7-8 for NovaNow at Kent Innovation High, a New Tech Network school located in Grand Rapids, MI.

NovaNow Conversations

This week is the ISTE conference in San Antonio. It is the largest ed tech conference in the country (or the world?). It has thousands of people attending, big names, great sessions, huge vendor hall (someone has to pay for it) and everything else an event of that size can offer.

I will not be attending but this is not a bitter post about that. ISTE is great I’m sure and would enjoy being there. But today I want to talk about my school’s conference, NovaNow. It is the opposite of ISTE in many ways. It will be small, intimate, vendor free, conversational, and actually located in a school. NovaNow is about conversations with great educational minds in the MidWest. There will be no “sage on the stage” (we don’t have a stage actually). Attendees are a vital part of the conference because they ARE the conversations.

I want to highlight a couple of conversation leaders coming from outside of Michigan to join our conversations that you will get the opportunity to hang out with:



Shelly Blake-Plock is a former social studies teacher who started the blog TeachPaperless. He is currently building @AnEstuary, a new way of professional development for teachers. He also helped launch @DHFBaltimore, an after school tech program for inner city Baltimore students. Shelly is interested in merging digital/physical space, human-centered tech, and poetry.




John Spencer is a middle school teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. He actively blogs and sketches at Education Rethink about education and life. John has authored five books, including: Pencil Me In, an allegory for educational technology; Teaching Unmasked, about the impact of paradox; Sages and Lunatics, a memoir and critique on factory education; and A Sustainable Start, a realistic look at the first year of teaching.




Theresa Shafer is the Online Community Manager for New Tech Network. If you have ever interacted with New Tech Network online you were talking to her! She is the energy behind all of the social media resources and an expert on connecting people. Theresa also started and hosts #PBLchat weekly. Theresa blogs at ThereresaShafer.blogspot.com.





Brian Bennett is Customer Solutions for Education for TechSmith. He is a former high school science teacher who “flipped” his classroom. Brian created the #flipped chat and is passionate about student learning. He blogs at brianbennett.org.



The full lineup can be found on the Conversation page of the NovaNow website. I hope you will join us! This will be a weekend that you won’t want to miss!

Introducing NovaNow

color small 3This past winter I had the privilege to attend and lead a conversation at Educon at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. As I assume everyone already knows, it is a wonderful conference full of deep conversations with wonderful educators from around the U.S. and Canada. It absolutely met my high expectations and it was great to meet so many online friends face-to-face for the first time.

2012-03-26 07.19.18I teach at Kent Innovation High, a New Tech Network Problem Based Learning High School that is similar in philosophy to SLA. We have decided that Educon is too rich of an experience to be limited to the East Coast. A parent and a student that went with me to Educon met with Chris Lehmann and Diana Laufenberg about modeling a conference after Educon at our school. They were very gracious and generous in sharing with us how they set up and run Educon.

So without further adieu we are excited to introduce NovaNow, the Time to Innovate is Now! September 27-28, 2013 at Kent Innovation High in Grand Rapids, Michigan. NovaNow is a conference for educators of all kinds to share their best ideas, plans, and dreams about learning. It is also a place where thoughtful questioning and critiques are encouraged. Presentations are not given, but rather conversations are led around learning.

Photo Credit: A Deeper Blue via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: A Deeper Blue via Compfight cc

Located in the Midwest between Chicago and Detroit, this conference will coincide with the world class public art show ArtPrize, named one of the five festivals in the world that you won’t want to miss by Time Magazine. So stay Saturday night and enjoy the outdoor art on Sunday.

Check out the conference site to register or even better yet put in a submission to lead a conversation.  Follow #NovaNow on Twitter to hear more news about the conference. We look forward to you joining us this fall!