Winter 2024 Virtual Conference

January 30 - February 1, 2024

Deadline to register for the conference is January 25, 2024.

The MiCoOp 2024 Winter Virtual Conference will provide engaging and inspiring conversations for all MiCoOp members and guests including superintendents, principals and directors, teachers, mentors, board members, and legislators. The conference schedule will be updated as information is received. All times are Eastern Time Zone. SCECHs are available for sessions attended.

*This conference is open to MiCoOp Members and invited guests. Contact Lisa, [email protected], with registration questions.

Conference Schedule

9:00 am

Teach More, Hover Less

Miriam Plotinsky, Author
How do we go beyond establishing personal rapport to build a more meaningful connection with students that strengthens their sense of academic identity? In this session, author and instructional specialist Miriam Plotinsky breaks down the process of reframing relationships with "hover-free" teaching by highlighting strategies from her student-centered guide: Teach More, Hover Less: How to Stop Micromanaging Your Secondary Classroom. By looking at targeted ways to activate instruction at the start of each class as a gateway approach to affirming identity, participants will walk away with a variety of strategies they can apply immediately with students that empower their place in the classroom as learners, thinkers and scholars.
  • Participants will explore strategies to cultivate deeper connections with students.
  • Participants will discover approaches to immediate application in the classroom.
  • Participants will learn practical approaches for implementing "hover-free" teaching.

10:00 am

What We’re Seeing and What We’re Hoping For with AI in Education

Justin Bruno, Assistant Director of District Programming, Michigan Virtual
Dr. Jason Feig, Midwest Regional Sales Manager, Khan Academy District Partnerships
Jon Fila, Consultant/English Teacher Intermediate District 287
Dr. Mike Peck, Director of Technology and Innovative Learning, Pen Argyl Area School District
Panelists will provide a balanced view of the current and potential impact of artificial intelligence in the educational landscape. We’ll look back at all the changes that unfolded since ChatGPT’s release last year and share a range of perspectives about what’s happening on the ground. We’ll also discuss the latest developments in AI-driven educational tools and their implementation in classrooms, ethical and academic integrity considerations, and the challenges and opportunities that come with integrating AI into educational settings. Join us for what’s sure to be a lively discussion!
  • Participants will gain informed perspectives on AI in education.
  • Participants will consider the ethical dimensions and academic integrity challenges of AI in education.
  • Participants will examine strategic insights for future AI implementation.

11:30 am

Creating and Implementing District Strategic and Communication Plans

Will Heath, Superintendent, Portland Public Schools
Creating a district strategic plan should be a collaborative process that results in the effective implementation of the plan by all stakeholders. A communication plan can be an essential tool for any public school when aligned with the district's mission, vision, and strategic plan. In this session, Portland Public Schools will share how they have planned for the future and are working toward common goals through the strategic plan, and how their communication plan is supporting that work.
  • Participants will gain insights into the strategic planning process, how it aligns with the district's mission and vision, and goal-oriented planning and execution.
  • Participants will grasp the collaborative intricacies involved in district strategic planning, ensuring active stakeholder participation for effective plan implementation.
  • Participants will acquire practical skills to craft a communication plan aligned with a public school district's mission, vision, and strategic plan.

1:00 pm

From Our Perspective: What it Means to Unlearn

Facilitator: Kristi Teall, School Design Strategist, Michigan Virtual
Beth Head, Personalized Learning Coach and Middle School Science Educator, Northern Cass School District
Kim Keith, Instructional Consultant, Fraser Public Schools
Erik Orndorff, Superintendent, Pequea Valley School District
Carrie Wozniak, Superintendent, Fraser Public Schools
Discover the transformative journey of educators as they delve into the challenging process of unlearning deeply ingrained habits, thoughts, and systems in this panel discussion. Hear firsthand accounts from experienced educators who have navigated the complexities of shedding old paradigms to embrace innovative and effective teaching methods. Gain insights into the nuances of unlearning and witness how these educators have adapted to a rapidly evolving educational landscape.
  • Participants will leave with a heightened awareness of the emotional and professional aspects involved in the unlearning process.
  • Participants will gain practical strategies for identifying and challenging outdated practices in their teaching methodologies.
  • Participants will be inspired to initiate collaborative efforts within their educational communities, fostering an environment that encourages open dialogue, shared learning, and collective unlearning.

3:00 pm

Leadership Mindsets

Interactive Presentation/Discussion
Michael Haynes, Director of Instructional Services, Charlevoix-Emmet ISD
A mindset is a place where our beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors intersect to form attitudes and frame our actions. Mindsets influence the way we act, our ability to make decisions, and our potential. While mindsets are unique to each individual and context, there are three particularly essential mindsets for people in or plan to be in leadership roles.
Participants will leave this session:
  • understanding how a growth mindset can empower and inspire employees, and promote learning as individuals and as an organization
  • understanding how a systems mindset can ensure that the mission, goals, policies, roles, and divisions work harmoniously, result in equitable outcomes, motivate stakeholders, and build cohesiveness
  • understanding how an entrepreneurial mindset can be used to encourage creativity and problem-solving, and to give employees voice and autonomy
  • understanding ways leaders can embrace these three mindsets in order to strengthen their organization’s culture, and enable them to be adaptive, resilient, and agile in challenging times

4:00 pm

From Traditional to Transformative: Innovations in Professional Learning

Emily Sicilia, Assistant Director of Professional Learning, Michigan Virtual
Explore the wealth of professional learning expertise accumulated over 25 years with Michigan Virtual. Join us as we introspect on our triumphs, learn from our challenges, and unveil breakthrough innovations that have led to successful teaching and learning outcomes. During this session, we'll provide insights into our journey, sharing key takeaways and practical ideas to engage your staff effectively in professional learning initiatives. You’ll discover how leveraging pop culture can captivate educators, understand the significance of offering choice, and to empower teachers and maximize their impact in the classroom. We'll also emphasize the paramount importance of flexibility in professional learning. Join us on this journey to elevate your professional learning practices and make a lasting impact on the educational landscape. Leave inspired and equipped to create a culture of professionalism, where innovation and excellence thrive hand in hand.
  • Participants will learn how to utilize pop culture for engaging interest.
  • Participants will examine ways to offer choice in learning.
  • Participants will understand how to prioritize flexibility.
9:00 am

In Their Own Words: CLK Students On Personalized Learning Options

CLK Schools Staff
The Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium, & Keewanaw (CLK), a district of just over 1,350 students, offer a wide range of choices for students to personalize their learning. Hear from staff about the district's offerings in the traditional, alternative, and virtual learning environments. Students from each of these areas will join them to share how flexibility and choice have impacted their learning and growth.
  • Participants will gain insight into personalized learning options in a small district.
  • Participants will understand the impact of flexibility and choice on student learning.
SPONSOR: Modern Classrooms Project

11:00 am

Authentic Intelligence & AI's Role in the Classroom

Betsy Springer, Instructional Coach, Gull Lake Virtual Partnership
In this session, we will define AI, LLM, and GPT, identify ethical uses of AI for teachers and students, and explore the limitations of generative AI use and detection. We will discuss the reasons students turn to AI and what can be done to promote responsible AI usage.
Reflective Questions:
  • Are there specific ethical concerns related to AI usage in education that you are aware of or have encountered? How can ethical considerations be integrated into teaching and learning practices?
  • Consider the reasons why students might turn to AI tools in their studies. Can you think of instances where AI may be a helpful resource for students? How can educators strike a balance between promoting AI usage for learning and discouraging unethical behavior?
  • Reflect on your own teaching or learning practices. Are there any changes or adaptations you would consider making in light of the discussions in this session regarding AI and its ethical implications?

1:00 pm

Using MI ELA Model Competencies in the Classroom

Eric Flessa, Work Based Learning Coordinator, Troy College and Career High School
MDE, with support from ELA educators from around the state, developed model competencies from the state standards. These competencies can be used to develop lessons, resources, and support and guide the development of local assessments and competency-based grading and reporting. Join this session to hear from an educator who blends the model competencies with district requirements and from his students who retain, transfer, and apply their knowledge because of them.
  • Participants will gain practical insights into applying MI ELA Model Competencies.
  • Participants will receive guidance on aligning competencies with district requirements.
  • Participants will understand student perspectives on using model competencies.

2:00 pm

Legislative Update and Discussion

Betsy Springer, MiCoOp Legislative Advocate
Dive into recent legislative changes impacting virtual and innovative education in Michigan. Following the update, engage in a Q&A session to discuss practical implications and share experiences. Connect with fellow educators, administrators, and stakeholders to collaboratively shape the future of virtual and innovative schools in Michigan. Don't miss this opportunity to stay informed and actively participate in the evolving educational landscape.

3:00 pm

Hybrid Schools in Action: Rethinking School and Learning Practices

Kim Loomis, Innovation Strategist, i3DigitalPD and Dan Mahlandt, Principal, Valor Preparatory Academy
Hybrid learning combines face-to-face instruction with online learning while reducing the number of students on campus and/or shifting the number of days in the building. With limited onsite days, schools are challenged to create an environment where students socially connect with peers and actively engage in learning with their teachers. Join us as we discuss how hybrid schools across the nation are rethinking school and learning practices.
  • Discover various hybrid school models, structures, and practices.
  • Examine how partnering with digital content takes some of the load off teachers so that their time with students is focused on high-order thinking and actively engaging learning.
  • Explore how hybrid learning students are empowered to take ownership of their own learning.

9:00 am

Leveraging Community Talent and Technology: A Proposal for Affordable, Local Online Learning

Mike Dahlinger, Administrator of School Partnerships, and Holly Boleski, Manager of District Programming, Michigan Virtual
Offering students varied, flexible, and customized learning options is no longer a luxury. It’s an expectation. This session will present a model for district/community collaboration to deliver affordable, high-quality online courses facilitated by trained local instructors. Blending technology with local teaching talent can provide students with more flexible and personalized learning while yielding cost savings for resource-constrained schools. The result? Schools and districts that provide quality digital learning choices for their communities maintain enrollments and have greater individualized student learning over those that don’t.
Reflective Questions:
  • How can online learning benefit your students?
  • How can online learning benefit local instructors/schools?
  • Increasing flexibility and offerings for students truly individualizes learning.

10:00 am

BSPS Journey Towards Personalized Learning

Thomas Bruce, Superintendent, Steve Spenner, Assistant Superintendent, Jeff Yauchstetter, Assistant Superintendent for Innovation & Personalized Learning
Berrien Springs Public Schools has been at the forefront of personalizing learning for students in Michigan for over 15 years. What began with a commitment to project-based learning after seeing its value in homeschooled families, Berrien has embraced virtual learning, transitioned to standards-based grading, and moved along the path toward competency-based education. As the district implements its Quality Review Process, re-calibration is necessary along the journey. Join us to hear about the challenges and successes on their journey and where they are going.
  • Participants will examine the evolution of personalized learning in a Michigan school district.
  • Participants will discover some of the challenges and successes in implementing personalized learning.
  • Participants will gain insight into the need for recalibration along their personalized learning journey.

11:30 am

Sharing Student Success to Further Personalized Learning

Mitch Cumings, Director of Off-Site & Alternative Programs, Berrien Springs Public Schools
Personalizing learning through innovative options is often misunderstood and generally results in pushback. Join this 45-minute discussion as we talk about how to gather student success stories, where to house them, who to share them with, how to include data, and more. This is not a presentation, but a time to discuss challenges to sharing student stories, brainstorm ideas to overcome those challenges, and hear what others are already doing.
Possible Discussion Questions:
  • How are you currently sharing student success stories? What is the medium and content?
  • What is keeping you from sharing student success stories?
  • What is the difference between sharing your program success and individual student success?
  • Who are the audiences for student success stories? Should we reach different stakeholders with different messages?
  • Does data tie into student success stories? If so, how?

1:00 pm

What You Want to Know About Balanced Calendars

Panel Discussion
Diane Foster, Superintendent, Akron-Fairgrove Schools
David Hornak, Superintendent, Holt Public Schools and Executive Director, National Association for Year-Round Education
Wyatt Stevens, Principal at Rolland-Warner 6/7 Campus, Lapeer Community Schools
Have you considered implementing a balanced calendar but couldn’t visualize how it would work in your district? In this session, panelists will share insights and strategies, addressing challenges and fostering a positive learning environment whether in a school or district-wide. Learn about the direct impact on student attendance, academic performance, and community engagement. Bring your questions and join us for a conversation on reshaping the traditional school year for enhanced student success.
Reflective Questions:
  • Participants will gain an understanding of the practical impact of a balanced calendar on student attendance, academic performance, and community engagement.
  • Participants will acquire practical insights and strategies, equipping them to navigate challenges and optimize the implementation of a balanced calendar.
  • Participants will actively engage with the panelists, fostering a dynamic discussion and exchanging ideas.
SPONSOR: StrongMind

3:00 pm

Synchronous Sessions: Why, When, How, Required?

Kim Loomis, Innovation Strategist, i3DigitalPD and Jean Sharp, Sharp Solutions & Services Group
Many students prefer taking online courses and/or hybrid learning because they allow greater flexibility. Yet, are live synchronous sessions necessary for quality instruction and/or student learning? Synchronous learning means that students log into an online platform or come to a physical building to participate in class at a specific time with peers and their instructor. Join us as we talk about why to use synchronous sessions, when to use them, along with best practices - such as, should synchronous sessions be required.
  • Evaluate live instruction in online and hybrid learning environments.
  • Build a shared understanding of synchronous session best practices.
  • Discuss whether synchronous sessions are necessary for quality instruction and/or student learning.


Click here for Winter Conference sponsor information.