Today I had the opportunity to attend the KCPT & TechNet Conference at the Indian Creek Tech Center with colleagues and educators from all over Kansas City. I learned a lot! My hope is to summarize some of the sessions I attended. I collaborated on notes with a colleague of mine, Matthew Krohne. You can view those notes here.
I have to say that as I reflect on the day at a whole, I learned A LOT. Every session I went to was packed with meaningful information that I'm excited to share with all of you and with the teachers I work with. I
Keynote - Mike Montague
I can't think of a better way to have started our day. Mike's keynote presentation was all about our mindset as we push forward in education. One of my favorite parts of Mike's speech was when he discussed "Dealing with Risk and Failure." I agree with his statement that fear is engrained in almost everyone, but he helped provide a framework for dealing with the risk and potential failure. He suggests asking, "Is the risk of failure so great that it would cost my job or have other very serious consequences?" If the answer is no, then the risk is worth taking. The idea here, is that if a risk is something you really want, and the negative consequences aren't fatal, you should GO FOR IT! As teachers, we will never make progress if we are always afraid to take chances and risk failing! In my experience, I learn a lot when I fail, so I've become more comfortable with it.
I truly believe that if teachers find a way to be comfortable taking risks, their supervisors/administrators will be supportive (assuming the risk is worth while). We as teachers need to begin taking initiative when we get a new idea. We don't need to wait for a new pilot program to be assigned to us. If we want things to change, and get better - we need to be the catalyst!
Google Geo Tools - Eric Langhorst
Everything that Eric shared today had something to do with Google Maps, and the applications in the classroom. For those of you who don't know, anyone with a Google Account can create their own map with mymaps.google.com. Mymaps makes Google Maps completely customizable. Students start with a blank map and can drop "pins" around the globe.
Here are a few basic uses of MyMaps that you can try in your classroom today:
With Google Tour Builder, you can program maps to tell stories! For example, some people have built tours that follow road trips they have gone on. Others might build a tour of major battles in a war.
See a short video about Tour Builder below.
In order to understand Google Views, you first need to understand what a Photo Sphere is. An example Photosphere is embedded below. Essentially, it is a photo that shows 360 degrees around the photographer and above/below the person. Google Views can be found ALL over the world!
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Google Views can help teachers let students "travel" across the globe from their classrooms. Students can visit virtually any place on the planet and see what it looks like. Imagine teaching about the White House, and instead of showing a slideshow of pictures, students go to the Google View which has multiple images and photospheres. Students can then explore the White House on their own! Imagine that! Anybody can create photospheres and upload them to google.
Game-based learning with Google Maps
- SmartyPins - Trivia style game where the player "drops" pins to answer questions. There are questions based on categories, or you can play all categories. I HIGHLY suggest you give this game a try. It was a lot of fun!
- GeoGuessr - This game is much harder, but also very fun. The game will show the player a picture and a map. The player needs to decide where in the world the picture was taken. It is pretty hard at first, but you start to pick up on certain strategies (like what language street signs are in, what animals/plants are photographed, etc..)
- GeoSettr - This game is the same concept as GeoGuessr, but the teacher can create the quizzes. This could be very helpful to review geography units or when studying local landmarks.
One-to-one Integration and Deployment - Dr. Jill Watkins
The main reason I appreciate that video is the fact that it simplifies the idea that the world has changed A LOT, and it has changed very quickly. Furthermore, the change isn't going to slow down. Based on my observations, the change will continue, and for a while, continue to speed up. It is for those reasons, that a systematic approach to one-to-one integration is essential.
Dr. Watkins explained that PD in her district is never focused on the device, it is focused on the pedagogy and the 21st Century skills that students are needing to learn. She says that their PD focuses a lot on the ISTE standards, and that teachers who aren't one-to-one are invited to the professional development because (again) the focus isn't on the device, it's on the teaching!
So how do we get from standards, to real classroom implementation?
By implementing Simple Shifts, teachers will find very easy ways to integrate technology in a meaningful way. Dr. Watkins offered the following notes on Simple Shifts:
- Simple Shifts are content specific
- They can be methods for formative assessment
- KWL, Mind Mapping, or Venn Diagrams
Now, I know that not all classrooms are one-to-one and not all classrooms will be one-to-one any time soon. So what about them? It is important that teachers continue to do their best to incorporate technology and rethink the way they teach regardless of the technological resources available.
Here are three models that Dr. Watkins suggested using in classrooms that are not one-to-one:
- Kiosk Model - Set up a computer station somewhere in the room that students flow in and out of. For example, computers could be left with a padlet open, and when students are ready to post, the use the computers, and then walk away. Or in a science classroom, a Google Form could be left open, for students to enter data throughout an experiment.
- Rotation/Stations - Rotations/stations work really well with the workshop model. This also helps to ensure that students have equitable amount of time to use the computers for their work.
- Partners - There is absolutely nothing wrong with having students share a device. Partner work is collaborative, which is a 21st century skill!
As always, please comment below with ideas or questions to keep the conversation going!
Thanks for reading,