Time, time, time. That is the word that comes up most often when talking about how to bring more technology professional development to teachers. During the school year, teachers just don’t have enough time to learn about new technology, get comfortable with it, and figure out if it fits into their curriculum. And we, as schools, are not good about making enough time for it. Educators therefore have to make their own time and fit in their learning where they can.
The K12 Online Conference is a nice way to get professional development when and where you want it. I just loaded up my iPhone with 10 podcasts downloaded from the K12 Online site on iTunesU. The K12 Online Conference is a collection of podcasts given by educators and, this year, students from around the world. Each podcast is a presentation on teaching and tools and how they help improve learning. This year’s conference, that went live during the last two weeks of October, had two themes – “Leading the Change” and, for the second week, “Kicking it up a Notch”. Among the podcast presenters are well known names like Dean Shareski, David Warlick, and Darren Kuropotwa as well as students like Ben & Ben from Yarmouth High School who talk about their own podcast show, and middle school student, Nicolas Gutkowski, who talks about “Learning on my Own”.
No matter what level or subject you teach, you can find a podcast that will fit your needs at the K12 Online Conference. I have just started to listen to these presentations and there are many good ones to choose from. I enjoy that I can access them when I am at work or as I make my commute home. This is just one way that you can make professional development fit into your busy life. Check out the offerings from the K12 Online Conference; they are most easily accessible on the Schedule page or from iTunesU.
The months since my last post have quickly gotten away from me. A crazy summer combined with the usual frantic pace of the fall has driven me out of the blog habit – both reading and (especially) writing. Today I’d like to start back up. I’d like to bring my blog back as a source of information for the faculty and staff in my school for new tools, old tools, and many “how-to’s”.
I thought I’d start by introducing this online whiteboard tool could be a valuable tool to many of my teachers. Dabbleboard brings the whiteboard to your computer – when used with a projector in the classroom, it can do many of the things an interactive whiteboard can do. The best feature I think is the ability to save work or templates for use in multiple classes or just in finishing up work from the day before. Visit Dabbleboard, sign-up for an account and begin to play.
I enjoy reading and watching Dan Meyer’s blog. He is a truly innovative teacher and I am constantly sending his material to our math department. Yesterday, he posted a recent presentation to teachers about Powerpoint and how to use it successfully. Throughout the presentation he also mentions a number of lessons from his class – a great demonstration on how visual cues can capture the attention of all. Click here for the Quicktime version.
I stumbled across this video through a post by a Columbia professor (former Bowdoin professor). The video was created by the chair of the Rutgers University English Department, Richard Miller. He makes a compelling argument about how the study of English has to evolve with the read/write world. In it he says of the study of English in the networked world:
(the study of English) excels in human expression and in the study of human culture related to human expression – we should be the place that’s at the very cutting edge of education for students in these areas.
I am glad to see more and more conversation happening in the higher ed world. It would be nice to engage in a k-16 conversation rather than separate k-12 and 13-16 conversations. Watch it and see what you think.
I’m working on an agenda of workshops for the rest of the school year. One tool that I’d like to get teachers excited about is Voicethread. I’ve now seen it used in a number of ways with a variety of grade levels and it seems that it can be a tool that can be added just about anywhere. I’ve been reading about many teachers using Voicethread successfully (and enthusiastically) with their students:
In Lower School, classes can use Voicethread with their own class pictures to create a audio/visual newsletter. Especially in the younger grades where students cannot write yet, this would be a great tool for the kids to use in order to better express themselves.
In Science classes, students could use Voicethread to document an experiment – a kind of visual lab report.
In Math, students could use Voicethread to narrate their way through solving a math problem in order to demonstrate their understanding.
In English class, they can put original poems or short stories to pictures.
In Art class, Voicethread can be use a tool to reflect on their work.
In Foreign Language, kids can create stories or tours using Flickr images and narrate them in their language.
In History, they could use use flickr images in a digital narration of a historical event.
I am looking forward to teaching some teachers about this wonderful tool and getting some kids excited about using it. What are some ways you are using it?
I’m sitting in the Philly airport with about 40 minutes left on battery. My brain is overflowing with thoughts and ideas that I’ve taken away from EduCon 2.0. Though I still need time for reflection, I have four main takeaways from Philly:
1. The students: What ever we do, it’s got to be about the students. We need to listen to them, have conversations with them, and help them develop. That work was quite evident at SLA. I was amazed at the number of students that took part in the weekend – SLA students “worked” all weekend manning video cameras, taking part in the sessions, setting up lunch, keeping us full of coffee and donuts, and more. When they were called randomly for their input, they gladly (and comfortably) gave it. You could tell that they felt part of the culture of the school and they were proud of it. (Nice work Chris and all the SLA teachers).
2. Keep having the conversations: We are all agents of change and we need to engage with others in our schools in conversations about teaching. Change will not happen quickly (probably slower than we wish), but it will not happen if we don’t keep talking the talk and walking the walk.
3. F2f conferences are necessary for re-energizing: EduCon2.0 came at the right point in the year for me. I was a little worn down and frustrated from the lack of adoption or even the lack of interest in adopting new tools by some teachers in our school. Going to EduCon2.0 pumped me back up again, gave me renewed hope, and a confirmation that what I am doing is not only important and worthwhile, but also necessary.
These are all thoughts I want to expand on later, but I wanted to get this on “paper” before my flight home.
Thanks again to Chris and company for all of their work on this wonderful conference.