Opal School Summer Symposium 2018

June 20-22, 2018, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.


“If you want to get people to think outside the box, do not invent the box in the first place.”

-Martin Cooper

Every summer, hundreds of educators committed to recognizing, celebrating, and extending the creative and cognitive capacities of children join Opal School teacher-researchers and invited guests for three full days of renewal through synthesis, dialogue, materials exploration, and reflection.

This year, our theme is Inventing The World. How do schools welcome, sustain, and extend the inventiveness of children? How are we creating new worlds together?

As always, we’re pleased that invited guests will join Opal School teacher-researchers to explore this question.  This year, those include:

  • Project Zero's Ben Mardell and Mara Krechevsky.  Mara and Ben's extensive body of work includes spearheading Making Learning VisibleChildren are Citizens, and Pedagogy of Play. This year, they've been considering the nature of invention education at Opal School.
  • Teachers from Beginnings Nursery will share what they’ve learned from working with children in their classroom’s mini-studios - and help you design studios in your setting.
  • Robin Koo and Wendy Gelsanliter from Teaching Beyond the Square will share insights gained from setting up a citywide materials center in Manhattan.
  • Stephanie Chang, Director of Programs at Maker Ed, will involve participants in cultivating worlds that advance the rights of everybody to be a maker.
  • Aeriale Johnson, kindergarten teacher at Washington Elementary in San Jose and a Heinemann Fellow. Aeriale's stories show how a pedagogy of listening inspires resiliency that transcends trauma.
  • Melinda Hayward, Kassy Ell, and Steve Davee will share how tinkering has led young children and the adults who work with them to invention in the Parkrose and Gladstone School Districts.
  • Janice Novakowski ​invites participants to consider how studio spaces are disrupting children's and teacher's understanding of what math is in elementary schools in Richmond School District in British Columbia.
  • Former Opal School educator Levia Friedman on project work that develops student agency in a neighborhood public school.
  • Members of South Dakota State University's Rich Normality Design Collaborativeon engaging design thinking to open doors.
  • Rob van Nood (Catlin Gabel; Tinker Camp) on automata for everyone (including you).

Here’s a sample of what participants had to say about their 2017 Symposium experience:

The Opal Symposium surpassed any and all conferences I have been to over the past 20 years.  Well organized and so much to take in on all levels and with all my senses.  I definitely will be back next year.

The classrooms and pedagogy of Opal School inspire and delight and the symposium helped me to dig deeper into the essence and importance and value of play.  The community, large and small, and the connections and relationships in school and the world are so related… I am now full of hope!

It was just what I needed!  Inspiration, contemplation, challenge, questions, networking, meaning making, conflict, pondering…

Priceless. This year felt so chaotic, so emotional and so full of doubt. Am I doing enough?  Have I held always in front of me my image of the child?  Have I encouraged others to do the same? Do I lean in, delight in, and learn from challenges and mistakes? This opportunity to be immersed in collaborative inquiry and reflection soothes and strengthens.

I learned so much.  Every day at every class/talk/activity I learned something that changed me and also really practical things I can bring home and implement immediately.  Also, it is heartening and uplifting to be around like-minded colleagues.  Even though I live far away, I know I have a tribe of educators who “get it”.

It is so rejuvenating and affirming to find myself amongst this community of inspiring and daring educators.  I need this. I need a regular, consistent diet of connections like those built this week.  Thank you.

This experience has changed me, not only as a teacher, but as a person.  I am truly in a better place than when I came here.

Heartfelt, intellectually stimulating presentations of children and teachers wondering and learning together. 

Although children weren’t physically here, I felt their presence… the power of transcribed dialogue, images, video, and artifacts of learning was most valuable to me – it expanded my image of a child.

The absolute joy of being in community – inspiration! – can’t wait for school to be back in session.

Feeling a part of something bigger gives me courage to persist.  I love the energy and hope of the people I meet.

REFLECTION… re-energizing, collaborating, and connecting with colleagues, asking new questions, reminding me why I am an educator, giving me new ideas to try in the classroom.

It was a whole experience – alongside others with the same commitment and passion and compassion for working with children.  I was again awed by the contributions that children offer the world. 

This has been the experience of a lifetime!  Philosophy is authentic and human. Visiting classrooms was like being in a dream. So inspiring.

This has been the experience of a lifetime!

Opal School Summer Symposium 2018 participants who complete coursework are eligible to receive credit through Western Oregon University for an additional per-credit fee.

Register for Opal School’s 2018 Summer Symposium here!