Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ed Tech Teacher Summit Boston 2014

Sabba & I before our presentation
I had the pleasure to attend and present at the +EdTechTeacher Summit in Boston November 12-14. On the first day I co-presented with +Sabba Quidwai. The title of our session was iPads in the Elementary Classroom. It was a a full day hands on workshop. We covered many applications during the session, the most popular app, not only in our session, but during the entire conference was Book Creator. While this app cost $6.49, every presenter at the conference agreed it was well worth the money. If you have an iPad classroom you should check it out. There is a free version so that you can preview the app.
Even though we had a lot to cover I think one of the most beneficial parts of our session was when we broke up into groups and everyone was able to share what is working and not working in their own districts. There is something very powerful about being able to tell your own story.

Teachers from all over sharing their stories. 

During the session Sabba and I ran a back channel chat (we used Today's Meet) and we were able to connect with one teacher in particular who was very frustrated by what we were doing. He felt that he could not use the apps we were going over with his students because he did not know them well enough himself. I told him not worry about that. He and his students could learn together. There is no harm in doing that, no matter what the age of the students. I told him the teacher can also be the learner and the teacher is no longer the "sage on the stage" in a 1:1 classroom. It took him awhile to absorb everything, but he seemed to be more comfortable by the time the session was over at 3:30 pm. Thanks to Sabba for such a wonderful experience presenting! If you don't follow her on Twitter you should @askMsQ.

On the 2nd day +Jordan Garrett (@jg_jgarrett) and I presented Bringing PLCs to Life with Google +. This was my first time presenting in front of a large audience of educators that I didn't know. I tried not to think about that fact too much. Our presentation was about using Google + as a communication platform in our district. We chose Google + because we are a GAFE district, meaning all staff has access to Google + Communities. We chose this platform because it is searchable (through the use of keywords and hashtags) and archivable. We have 2 communities. The first one is called The Toolbox.
The Toolbox is a place where staff members can
1. share resources
2. post questions

The resources come in lots of forms:
1. links to favorite apps
2. tutorials
3. curricular ideas.

The posting of questions has taken some stress off of our tech department. Teachers are able to pose questions and get answers in a timely fashion instead of putting in help desk tickets to our tech department. The tech department has also posted tech alerts and tips in The Toolbox. We made The Toolbox private to our domain since there is paid subscription information in it. We also wanted teachers to feel safe to post questions to their colleagues instead of to the entire world.
The second community that we created is called The Fridge. Our superintendent, +Stan Fields , came up with that name. It is a digital repository to post students' finished products, just like you used to post student work on the refrigerator at home. Our students have created some outstanding projects over the last 3 years that we have been 100% 1:1. The projects would just die on their laptop or their teacher's laptop. We wanted our students to know that they have an audience, a wide ranging audience. We are slowing building up the number of projects stored there. Our students are doing great things and we want the world to know about it!