I’ve only blogged once in the last 6 months due to location and occupation changes. I spent 6 weeks on vacation doing virtually nothing online and then began my new position and life in Prague as a grade 3 teacher at the International School of Prague. I’m still pretty much still in the honeymoon Cultural Shock phase due to my fantastic students, wonderful apartment and new friends and, I am in Prague.
But I am tired. After 3 years as a tech integration specialist, it feels great to be a classroom teacher again with my tribe of willing learners. However, classroom teaching can be exhausting even if you’ve been in the same school for years and I haven’t had the time or mental capacity to write or read blogs, completely missed the K12 Online Conference and the Global Education Conference as well as many Classroom2.0 sessions (thankfully all 3 are archived). I haven’t been tweeting or following tweets. I haven’t seen much of Prague either since the weather became too cold for long walks. But that’s about to change as I’ve been through the first trimester, report cards, parent conferences, portfolio collection and assembly, I think I have a grasp of the curriculum and have 3 weeks of vacation stretching before me.
In addition to the regular curriculum, my students have posted two written pieces and a word cloud on their individual pages on our class website and they regularly extend learning and skill practice (in school and at home) using various webgames and subscription sites. They individually recorded in Garageband, an oral reading of an originally written piece for a Voicethread related to an author visit. Most exciting is our participation in “A Week in the Life”, a pilot elementary-level Flat Classroom Project.
So, after catching my breath I am looking forward to reading, writing and listening to online conference presentations! In the five months of school remaining I am looking forward to integrating into my classroom:
- Final projects for “A Week in the Life”
- Use of Scratch and podcasting
- Connecting regularly with our buddy classes in Canada and Tokyo
- Connecting to Around the World With 80 Schools
- Connecting to Teddy Bears Around the World
They will all seamlessly integrate with and enrich our units of inquiry on Sound and our Host County/City as well as maths, reading and writing. I’m also looking forward to again reading (even after vacation) professional texts and favorite blogs. Why do I care about sharing with and learning from others? Dean Shareski sums it up for me in his K12Online Keynote. It’s so nice to have reached a point where I again feel a sense of familiarity combined with excitement about the possibilities ahead!
Apple’s VP of Education, John Couch closed the conference by discussing the challenges that we face in creating change and growth in education:
- Our current mode in education is like a steam engine pulling horse carriages
- Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. (Steve Jobs)
- Technology as a tool v. technology as environment
- Substitution v. transformation
Whenever I feel homesick and miss my family and lifelong friends, I remind myself of the opportunities that I have had since becoming an overseas educator. This conference was one of those opportunities. The participation of students, infusion of learning through the music/arts, brilliant presenters and the location in a beautiful, enchanting city and a school that has a vision for the future made it one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had.
My questions to keep in mind:
- How can I assist and challenge each student to learn and grow?
- How can I assist in transforming schools?
- How can I inspire and help other educators to learn and grow?
I have thought of teachers as conductors before, but have to admit I hadn’t given much thought to conductors and their styles of leadership. Posted below is Itay Talgam’s TED Talk that demonstrates a portion of what he shared.
- People want to be tested to the extreme, engaged
- You go on roller coasters, but only if they are sound and you feel you can trust that you can push and be tested but you will be safe
- When you cross the line, you need to trust that someone will be there.
- Above self-actualization is self-transcendence
- Control of the environment, climate should be there but there should also exist flexibility, pliancy. It’s not a matter of pulling and releasing a rope.
After Itay spoke, a string quartet preformed and spoke with and interacted with Itay about performing as a group. Then ISP teacher/musicians performed improv jazz and also performed with the string quartet. Itay facilitated discussion and demonstration of performance leadership and improvisation. I was left with the question, What type of leader am I? In the classroom? With colleagues?
Stay in the question(s): Reflections from the Apple Leadership Conference2010 (Part 4/6)
The first half of Saturday consisted of 7 Apple Talks, along the lines of TED Talks. Two of those were from ISPrague staff members and listening to them left me more excited to be joining a school where I would have colleagues of this caliber.
Links and quotes:
- ACOT Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow Today - moving from instruction to construction
- SAMR, Ruben Puentedura, Technology use continuum, Transformation not substitution
- Need to teach collaborative writing to prepare students for working in the future
- Visit the Alamo in Second Life
- Quest to Learn School in NYC – games based learning aligned to standards. Merging traditional and new illiteracies
- Students learning empathy and financial skills through KIVA fundraising accounts management- giving students the opportunity to learn economics as well as experience empathy and make human connections
- Student films- don’t always have to produce skilled filmmaking, but the story needs to be from the heart
- Cyber Security- keep the conversation with students open and on-going, circulate relevant books to staff, parents, students to promote conversation
- Full Sail University Online
Stay in the question(s): Reflections from the Apple Leadership Conference2010 (Part 2/6)
I re-read Clay Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, when I saw he would be appearing at the conference. During his presentation he shared that when trying to create change and growth, try many small things and if they fail, they are small failures. Then go with the ones that succeed, build on those and don’t sweat small failures. Don’t try to enact a big plan that may fail big. He cited Ewan McIntosh’s efforts in East Lothian, Scotland as shown on the community site, edubuzz.org. To me, Ewan McIntosh has always been right up there with Marco Torres.
Clay also met with the students who presented on Friday evening and discussed with them their learning and thoughts on school, the classroom and learning. He then sat on stage with them our last day and held a panel discussion that we could listen to and participate in. Clay was able to elicit valuable, sometimes funny, responses from the students (grades 5-12).
- Doing small projects on one big topic stick in your mind better
- Teachers can show us rather than tell us everything, Let us do things to learn.
- Prefer when work is connected to real life, teachers facilitate, freedom to choose tool to express ourselves and show our learning
- We like ISPrague because of the tools available to us, not just tech but the teachers as tools also. One student said, “I feel taken seriously here.”
- In a group project we usually have to use more than one app, everyone has their specialty and we help each other.
- Math- it would be better if there were many ways to learn, some absorb it and others need to learn differently. Split us up by how we learn and choose to learn. Connect the learning to real life more.
- Allow situations where students can learn from one another, share what they know and what they learned from the subject, rather than the teacher always teaching- sometimes it’s easier to learn from another student.
- Sometimes your teacher tells you to try one way, and you don’t want to try it because it sounds too easy or obvious, then you try it and it works and you get annoyed because they were right.
Stay in the question(s): Reflections from the Apple Leadership Conference2010 (Part 2/6)
Marco Torres, was another highlight of the conference. This was not a surprise as I attended 2 of his workshops at BLC09 last summer and soaked up his ideas and attitude. Marco is an educator with an open mind; when faced with roadblocks or reluctant students he stays in the question of what can be done to improve this situation, how can we allow this student to learn and grow? Further, at BLC09 Marco brought along some of his students, who co-presented with him.
I can’t hide how brilliant I find Marco Torres. But it’s more than his ideas. He is still working with students, he’s not an “expert presenter” even though his presentations are 100% useful and inspiring and he shares anecdotes where solutions are found for students who are at a dead end and now flourishing due to simple, obvious solutions.
Here are a few of his statements that keep rolling around in my mind:
- Stay in the question.
- International used to be a sexy thing, now it’s mandatory.
- Do you love what you do? You have to.
- Question for teachers, Could I have looked up everything you told me in Google?
- Nouns v. Verbs- schools need to be more about verbs
- Never ask questions you can look up. (Einstein)
- Traits of Innovators: see, associate, inquire, collaborate, take risks
- What kind of learner are you? More important is what type of producer are you?
- Include Who we love into our learning.
- An educated person is someone who is resourceful and connected
Next year I will be joining the staff at the International School of Prague and so I was invited to attend the recent Apple Leadership Conference hosted there. I have read and heard that Apple Conferences are well organized and well worth attending so I was excited to be there and also meet many of my new colleagues. The biggest thought that stuck to me was Marco Torres stating, “Stay in the question.” I would like to share about the Apple Leadership Conference along that theme; the ideas and questions that arose from the presentations and events.
The first highlight of the Conference was listening to students from the International School of Prague present their classroom projects and learning on the first night of the conference and later sharing in a panel discussion with Clay Shirky at the end of the conference. This reminded me of my recent virtual attendance in the Flat Classroom mini-conference in which I worked with students and how much I gained from that experience. Another example, while a teacher in at Horne Street School in Dover, NH in 2006, I co-presented with a group of my grade 3 students in a district workshop where my students prepared and presented a guide they made on how to research using the IIM Research process . The audience was the entire K-12 district staff and the feedback after was that the student presentation was the highlight of the half-day auditorium workshop. I now think that educators should never hold a conference or workshop without students present.
So my first question is, Why do we so rarely consult the students and regard their responses as to how to best educate and facilitate learning in our classrooms and schools?
Tags: iPad studentportfolios assessment
I recently attended a Writer’s Workshop presentation and the same week viewed the video, Up Close: Teaching English Language Learners in Reading and Writing Workshops, prompting me to think more about organizing reading and writing samples and reflections for a student’s portfolio. This coincided with the unveiling of Apple’s iPad and I also began to think about the value of the iPad to a teacher in an elementary classroom. The name “iPad” brings to mind a pad of paper- a simple, versatile tool. The iPad would be a brilliant replacement for the clipboard that a teacher carries around all day- an electronic clipboard full of documents containing student information, schedules, plans, calendars, anecdotal matrix sheets for reading/writing/math continuums, articles, personal reflection note sheets, and content reference materials. I haven’t spent much time imagining how useful an iPad can be to a student in the classroom, however once I have one I will find endless uses for learners. It is because I see the iPad as a mobile tool that I have been imagining how the iPad can be used in the classroom (and outside) mainly by the teacher.
My first thought for the iPad in my classroom was a place to compile notes and audio recordings during our Writer’s Workshop. When meeting with a student, I would touch the class icon to open a tile mosaic of my students’ faces. I would then select the face of the student I’m conferencing with and open his portfolio containing individualized writing continuums and other writing skills documents and anecdotal text notes. Access to the student’s own portfolio containing written material and audio recordings stored on the school’s network would also be available if needed. As the student read his written piece and we discussed his progress it could be audio-recorded on the iPad, allowing me to pay full attention to the student and record text notes later, although an application or document for recording quick notes could be used as well. This process would be implemented in a similar fashion for Reader’s Workshop where we would be able to record students reading a text displayed on the iPad as well.
During math-based activities I would have notes and group/project information open. When conferring with groups or individual students I would touch the student or group’s face/icon and open anecdotal notes, continuums, progress charts, etc related to that student/group. Further, I would be able to check a student’s understanding of a concept or skill by asking her to solve a related problem or task and record her audio description of how she approached and resolved the problem.
During science experiments or exploration students could be recorded describing an experiment while others in their group took still and video images. The advantage of recording with the iPad would be the ability to save an audio file right to that student’s “folder” on the iPad.
Outside the classroom on field trips or on the school campus the iPad would be used to record student observations, comments and reflections. It would also hold appropriate documents and maps that support the trip or activity as well as a document showing student questions that were posed before that trip or activity to refer to during the activity. Paramount would be having access to Google Earth and other web resources right there on the iPad display.
Lastly, the ability to sync my iPad with my laptop and store information on the school network would be incredible. I don’t know if this is possible right now, but I imagine each student’s “folder” on the iPad would be like a playlist in iTunes. New information added or documents modified in each student folder during the day would transfer to my laptop/school network drive when I connected my iPad to my laptop at the end of the day.
In this time where we are striving more than ever to develop more relevant and authentic means for students to learn, we are less and less able to fill in a roster book to document student learning. There is an ever greater need for portfolios that display student achievement and progress. The iPad’s long battery life, 3G and limitless applications add power for its use as a classroom tool (although I would need a protective frame with reinforced rubber corners to protect it.)
I believe the ways the iPad can be an incredibly powerful tool for a teacher and his or her students are limitless- what are your ideas?
From my table by my apartment window in Madrid I virtually participated in a conference this week that was held in Mumbai where I met and interacted with educators and students attending there as well as other virtual participants. I am not new to global collaborations and communicating with other classes via video conference but this experience transcended those with the depth and quality of the experience. The Flat Classroom Conference (part of Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis’s Flat Classroom Project) is not just students and educators from around the world gathering virtually and physically to collaborate and share. It transcends that wonderful experience with the depth and importance of the tasks at hand. This year’s theme was Opening Up Education “… a chance to explore what is happening in education globally and for participants to debate/create new solutions based on exposure and interaction with other ideas, particularly influenced by the circumstances in India.”
I felt fortunate to be working with Team6. I missed their work on the first day due to my actual work schedule but on the second day I jumped in and they shared their pitch slideshow which they were completing and asked for feedback. I was so impressed with their “first draft” in terms of the quality of the idea, how they presented it, the comprehensive coverage of their idea in the presentation and that four students who had met 24 hours before for the first time could collaborate so well. Beatrice, JeongMin, Will and Arjun shared how they were also surprised with how well they worked together- they thought it was “destiny.” They also asked me to contribute by recording a description of the manifestation of their project in the world as a very short story. I was surprised and pleased with this invitation and later, when watching their presentation live in Mumbai via uStream, I felt firsthand the excitement of this project when I heard my recording (that I recorded and sent 3 hours earlier) in a presentation given in Mumbai.
During those few hours working with this group I learned some new technical skills related to collaborating in real time with someone far away, but more importantly how exciting it can be to work with engaged, intelligent, altruistic young people. (As an elementary educator I know how rewarding working with younger children is but haven’t worked this closely with teens before.) We collaborated through Skype chat and file transfer, Etherpad for the working script document, and email. Their project was chosen as one of the top three requiring them to create a video presentation of their idea the next day.
This was truly one of those experiences that engages and challenges a person and left me feeling excited, connected, and inspired. Also, immediately after the closing of the conference I was left with the questions, how can I infuse the spirit and purpose of this conference at the elementary level? How can this transfer to ongoing learning experiences in an elementary classroom? I will first pose these questions to Will, Beatrice, JeongMin and Arjun
Lastly, at one point in the conference Julie stated, “I’m tired of talk about change” and went on to say that the Flat Classroom Conference is creating and exploring change. I couldn’t agree more.
Tags: BLC09, Conference, Presentations, Resources
Now that I’m back at work, I’ll have to reflect on my learning at BLC09 bucket by bucket from the firehose output of information/ideas/inspiration. I was viewing this video posted recently by Vicki Davis, about the open culture that is out there for use by educators and learners. Also, I virtually attended the ISTE NECC conference this year and have done so with other conferences and I was deeply grateful to the actual participants who shared their thoughts and links. In that spirit of sharing I am listing below resources and links that I have gleaned from many main conference sessions attended at BLC09 and #BLC09 on Twitter. It is definitely not a complete list and I welcome any additions you may want to add.
On a side note, during sessions and keynotes I took notes on google docs and shared a few of my pages with my friend Chris, who was in Paris. In reviewing the shared google docs recently, it was fun to read the comments he added.
Other conference reflections:
- Lee Kolbert’s BLC09 reflection
- Lisa Thumann’s BLC09 blog post
- My reflections and links from the pre-conference sessions
- #BLC09 linked Twitter messages
Session presentations (slideshows)
- SlideShare Presentations and Documents tagged BLC09
- Bob Sprankle’s Presentations
- Joyce Valenza’s Presentations
- David Jakes Presentations links wiki
- Lee Kolbert’s Presentations (Voicethread +)
- 25 Ed Tech Leaders to Follow
- Darren Kuropatwa’s presentation slideshows
- Jeff Utecht’s presentation slideshows
- David Truss Slideshare presentations
- Angela Maiers presentation slideshows
- Dr Howie DiBlasi sessions
Session presentations (audio):
Session presentations (video):