The Edge

“Students are the Curriculum” with Dr. Sonn Sam and Dr. Michelle Eckler

January 25, 2024 ISTE Season 2 Episode 12
“Students are the Curriculum” with Dr. Sonn Sam and Dr. Michelle Eckler
The Edge
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The Edge
“Students are the Curriculum” with Dr. Sonn Sam and Dr. Michelle Eckler
Jan 25, 2024 Season 2 Episode 12

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore ways to support student choice in our classrooms with some great recommendations on artificial intelligence use from Dr. Sonn Sam from Big Picture Learning and Dr. Michelle Eckler. 

Show Notes Transcript

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore ways to support student choice in our classrooms with some great recommendations on artificial intelligence use from Dr. Sonn Sam from Big Picture Learning and Dr. Michelle Eckler. 

ISTE CL Podcast Recording with Sonn Sam and Dr. Michelle Eckler

Michelle Eckler: [00:00:00] Welcome to 

Georgia Terlaje: the edge, a podcast brought to you by it's the community leaders, whether you're a seasoned educator, a visionary administrator, or a passionate education enthusiast. Fasten your seat belts because this podcast is tailor made for you. Get ready to embark on an exhilarating journey as our ITSD community leaders take you behind the scenes and into the dynamic world of education.

Georgia Terlaje: In the episodes ahead, we'll unveil stories from the front lines, showcasing the relentless dedication and innovation that fuels the transformative field of education. Buckle up and brace yourself for an adventure! Coming up today, we're going to be chatting about AI and real world learning. I'm one of your community leader hosts, Georgia Cherlahi.

Georgia Terlaje: I'm a TK 5 instructional coach and educator of 35 years. And I'm here with my favorite partner in crime, Jessica Peck. 

Jessica Pack: Thank you, Georgia. I'm Jessica Pack, a middle school teacher, community leader, and an ISTE author, [00:01:00] and today's episode has been in the works for a few months now, and I am really looking forward to our conversation today.

Jessica Pack: We are going to deep dive with a Special guest about AI and personalized authentic learning. Today we are joined by our fellow ISTE community leader, Dr. Sun Sam, the National Director of Partnerships for Big Picture Learning. Dr. Sam, thank you for being here today. 

Sonn Sam: It is a true honor to be with the both of you today.

Sonn Sam: Thank you so much for having me. 

Jessica Pack: Well, Dr. Sam, would you mind introducing us to the other special guests that you brought along with you today, please? I 

Sonn Sam: don't know if I brought her along because she demands and commands her own introduction. I had the gracious opportunity of working with her during the ISTE certification process.

Sonn Sam: I am a fan, so without further ado, I just want to give space to Dr. Michelle Echler, and she's going to introduce herself. Dr. Echler. 

Michelle Eckler: Hi, everyone. I'm Michelle Echler. I've only [00:02:00] been Dr. Echler since 2019, so it's still odd for me, even four years later. I don't know why when people call me Dr. Echler, I still kind of Look the other way.

Michelle Eckler: I'm waiting for somebody to call me Mrs. Eckler. So I am an ISTE community leader, ISTE certified educator. I work in Waterbury, Connecticut. I spent my first 21 years of my career in English language arts. I was a high school English teacher a middle school reading interventionist, and then a Secondary English language arts supervisor.

Michelle Eckler: And then two years ago, my district, as a result of the pandemic, decided to implement a position for technology. And I had been kind of leading the way throughout the pandemic in our district with all of our districts technology initiatives related to teaching and learning. So I requested a transfer and was granted the transfer to the position that I'm in now, which is supervisor of technology for teaching and learning.

Michelle Eckler: So I've been doing that. This is my third year. And the ISTE certification helps me with that so much. And just a little shout out [00:03:00] for my district, we just had three more people pass ISTE certification. So I now have four, there's four of us in the district, which is exciting. 

Jessica Pack: WE're really grateful for the opportunity to talk with you about a topic that is pretty much taking over the edgesphere. Artificial intelligence and how it relates to real world learning. 

Sonn Sam: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Georgia Terlaje: Before we start, though, could we just have son? Could you just could you tell us a little bit about big picture learning like what that is for our listeners that maybe aren't familiar? 

Sonn Sam: Oh, for sure. So we are a network of schools. We have about 111 schools nationally, about 100 others internationally.

Sonn Sam: But we believe to our core that schools and learning should be student centered. Mm hmm. and should really be centered around real world learning. You know, one of the fundamental concepts that we share with the world is just that young people are the curriculum and the community is the school. So we try to build ecosystems that really support that and foster that.[00:04:00] 

Sonn Sam: So, yeah, so some of the systems in our schools that we bring out into the world and we cultivate are one student at a time, which is personalization. Our advisory system, which is our small learning communities, a real world learning system interest driven project based learning and authentic assessment.

Sonn Sam: So those are some of the five. Ecosystems that we try to build in our schools to really help educators see that there's different ways of reimagining student centered learning in the 21st century. And so, that's the heart of our work.

Georgia Terlaje: How can we define student centered real world learning and why is it essential in today's education landscape?

Sonn Sam: Oh, God. You know, it's interesting because I'll bring it to light. You know, a lot of people have been waving the banner around student loss. And to that, I agree on a certain level, right? And I think folks are lazily focused on the impact of COVID, which is, which is accurate, right? But if we just take a step back and look at our national assessment for the last decade, we've been cruising around 30 percent proficiency [00:05:00] of our learners.

Sonn Sam: And no one has said anything. You know what I mean? And what we've done over and over again, which is the definition of insanity is we've doubled up in the ELA. We've doubled up in math, but, but yet the proficiency standards for our students just haven't made the gains that we want, you know? So one, that to me brings an urgency around really centering education around our young people.

Sonn Sam: Not so much where we spend millions and millions and millions around assessments and curriculum that we dictate to young people, but really seeing young people as a curriculum. So really, when we talk about student centered learning, it's just that we're talking about interest driven learning, first and foremost.

Sonn Sam: Young people are the curriculum, so depending on their background, depending on their culture, depending on their life experiences, they have a voice and choice. as they navigate through the education system. So we have a responsibility to give them a platform so they can share their voice around the things that they're [00:06:00] interested in exploring.

Sonn Sam: And then really the, the next piece to that is around real world learning. It's really around young people identifying areas of interest. Then we connect them with adult professionals who share that interest locally. And then the third thing, and I'm sharing the secret sauce openly because it's not a secret sauce, it's just what we do at Big Creature Learning, but then you engage them in meaningful, impactful work that impacts their community.

Sonn Sam: So, Yes, we are developing their academic skills because that's always at the heart of our work because everybody wants to see that and we all see what that means. But it's another sense of empowerment when a young person sees that, wow, like my work goes beyond getting a grade. But I am literally impacting my community with my work and my learning that is a that's transcending a whole nother level of learning for our young people.

Sonn Sam: And that's how you ignite the fire inside the bellies of young people. And so they [00:07:00] bring that back into school. They bring that fire. They bring that engagement. And that's how you transform young people to see like there's a bigger purpose around what they're doing and what they're learning. So essentially, that is what student centered real world learning is.

Sonn Sam: We Surface student interests. We connect them with professional experts locally that share that interest. And if we engage in the meaningful, impactful work that really impacts the community. And that's, that's our secret sauce. 

Georgia Terlaje: Well, I love that idea because that, that whole idea of just skills in a room in a silo with no greater purpose.

Georgia Terlaje: I mean, even for the little Students, the little kids that that's not as successful as you've said by the national data. I mean, that should horrify people that 70 percent of our kids are not achieving. You know, basic mastery. So I love this giving kids agency for designing their learning, but you're still embedding the skills.

Georgia Terlaje: They're just in a way that the [00:08:00] kids can relate to and are, and, and are, you know, it just, like you said, burns that fire in their belly. Like they're probably doing work at home all the time because they're 

Sonn Sam: interested. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, just as adults right now, I'll just ask a question. When, when you are really passionate about something, does anybody need to tell you to explore that or to spend time on that?

Sonn Sam: Like, 

Georgia Terlaje: no, they need to tell you, they need to tell you, like spouses will be like, can you put that down now? 

Sonn Sam: Yeah. It's interesting to me too, because that dynamic of just like, you know, if we're truly preparing. Young people to be thriving citizens in this world and to be thriving adults in this world.

Sonn Sam: There's so many truths that we know true, and that's just one of them, right? Because when you're excited and you're passionate about something, no one really has to tell you that. You just engage in it because you're curious, you want to learn more, you're trying to develop mastery around things, you're really trying [00:09:00] to see how you can impact the world and change the world.

Sonn Sam: Like, they're just things that we know as adults and that's how we move and that's how the real world is, but yet there's such a disconnect. In our K 12 system. Where there's, there's such a, a sort of learning paradigm where I need to tell you that in October, the second week, you need to be here, you know, specifically versus really having, I'm giving young people an opportunity to really share the things that they're interested in.

Sonn Sam: So, yeah, so that's, that's the body of the work that we do. We're really trying to create systems. Inside our education system right now that really gives weight to students voice and choice in an authentic way around their interests, connecting with adults that share that interest, and then meaningful work that impacts the world.

Sonn Sam: So that's, that's the heart of it. 

Jessica Pack: So in such a student centered environment that you're crafting these compelling learning experiences to really kind of like hook them into The content and then the anchor that keeps them there and keeps them motivated to work. [00:10:00] How is that impacted by the advent of AI in our classrooms and so much of our common tongue that we're talking about right now as a 

Sonn Sam: profession?

Sonn Sam: It's a multitude of ways AI is really sort of, I mean, just like everyone else with regards to our design, we're still figuring it out as far as the impact. But the speed at which young people are able just like the rest of the world to process massive amounts of information and have it generate with you so you can have a running start around an essential question that's at the heart of the learning right now.

Sonn Sam: So like when we design interdisciplinary projects with our young people, you can imagine that if they if we help them iterate a driving question AI could really pull out some information for them to review in a way that we couldn't do without AI just several, what, a year ago? I think it is, or we're still Six months ago.

Sonn Sam: Yeah, six [00:11:00] months ago, right? And so, with regards to the acceleration of learning, Hey, Michelle! So excited that you're here, friend. 

Michelle Eckler: Sorry, we had some really bad storms run through our area, and our internet has been messed up ever since, so. Oh, no. Fun times. 

Sonn Sam: Yeah. No, excited that you're here. So excited. I'm just gonna finish this statement, and then we'll All I want to say is that on one level, research, analysis, gathering, Around things that young people are interested in exploring, it's definitely a thousand times faster than we've done before as far as generating information that young people can digest and take a look at the other piece that which is really from a critical lens.

Sonn Sam: We're able to just develop projects much more meaningfully through AI because it's able to generate projections of projects in a way that before it took a little while to sort of iterate because part of it is exposing the young person to the different [00:12:00] topics that are identified in this career field.

Sonn Sam: Getting the mentor to talk about the specific industry skills that young people could be exploring. And they're really just talking about problems of practice within. So there's a combination, really weeks at a time, of really getting young people exposed. Because part of it is just really exposing them to the most pertinent issues of this industry, right?

Sonn Sam: So they can have a foundation with which they can decide then, Okay, I'm really interested in this area. But now with AI, like, Literally, I could say, I have an 11th grader who's on grade level, who's interning with a digital graphic designer. He's been there for two weeks. The graphic designer's major project is really around social justice.

Sonn Sam: Please give me some ideas around projects that young persons can do, and please align them to the Common Core ELA standards and math standards. Like, and literally, it'll spit out. Something that I could literally start running with [00:13:00] with a young person and say, All right, let's talk about this versus before you can imagine the complexities of just one by one.

Sonn Sam: I'm like sifting through that to talk with a young person. But now automatically it comes out and we just start. Hey, review that once we review that dissect that text. I want to have a one on one meeting with you afterwards, and let's talk about the project that you want to explore. So, so that's, that's the difference in our network that we're figuring out right now.

 So just piggybacking off of some, Dr.

Georgia Terlaje: Eckler, how are you seeing AI be integrated into the classroom to enhance student centered learning? 

Michelle Eckler: So we're just dabbling with it right now at this point, but one of the biggest things that we've been focusing on in the district I'm in, which is, I'm in Waterbury, Connecticut, Waterbury Public Schools, which has about 19, 000 students, we're an urban school district we have five high schools Plus two alternative schools within our district.

Michelle Eckler: We have three comprehensive middle schools, a bunch of K 8 schools and over 20 [00:14:00] elementary schools. And so what we're, which for me is big, I know plenty of other places in the country that's actually small. But for, for Connecticut, that's very large. And what we're starting to look at is how can we integrate it into the curriculum that exists within our district so that we're able to.

Michelle Eckler: Have students use it in different and unique ways than maybe the ways that they are currently used to thinking of artificial intelligence, you know, our students one of the first things that comes to mind is like, Oh, I'm going to get it to write an essay for me. And while, yes, you can use something like chat GPT or Google Bart or any of those to do that, we're trying to push students in a different direction to say, okay, well, if you're having trouble starting your essay.

Michelle Eckler: How might you be able to use chat GPT or Google Bart or one of these tools to get you a starting point and then go from there? We've also been doing a lot of conversations about how it's going to change the type of things we're asking of our students. I know that that actually came up at the ISTE conference when Mr.

Michelle Eckler: Coulada was on stage [00:15:00] talking about the idea that we have to start thinking about different different ways to ask questions, and so we've been asking ourselves those questions, and what then are the different things that we are going to be asking our students to do so that they can't use that generative AI as a cheating tool, but rather as It's a way to help them generate ideas, or use it as a thought partner, or use it as a way to revise something.

Michelle Eckler: We've also kind of been thinking about different ways that we can start to have our students use it when they're working in things like creating code, or understanding how to use Google Apps Scripts. Because the nice thing about them is most of these programs, when you ask it, like, I want to do this in Google Sheets.

Michelle Eckler: I want to be able to have it automatically. Make a table of contents because I have 30 different tabs in my sheet. Not only does it give you the app scripts, but it explains to you all the parts of the app script. So yeah, you can be like me and just copy and paste it and not always read the explanations.

Michelle Eckler: But from a teaching standpoint, some of our, [00:16:00] like our CTE teachers like to use it to say, okay, let's look at now what it said we should do. Let's break it down. And then sometimes there's errors in it. And so that's a great teaching tool to be able to. Find those errors in the coding that the students are trying to learn.

Michelle Eckler: So for us right now, it's, it's a matter of, we're in the phases of convincing our staff that it's not a bad thing that it is what our students are going to be facing basically for the rest of their lives. And while for many of us, it's the second half of our lives for these kids in front of us, it's the beginning of their lives.

Michelle Eckler: So we have to figure out how to harness it for good. That's, and that's really where we've been at this point. 

Georgia Terlaje: And I, I completely agree with you. And I, Jessica and I were doing a pre service before the school year with teachers and had done some stuff with AI. And it come across a quote from the education director of.

Georgia Terlaje: Of Microsoft, whose name I can't remember right now, but she had said to think of AI as a co pilot, not your [00:17:00] pilot. And I know we have communicated that to teachers that are scared of the things it can do, but listening to you, Son, talk just about like what it was able to do when you're creating the project ideas.

Georgia Terlaje: You think of all the bandwidth it frees up for educators to be able to do other things. And I think. I'll be interested to see as we march forward with all of this, like what is discovered about the ability to use the bandwidth that it was taken up with creating all that stuff that now we have a partner to help us create with.

Sonn Sam: Well, one of the things I'll just share. I mean, from the learner's perspective, but also as a grown adult now that's in his forties. One of the things that I love about AI is it just gives me a running start. Some people work really well and with a blank canvas, but I don't. So I'm just sharing my sort of approach to AI.

Sonn Sam: I don't take it. You know, verbatim, like, you know, with [00:18:00] anything, you know, on the Internet you have to be very mindful of the information that you're getting, and, of course, you have to double check the sources, etc. Like, those practices are still true regardless. So the digital citizenship side. I get points for tying into the S.

Sonn Sam: T. Sanders, right? Do I get extra points for that? Absolutely. 

Michelle Eckler: Okay, there may be prizes later if you hit. Okay, cool. 

Sonn Sam: Okay, cool. So A. I doesn't negate digital citizenship. You know, those are still prevalent and still needed. But for me and the same thing for for learners, it's just a great starting point just to start the conversation to generate from it.

Sonn Sam: You know, to get the gears going, so whether that's building their knowledge so that they can form an opinion so that they can research so that they can negate it, if they feel like it's not true, so they can go research like and find out the truth or look for solutions that have been implemented before, like those are integral pieces and critical thinking skills that our young people need to be engaged in.

Sonn Sam: And so AI really is the co pilot to really just get the, [00:19:00] get the gears going, but then really we, as the educators. We're the pilots to really just help them facilitate that and get them closer to the truth and get them closer to, like, really formulating their own concrete ideas. But I've always been that learner.

Sonn Sam: Like, a blank page for me is just like, I just take a long time. So if I have a conversation, if I have a thought partner, I move more fluidly.

Jessica Pack: What role do you both think that educators should kind of play in facilitating that AI enhanced, student centered learning experience? Because right now, what we're seeing in a lot of districts is people trying to figure out where does AI belong? Does it belong in the technology department? Is it something to be regulated by ed services?

Jessica Pack: Is it something student services needs to be super concerned about? So, how, how does that kind of all play together in your ideal landscape? 

Sonn Sam: I'm gonna give it to Michelle because I've been talking a lot, [00:20:00] so I'll be quiet. 

Michelle Eckler: So, we've been trying to Kind of put it in both places. So we see it as my role is the supervisor of technology for teaching and learning.

Michelle Eckler: So I, I kind of control the educational technology in the district, not the I. T. side. We have a separate I. T. department and we don't really see it with I. T. We see it more within the academic realm. So among within my group, I have all of my academic content area supervisor colleagues. So we have supervisors of each individual subject area.

Michelle Eckler: And what What we're kind of envisioning as the future is that I'm able to take the knowledge that I get from being able to go to all these trainings and participate in all of these different things related to artificial intelligence and then help our content area supervisors be able to integrate that into whatever they're doing within their content areas because I can see it being used very differently depending upon the different subject areas.

Michelle Eckler: And the different needs of the students, we've also talked extensively [00:21:00] about ways that it can help our pupil personnel department in figuring out creative ways to meet students IEP needs because a lot of times, you know, we look at depending upon what an IEP looks like in your state I know in Connecticut we have a new program that's called CT SEDS and that's a Brand new way to look at a student's individualized education plan or a 504 plan that a student might need.

Michelle Eckler: And so our staff are now learning a whole different way of looking at this. They're going to need new and creative ways to address those needs for students. Not to mention that many of our students are starting to have more and more access to different technologies in the special needs areas. I can give you a personal example.

Michelle Eckler: My nine year old is autistic. And when he first started. Figuring out how to communicate, he was using the PEC system, the picture exchange card system for students who are non verbal. Now he has an iPad that has a rather intuitive program an AAC device that allows him to communicate with us.

Michelle Eckler: And the other [00:22:00] day, I was trying to figure out, you know, there's frustration sometimes because he has trouble communicating with us how he's feeling. And so I actually went on chat GPT and asked it like, Hey, I have a child who uses an AAC device who has difficulty communing, communicating feelings. Do you have any recommendations?

Michelle Eckler: And I got a list. I'm not going to say they all are going to work. I know my kid, and I know that some of them are going to frustrate him more than others. But I can see how that might help a teacher even who's struggling to figure out how to meet the needs of a child who has either a severe communication disorder like my son has, or even just a child who has a simple issue.

Michelle Eckler: We've also talked about ways that it can be used for supporting our administrators, because we think about teachers and we think about students all the time, but sometimes I think we forget that our principals, our vice principals, our central office staff, they could utilize it to help them as well.

Michelle Eckler: I do warn them whenever we talk about it, don't just copy paste. We've seen what happens when colleges and universities do those things and it's not good. But [00:23:00] if you're struggling with a way to address something, it's a starting point because not only will it give you like a script. But it will also provide you with like coaching, you know, say when you're having this situation become focus on solutions rather than problems.

Michelle Eckler: And, you know, the same kind of things that a mentor might be able to say to you, if you were in person, you can get out of generative AI. Obviously I know it doesn't take the place of someone, but if you're in a rush and you need something and you can't get ahold of someone to help you I think that's.

Michelle Eckler: That's a great way to use it. So for really, I guess my ultimate answer is like, it's kind of everywhere, not just in one space in education. It plays a role in every aspect of what we do in some way. 

Georgia Terlaje: And I think that like it, we need to educate. The adults on all these ways that it could be useful and not scary because building on what you had said, Dr Echler, I know our district is in you three year three of rolling out universal [00:24:00] design for learning.

Georgia Terlaje: We've done a lot of training with that, and there are several sites that Jessica and I have come across that are great for scaffolding. Lessons for different learners or different reading abilities, where in the past you would be searching for all this and there are these sites that, you know, in like three seconds.

Georgia Terlaje: So, but I do think we need to get the message out and evangelize a little bit about that. It's not scary. And these are all the different things that can do. 

Sonn Sam: I'll also share if I may how AI is impacting our design because we, what our sort of gold star, if you will, is just high quality student driven real world learning.

Sonn Sam: And so really it's around the high quality projects that young people are developing at their internships or their real world learning opportunities. And with that, it's sort of hit or miss. Depending on a lot of variables, but what I've seen how A. I. So, like, for instance, there's sort of six [00:25:00] quadrants that we look at when we think about high quality student driven learning, it's helping young people leverage their curate curiosities to develop essential questions.

Sonn Sam: That's one. There is a connection to real world problems. There are products that young people will create at the end of their project and then really around being explicit around the skills that they're developing. So those are academic skills. industry skills. And socioemotional skills along the way and being explicit about that.

Sonn Sam: Now, talking to a young person, they're not that excited about talking about specific skills that they're developing. That's like the least of their concern. They're really interested. A lot of times they're really interested in products that they can create, you know, really just around things that they can develop and put out into the world and solving problems.

Sonn Sam: Like those are the things that they're really, really interested in. But, you know, as educators, we're trying to document their, their learning and their progress with learning. So. And I know in our world, specifically in our network, those six entry points to developing high [00:26:00] quality students are in real world learning.

Sonn Sam: So what? Those are essential questions driving questions. Those are the products that young people are creating the connection to real world problems, academic skills, industry skills, like literally I know I said this earlier already, but like, I can explain it. Upload a student profile. I can talk about specifically around.

Sonn Sam: Please connect the next generation science standards. Common core E. L. A. Math standards. The case of social, emotional learning standards. Here's where the young person is at. Here's the industry standards from the state. Please give me some options around projects that young people can work on and automatically it just generates for me.

Sonn Sam: And that's. To me is a game changer for us when we're working with young people and cultivating high quality student driven real world projects. So right now, like that is That is the heart of it because for us when young people are really flying high at their internship or like their workplace learning opportunity that's a game changer for us.

Sonn Sam: So that's one of the ways that AI is [00:27:00] really impacting it. Hearing you 

Jessica Pack: kind of describe that prompt workflow to get the desired scaffolded sort of result for the educator who's trying to guide the student. I mean, I think that's really powerful because we're still talking about things like teacher burnout and how much is added to teacher plates.

Jessica Pack: And a lot of teachers teach in a really siloed environment. Where maybe their entire sort of, you know, sounding board is basically themselves and maybe one other person down the hall. So I think that's really valuable because the idea of a personalized learning experience for each child can be a little bit daunting to a teacher who maybe has a classroom of 35 kids and they're just, you know, kind of in that more environment where things are just really structured and this is the way it has to be for every kid.

Jessica Pack: Despite the desire to, you know, personalize. So, I think that's really smart.

Georgia Terlaje: So looking Oh, sorry. Go ahead. [00:28:00] 

Jessica Pack: I was just going to do that one. Go ahead! If you want to go ahead. So, looking ahead, what trends and developments do you both foresee in the field of AI and student centered real world learning in the next 5 to 10 years?

Sonn Sam: Michelle, please. 

Michelle Eckler: Wow. I mean, I honestly so one of the things that I think is problematic right now with the use of especially generative AI in the classroom is that it's most of them are only for 13 and up. And so, you know, because of COPPA and FERPA laws that students under the age of 13 generally aren't able to access these, these tools.

Michelle Eckler: Without parent permission without signing in. And that does make it difficult for use in the classroom. And I think that if we're looking 5 to 10 years in the future, we have to look at how can these companies that are developed these developing these. Find tools that can be used with younger students, [00:29:00] because this is exactly what is going to happen when they leave school.

Michelle Eckler: So the earlier we can get them understanding the, like, like Sam said before, the digital citizenship side of it, understanding what's acceptable use, what's not acceptable use understanding what it can do for them, the more likely we're going to be to have students who use it appropriately as they continue up in the years of school.

Michelle Eckler: I also think that Right now, our whole focus in education seems to be the concept of mostly the like text based generative AI because that's what's most prevalent. But there's, don't forget that there's music generative AI, there's art based generative AI. And while that may not help us as educators to get answers to questions, it's going to be a great way for students to develop their skills in other areas.

Michelle Eckler: I've had a long conversation recently with someone about how You know if we have students who play the guitar, and they want to be able to put together a whole song, but they don't have more instruments that they can [00:30:00] play, or they can't find partners to play with them, we have music generative, you know, generative AI that does music, and so you can feed into some of these software programs, the guitar riff that you're playing, and ask it to create the music.

Michelle Eckler: a drumbeat, ask it to create you know, the baseline for a song. And so the more we can integrate even these types of AI, the more opportunities we're going to give our students. And I think that as the next. 10 years come up, we're going to start to see more and more types of a I in the classroom. And I, I do truly believe that we will start to get educators on board more not just the educators who are tech savvy and understand the concepts, but even the people who are, you know, kicking and screaming and don't want to be a part of it.

Michelle Eckler: I think they're going to start to see the importance of it as we, as we continue down the line,

Sonn Sam: 100 percent support that, Michelle. Just a couple of things that I'm thinking about is broadening the options for assessments [00:31:00] for young people. I think all of this, I mean, so many of us in the K 12 or pre K to 12, we're sort of, our work is preparing for the step after. You know, our system moving in the post secondary.

Sonn Sam: And still one of the major sort of milestones or challenges that we're looking to sort of acknowledge the brilliance of all young people. But yet we still have a very a culture of a very high stakes assessment. I think AI is gonna do a great job of pulling us away from that by developing other mechanisms to really measure the readiness of young people, whether it's skills, whether that's aptitude, whether that's academic skills, industry skills, college readiness.

Sonn Sam: I think it's really gonna impact that. The other thing I'm, I'm really thinking about too is because of the tools that are coming out already, just really the concept of Carnegie units and it's just baffling to me. That even in the nineties, the Carnegie Foundation really set out to say, Hey, we're [00:32:00] doing this wrong, y'all.

Sonn Sam: We're doing this wrong. Like this whole 120 hours thing, like that doesn't measure if a young person is learning or not, you know, they're the ones looking to change. But yet it has a such a grip in our education system. So I think Anywhere, anytime learning is going to continue to be more prevalent in the world of education with the help of A.

Sonn Sam: I. And also, I think really around personalization. There's just so many tools now where young people can really develop individual learning pathways or individual learning plans that are just so like matching their learning style, but also the pathway that they want to so they can really create a learning experience.

Sonn Sam: Specifically for them. And so the one size that fits all concept that doesn't fit all, we can really move to a place to it's really one student at a time, and we can develop a learning experience that is just catered to them. And the last thing I just want to say with regards to student [00:33:00] growth. I think we'll be able to set up systems to really measure that in a way over time that is much more dynamic that will capture in real time how young people are growing.

Sonn Sam: Yes, there's a place for the formative and summative assessments. I don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon, but they're the only narrative right now. And with AI, I think it's going to open up the narrative around different ways that we can measure growth, whether that's through digital portfolios of young people or just Whether that's badging, certifications that young people could be getting.

Sonn Sam: There's just a multitude of just ways that AI is really, forgive me, going to impact education, and those are just a few.

Jessica Pack: Well, thank you both for your valuable perspectives and this very insightful conversation. As we are wrapping up the episode, where can listeners connect with you both and maybe continue the conversation?

Sonn Sam: Michelle? 

Michelle Eckler: sO, I'm on Twitter at [00:34:00] drmckler, edu. And I also I have my blog that I've kind of fallen off on since the school year started. It's been a little crazy beginning of the year. I don't know how many of you use Clever in your districts, but we had, like, a nationwide shutdown of Clever today.

Michelle Eckler: So it threw everything into a tizzy. So that's Chalkboard. It's chalkboardsandwires. com. I'm also on Threads and Blue Sky, same as Twitter.

Sonn Sam: You can find me on LinkedIn. Just my name, Sun Sam. You can definitely connect with me there. I, listen, I'm gonna keep it all the way 100 with y'all. I just, I'm so conflicted because so many of my friends that I've met in the education world are on Twitter, but it's it's such a Oh, well, you can find me on Twitter too.

Sonn Sam: It's Dr. Sun Sam, that's my handle there, but it's so hard for me. But also my email is just sun at bigpicturelearning. org. You know, literally I'm just responding to emails just like everyone else. So yeah, LinkedIn, email.[00:35:00] Twitter. Yeah. Love to connect with folks that are really looking to reimagine student centered learning spaces within schools and outside of school as well.

Sonn Sam: So, super excited to talk to folks. 

Jessica Pack: That's perfect. Well, thank you both again for spending time with us here at the Edge Community Leader Podcast. Listeners, as we conclude this episode, we hope you learned something new, or were maybe given some food for thought to strengthen not only your practice, but also your heart for education.

Jessica Pack: My name is Jessica, and you can find me at Pacwoman208 on Twitter, threads, and Instagram. 

Georgia Terlaje: And I'm Georgia Terlahi, and you can find me at Georgia Terlahi. On X, which I still call Twitter, because that's how I roll. And you can find us both at StorytellingSavesTheWorld. com. 

Jessica Pack: On behalf of everyone at ISTE's The Edge Podcast, remember to keep exploring your passion, creativity, and taking risks.

Jessica Pack: All things that can bring you to the [00:36:00] edge.