We hit the ground running on day 2 – I think we had some good momentum coming out of Day 1. After we got our fill of fruit, muffins, and coffee we got right to work. I began by showing them a demo of Syncpad:
Cool, right? Then we all installed both Syncpad and Pages for the iPad. I bought licenses through Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program – which seems to work pretty well.
After that, we dove into the Google Calendar – syncing it with the iPad and using it for our classes. We can bring in our Faculty calendar (from our website) right to Google – a nice feature for all. It took some time to get everyone synced up – especially those with personal Google accounts – but we did it.
We then took an electronics break and went outside for another discussion. For homework, we watched the PBS video –
Digital Media – New Learners Of The 21st Century
We had a good conversation ranging from
– how do we assess this type of learning?
– how do we get the kids/parents to learn that process is more important than the goal?
– how do we incorporate project-based learning, gaming, constructive learning in a “college-prep” school where parents want their kids to get into good colleges?
– needing to become more a facilitator of learning, rather than the “leader”
The conversation was a refreshing – we all struggle with similar thoughts about adopting new pedagogies in class in a school where many teachers and parents still embrace traditional learning. I think it is a theme we will come back to again and again but it’s good that we know we can struggle through this tension together rather than alone in our classrooms.
After a yummy lunch of leftovers, we returned to Google and worked with GoogleDocs and Google Sites. Again, it was good to give everyone a baseline knowledge of Google Docs and its sharing capabilities. We worked through spreadsheets and Google Forms – which was really good for those math teachers in the room. Google Sites emerged as a good website for class pages – we have class pages on our website but they are fairly static and boring. Google sites allows for more customization and its ability to pull together all things Google is unbeatable.
We had covered a lot of details and tools in Day 2 and so we all came into Day 3 a little tired and a little maxed out. I started the morning of with a TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson – Bring on the Learning Revolution:
More good conversation followed including much around “how do we get there from here”? A great question to ask in this group because we are trying to adopt an attitude/pedagogy/curriculum which conflicts with the norm – we still have 50 minute class periods, we still have kids taking college board tests, we work on a team where other members may not be ready to move forward with us – there are all sorts of hurdle (or obstacles). What are the small steps that we need to take in order to get us closer to our goals? I think that is a question we hope to answer as we go this year.
The rest of Day 3 we devoted to individual/group work time. We took some time-outs to play with Polleverywhere.com and Voicethread. For the most part our brains were full and we just needed time to sort through the tools, experiment with website, and talk to others about the year and its possibilities.
It was a satisfying three days. We became a good working group, got to know each other, and had a good handle on what each person brought to the group. In order to facilitate continued communication and sharing as we moved into the school year, I set up a “dashboard” – http://www.netvibes.com/privatepage/1#TLC-Dashboard. The dashboard includes a twitter feed – we agreed on the hashtag #wayntlc. We have a Diigo group and that feed in on the dashboard. I also set up a group blog –http://waynfletetlc.blogspot.com/ – a place where we could share resources and share thoughts and experiences and we try new things. One member decided to begin her own blog –http://techforayear.wordpress.com/ – with a goal of posting (almost) every day.
It will be a challenge finding times for the group to meet face-to-face throughout the year but we will do that as well as use our technology to fill the gaps. I am really looking forward to growing with this group this year – they are terrific colleagues with a passion for teaching and learning.