I just came back from attending another great ISTE Conference. The theme this year was “Expanding Horizons” and the conference certainly lived up to that name. With learning opportunities from 300 model lessons, BYOD sessions, lectures/panels, 135 hands-on/seminar demo workshops and 400 informal/interactive activities, there was no excuse not to take some gems home with me to share with my PLN and colleagues.
Due to the sheer size of the Conference, I ensured I took those ‘tips and tricks’ (see video) seriously in order to truly enjoy the whole Conference! The Convention Centre in San Diego is over 2.6 million sq.ft. in size (615,701 sq.ft. total exhibit space and 204,114 sq.ft. overall meeting space) which keeps you busy moving from one room to another.
The 12 hours a day of PD with people, students, colleagues, Twitter PLN groupies, vendors and hands-on activities is exhilarating yet exhausting. My head is still spinning with ideas on how I can share this information with PSD70 teachers at home! I think these ideas presented at this conference really come down to three points:
Connections, Collaboration, Creation
Whether we work with students and/or teachers in F2F environments, we need to recognize that the online environment is a valid and important place to do business, learn and empower each other. Whether it’s showing students how to publish their work for others to read and comment or to Skype with another class around the world, teachers need to guide this process. An important factor in getting teachers ‘out of their classroom’ is for teachers to be part of a Professional Learning Network. PLN’s allow teachers to connect with each other, ask questions, give out suggestions, share resources, improve pedagogy, try new things, etc……AND one important way is for teachers to join TWITTER. Yes, I said it (or wrote it). If a teacher is not on Twitter and at least lurking about and listening to the various conversations, then they are missing a great opportunity to further develop themselves. As teachers we ask our students to learn every day; so should we learn every day! Also take time to view videos from TED, Keynotes from this Conference like Ken Robinson with Panel and Dr. Yong Zhao which give us opportunities to reflect on the state of education and how we EACH can make a difference! (Local P.D. is always a plus, but Twitter, Webinars and Videos offer anytime, anywhere learning!)
Get to know how to collaborate with colleagues – through blogs, twitter, special P.D. opportunities. As well, show your students the power of collaboration in the classroom with small group work, differentiated learning, etc. Use group backchanneling with TodaysMeet, Twitter or even a class Tumblr account. Use GoogleDocs, Mindmapping, Smartboards, iPads in small groups and listen to the amazing discussions students will have when they work in smaller groups. Give them choices in their learning and establish a framework on HOW this looks since most students (and even adults) don’t know what collaboration looks like, feels like or sounds like. (A good resource is Laura Lipton’s Groups at Work).
We now live in a land of creation, or, at least, we should be heading or involved in that direction. Students are exposed to a multitude of media and we should allow them to make sense of it all with our guidance. They can blog, create digital stories, develop timelines, share infographics, text local community members, Skype other classrooms, hangout in Google+, read anything thanks to Textcompactor, listen to text via audiobytes, make videos….
My head is still spinning as the school year winds down in Alberta. I am certain I will have more to reflect upon as I enter my vacation phase. I end with this statement:
‘Learning takes on many forms, many resources and is ever-changing. I need to recognize and embrace the responsibility I have to connect, collaborate and create EVERY DAY’.