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Tips for Attending the 2017 Blended & Personalized Learning Conference in Providence

Sessions to bookmark and sights to see

The 2017 Blended & Personalized Learning Conference (BPLC) features some of the top classroom, school, and district implementers from across the nation. Once again, the conference will be held in Providence and is expected to attract some 900 educators and leaders eager to exchange the latest blended-learning strategies and insights.

This year DreamBox CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson has the honor of introducing the exciting lunch keynote panel. DreamBox will also be the subject of a Saturday session entitled, Increasing Student Engagement and Achievement through Personalized Learning. Presented by blended learning experts and DreamBox enthusiasts Jodi Tamayoshi and Dr. Michelle Paton, this 45-minute session will focus on proven strategies for increasing student engagement and outcomes.

We hope to see you at BPLC next week. In the meantime, our “boots on the ground” in Providence compiled some insider tips for making the most of your time in this vibrant host city.

Things to do in “divine” Providence

With more than 50 conference sessions on tap, chances are you’ll want to stay close to the Convention Center—at least during the day on Saturday. If you need to add a layer of clothing or replace a forgotten charger in a hurry, there’s a ginormous mall (the largest in the state) just steps away and you don’t even have to go outside. The Convention Center is attached via sky-bridge to the Providence Place Mall where you’ll find more than 170 stores, eight restaurants and a movie theater. There’s even an app for navigating that.

But, if you’re sticking around for the weekend and willing to walk a block or four away from the mall, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with all kinds of visual and culinary delights. Here are five reasons to hoof it in this very walk-able college town.

1.  Brews: Coffee and otherwise

New Harvest Coffee and Spirits Bar Talk about a blended learning experience. Bourbon latte, anyone? There’s no shortage of good coffee in Providence, but if you’re looking for something truly unique head to New Harvest Coffee, housed in the restored Arcade building on 65 Weybosset Street. The Arcade (America’s “first mall”) was built in 1828 and if you like a side of classical Greek architecture with your locally roasted brew, this place is for you. New Harvest brews single-origin coffee by the cup. They also serve small-batch, single-malt, and single-barrel liquors. And sometimes they put the coffee and the spirits in the same cup. Enjoy.

Insider Tip: There’s a “Speakeasy Side Entrance” you can use evenings after 8 pm. If you’re standing on Westminster Street facing the Arcade, it’s around the left side of the building.

2. Brunch: Because it’s the weekend after all

For a decidedly different take on brunch—combined with a leisurely stroll along the waterfront—cross the river over by Rhode Island School of Design and head to Clean Plate (a female-run restaurant) on 345 South Main Street for what’s billed as “International soul food.” Think banana bacon waffles and breakfast pizza. See for yourself in this mouth-watering video courtesy of the Phantom Gourmet.

Insider Tip: The blueberry syrup is homemade, served warm, and every bit as glorious as it sounds.

3. Creative inspiration: Take a break from the tech

Speaking of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, pronounced riz-dee), you may want to carve out an hour or two to visit the RISD Museum on 20 North Main Street. The museum houses nearly 100,000 objects—ranging from ancient art to work by contemporary artists and designers from across the globe. While you’re there, pick up a souvenir at RISD WORKS, the museum store. All of the items are designed and made by RISD alumni and faculty.

Insider Tip: Admission to the museum is free every Sunday (10 am–5 pm).

4. Galleries and good eats: Support the local art scene

AS220 is an artist-run organization committed to providing an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. In addition to maintaining residential and work studios, galleries, and performance and educational spaces you’ll see throughout the city, they also run a nice little restaurant and bar at 115 Empire Street that offers a fresh, locally sourced, and constantly changing menu. Eat here and you’ll not only get a great meal, you’ll help fund the organization’s not-for-profit work and Providence’s thriving art community.

Insider tip: As fate would have it, AS220 gallery openings and receptions occur on the first Saturday of the month from 5-7pm. They are free and open to the public!

5. Celebrity chefs: Get your tapas and reality TV fix

Providence enjoys a critically acclaimed dining scene and it’s really hard to go wrong choosing a restaurant. But, if you’re looking for something new and slightly offbeat with a little celebrity flair, head over to Red Fin Crudo and Kitchen. Located in the Biltmore garage on 71 Washington Street, it’s just a few steps from the Convention Center and serves unique tapas-style dishes inspired by the local and regional flavors of New England, Spain, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. Plus it’s run by husband-and-wife team Julio Lazzarini and Jenny Behm-Lazzarini who you may recognize from reality TV shows like “Chopped” and “Master Chef.”

Insider tip: According to the restaurant’s website, chef Lazzarini counts “Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, and Joe Biden among his famous diners.” Although we have it on good authority none of them will be in town on April Fools’ day, you should probably call ahead for a reservation (401.454.1335) anyway. Buen provecho!

See you at the conference!

Don’t forget to download the conference app too so you have access to room assignments, session resources, and venue maps—as well as push notifications and last-minute updates. Have fun!

Jennifer Agustin