Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tech Tips 01

Note: If the video seems blurry, try viewing in 1080p by clicking the Settings Gear on the bottom right of the video, then selecting Quality.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

STEM Summit and Leading Ed Forum Takaways

I've been busy going to various conferences, but I am finally taking the time to reflect on what I've learned.

Part of going to educational conferences is being willing to share what we've learned. It usually takes me a few days to get out of my own head and realize the value of the sessions I've attended.

October 19, 2017 - Leading Ed Forum

On this day my fellow Ed Tech Coach, Debbie Walwer, and I traveled to Culpeper, VA for VSTE's Leading Ed Forum. This forum was geared toward district leaders wanting to connect with each other and learn about initiatives they were implementing within their districts. 

I attended a session on Open Educational Resources (OER). If you are not aware the Virginia Department of Education is spearheading #GoOpenVA. This initiative empowers districts to adopt OER in addition to or instead of traditional textbooks which can become quickly outdated. 

Adopting OER is monumental--vetting, contributing, and using teaching materials is quite a process, but as educational material becomes more prevalent on the Internet, we need to start having conversations about where quality teaching and learning material can be accessed. 

I also attended a session on what the Profile of a Virginia Graduate will mean for teaching and learning in the near future.  

Teachers already work toward making sure their students are ready for life after public school, but the VDOE and the Virginia Board of Education has solidified and adopted a framework that address the need of all students.

Part of every child's education is going to include the 5 Cs:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Creative Thinking
  • Collaboration 
  • Communication
  • Citizenship
For the VDOE's explanation of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, you can watch their video here.

November 6, 2017 - STEM Summit from Longwood's ITTIP

More recently, Debbie and I went to Longwood Univerity's ITTIP's STEM Learning Summit featuring Dr. William Rankin.

Dr. Rankin's Cubic Learning model encourages teachers to thinking about how they are teaching in terms of context, content, and community. He characterizes context, content, and community in terms of dimensions that can be expanded. As students become more responsible for their learning, they are gaining a more authentic experience.
Cubic Learning Dimensions

As he spoke, I was certainly reminded of the 5 Cs that teachers and students need to use daily.  Understanding Dr. Rankin's model requires a little more discipline than grasping TPACK or SAMR, but the Cubic Learning model encompasses much more of what teacher are actually responsible for. 

I have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Rankin speak twice, and his insights are always worth listening to. 

Final Thoughts

Both of these conferences made my head swim--there is so much to consider before we get in our classrooms to start teaching. In my opinion, the VDOE's Profile of a Virginia Graduate is an attempt to take all the pieces of teaching that have been added over the last 15 years and put them together in a sensible way so that teaching continues to bring joy to our lives rather than frustrations.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Google Tour Builder and Google Expeditions Lesson

Google Expeditions with Cardboard

Setting foot on the Great Wall of China or seeing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre are not typical field trips students in America would take; however, Google Expeditions and Google Cardboard allow the inaccessible to become a (virtual) reality. 

Google Tour Builder Website

Google Tour Builder allows users to build interactive maps in order to tell a story. 

Recently Kate Garrett and I whipped up a lesson for her World History I Honors students. Don't stop reading. Because we used her honors students as our guinea pigs doesn't mean these tools can't be used with ALL students. I use the term "whipped up" because we put this together in 3 days -- not ideal, but that's what we teachers do: we have an incredible brainstorm, and we need to make it happen as soon as possible. 

While that may not be best practice, we made it work!

This is what we did:

  1. Students (either in pairs or individually) used Google Tour Builder to add information to a map of China.
  2. While students were working with Google Tour Builder, groups of 3-4 students went out in the hall to use Google Expeditions.  Several students had downloaded the Expeditions App on their phones and allowed their fellow classmates to use it with a cardboard VR viewer. 
You can view the students' assignment is here.  

According to Kate, here's what went well:

"The positives of using Google Tour Builder is is that it gives the students more of a visual perspective of parts of the world.  It is a program which they can build an 'experience'. I liked how the students could build their own vision of the area of the world that we were focused on. The students were able to create their  experience using multiple skill areas, critical thinking, geography, and writing skills to name a few."

We were a little ambitious for our first project as evidenced by Kate's comments here:

"On the other hand, Google Tour Builder is a program that does require a lot of time. It took several days for the kids to complete a map of around 15 locations. They were easily frustrated when the program didn't work the first time they tried to upload images, etc. Another aspect of the program the students found frustrating was the fact they could not share their tour builder with other people in the class. They worked in partners but had to use one computer to complete the assignment."

Carol Dweck's work concerning the importance of failure as an integral part of growth mindset shows teachers that students need to experience failure in order to be resilient and understand what success is. As teachers and adults we have experienced failure numerous times, but what do we do with those failures? When I experience failure, I usually go through a short period of feeling inadequate, and THEN I take stock. After licking my wounds, I think about what went wrong, and work to make it better for next time.

While the students were working with Google Tour Builder, they kept experiencing failure: plotting points on their map and researching those points was not easy for them. In similar previous assignments, they colored and labeled paper maps. Kate and I were asking them to do a lot more critical thinking for this assignment. My failure came when I assumed the students would be able and willing to dive into using new technology. Their failures came when that new technology required some problem-solving that they weren't expecting.

All of us came away with a lot of new knowledge and a little more resilience.

Performance Matters

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