Myron Dueck

Humorous, Inspirational and Global Education Expert

Over the past 22 years, Myron has gained teaching and administrative experience in both Canada and New Zealand in subjects ranging from grades 4 to 12.  Beginning in 2006, Myron developed a number of grading, assessment and reporting systems with his classes in which students have greater opportunity to show what they understand, adapt to the feedback they receive and play a significant role in the reporting of that learning.

Myron Dueck has been a part of administrative teams, district groups, school committees and governmental bodies that have further broadened his access to innovative ideas.  Myron has shared his stories, tools and first-hand experiences with public, charter and international school educators around the world, and recently his presentations have diverged to include global education trends and broader socio-economic realities that impact learning.

Myron Dueck has twice been published in EL Magazine. His best-selling book, Grading Smarter, Not Harder– Assessment Strategies that Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn was released by ASCD in July 2014 and in 2015 ASCD released a video project based in his own school district entitled ‘Smarter Assessment in the Secondary Classroom’. In 2019, ASCD released the first of a three-part online streaming series entitled ’Ask Them’, hosted by Myron, looking at how we include students in assessment. The series includes John Hattie, Lorin Anderson, Celeste Kidd and more. Myron lives in Summerland, BC, Canada with his wife and two children and is Vice-Principal for Assessment and Innovation in his local school district – Okanagan-Skaha 67.

Topic Presentations

In this humorous, fast-paced and broadly relevant keynote, we will start with the unmistakable reality that we are all different in our passions, skills and learning styles. Considering this reality, we need to make learning personal, meaningful and relevant, and essential to this goal is asking the student for input.

In an era of Facebook and Trip Advisor, where feedback from the user is considered essential information, how often do we ask  students for their opinion on grading, assessment, reporting or relationships? In ‘Ask Them’ Myron Dueck will argue that it is high time we ask students about their opinions and experiences as they relate to learning. By sharing the views of real students, and incorporating some of the tools used to gather evidence of learning, Myron will present the case that students have much to share concerning their understanding and it is time we listened very carefully.

Our embedded messages will either support to erode our intended message. Schools have mission statements and an abundance of rules and policies. What are educators and students to do when the messages embedded in these established doctrines collide with the very practices used in the school? This keynote highlights how mixed messages abound everywhere in our society and that the extent to which our actions contradict our words ranges from the humorous to the disturbing.  Unfortunately it’s no different in schools.

From school mission statements to classroom rules and norms, students certainly feel the brunt of mixed messages.  This keynote not only addressed the issue of confusing statements, but participants will also get a few suggestions and hands-on strategies to deal with the most obvious mixed messages surrounding standards-based grading issues related to homework, lates and attendance.

Legendary NASA Flight Director, Mr. Gene Kranz, famously declared that ‘Failure Is Not an Option’ while engineering the safe return of the Apollo 13 crew. Though this approach is essential when lives hang in the balance, it may not be the mantra to adopt when designing deeper learning experiences for our students.  Recent research suggests that creativity and understanding are the silver lining of struggle.

Furthermore, bands like the Beatles, who took great artistic risks, ended up fundamentally changing modern music.   Surprisingly, immediate feedback models and instant performance measurements can actually be misinterpreted as true student understanding, while our own life experiences suggest that difficulty, uncertainty and mistakes provide the canvas for long-term memory.

This keynote will make the case that if we want to increase student learning and promote competencies such as critical thinking and problem-solving, we need to embrace modes of inquiry, risk and exploration in which failing is certainly an option.

Perhaps David Bowie sang it best, ‘Times may change me, but I can’t change time.’ There is no denying that transformational forces are at play in the global education arena.

The Digital Information Revolution is arguably the biggest change agent since the printing press, so as the ground moves beneath our feet, are we preparing our students for an uncertain future or the one that seemed predictable a decade or four ago? Content is free and readily available, so are we changing our focus to competencies such as communication, creativity and critical thinking? Unfortunately we may still be gearing for the 1980s rather than the 2020s when it comes to our instructional, grading, assessment and reporting procedures. Our students will be heading into the digital and competency-based future with or without us, but thankfully there are signposts that education is adapting.

Myron will make a strong argument that instruction and assessments that include inquiry, differentiation, exploration and problem solving may certainly prove effective for an uncertain future.

reTool – Why we must equip our students to succeed in a world that values competencies over content.
When content was our focus, we delivered ample amounts of it with specific pedagogy. However, it’s obvious that the cutting edge of global education has shifted towards competencies such as problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity.

The global forum rewards the competent learner who has a sliver of innovation over one who has a broad but shallow knowledge base. Given that learning is a dynamic endeavor with multiple pathways to achieve it, how we design the context for learning becomes paramount.  As we teach students who will see the 22ndcentury, we should not guess what will be required, but rather help our students develop the tools that have always been necessary for both advancement and survival. ‘Retool’ means to ‘adapt or alter something to make it more useful or suitable’; perhaps this is exactly what we need to do in order to remain relevant.

Tradition is valued and upheld in many school districts.  While educational institutions have much to be proud of and should honor the contributions previous educators, what are we to do when new, and possibly contradictory, ideas and research appear on the horizon? Participants in this session will be challenged to identify the difference between upholding tradition and defending something that is arguably obsolete.

What if poses a series of questions such as: What if students could monitor their own progress?  What if we only measured personal evidence of learning? What if students could strive for mastery learning? This keynote will challenge educators to think outside the box and to consider the value of a paradigm shift. Thankfully replacement routines will be offered for each question.

Resiliency has been described in many ways. To pick one’s self up after falling down, to be like ‘Gumby’ – the green rubber fictional character that literally bounces back from every setback, or to bend like a willow but not break.

The American Psychological Association defines ‘resilience’ in part as the ‘process of adapting well in the face of adversity.’ In health, sport and business, some cite resilience as the number one predictor of success or failure. Research suggests we can increase our levels of resilience by the mental and physical habits we adopt and practice. A resilient person does not avoid stress, but rather learns to tame and master it. If this is true, what are some ways that we can foster resilience by the design of our classroom systems and routines? How can our assessment routines be built through an SEL lens? In this session we will explore a variety of ways that we can help students re-frame difficulty, talk more openly about temporary struggles, and learn from setbacks.

Join this session to explore topics including sharing circles, strength-based language, desirable difficulties and more.

In their NYT bestseller, ‘Extreme Ownership’ (2015), former Navy SEALs Willink and Babin describe the necessity of ‘Decentralized Command’: that ‘every tactical-level team member must understand not just what to do, but why they are doing it’.

If this principle is true for SEAL team members, it likely applies to learning environments and our students. Research suggests that how we engineer our assessment strategies impacts the perceptions students have of fairness, equity and accessibility. This session will focus on ways that we can invite students into the assessment realm as co-pilots rather than disinterested passengers.

Key topics will include:

-       Sharing and co-creating learning targets based on standards.

-       Helping students understand and use performance assessments (rubrics).

-       Considering the right scale: proficiency scales vs 100 categories

-       Student self-reporting – on academics, behaviors & personal insights.

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Grading Smarter, Not Harder

"All the talk of closing the achievement gap in schools obscures a more fundamental issue: do the grades we assign to students truly reflect the extent of their learning? In this lively and eye-opening book, educator Myron Dueck reveals how many of the assessment policies that teachers adopt can actually prove detrimental to student motivation and achievement and shows how we can tailor policies to address what really matters: student understanding of content. In sharing lessons, anecdotes, and cautionary tales from his own experiences revamping assessment procedures in the classroom, Dueck offers a variety of practical strategies for Ensuring that grades measure what students know without punishing them for factors outside their control. Critically examining the fairness and effectiveness of grading homework assignments. Designing and distributing unit plans that make assessment criteria crystal-clear to students. Creating a flexible and modular retesting system so that students can improve their scores on individual sections of important tests. Grading Smarter, Not Harder is brimming with reproducible forms, templates, and real-life examples of grading solutions developed to allow students every opportunity to demonstrate their learning. Written with abundant humor and heart, this book is a must-read for all teachers who want their grades to contribute to, rather than hinder, their students' success."

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