It was great bumping into my favorite peeps from back home, and even better sharing what we've learned AND bouncing ideas off each other. I especially enjoyed running into an old friend from my teaching days.
Then it was time to go learn something...
Session #1: Call It What You Want! Smashing, Crashing, Slamming iPad Apps 2.0 - Using Tech for Deeper Learning
Jen and Karen are tech coaches for the Mentor schools and two people who I've come to rely on quite a bit for outstanding advice and support as I make this journey. Their presentation not only provided a useful list of apps, but it also offered up a "philosophy" for app smashing:
- Begin with the end in mind. What is the final product you want your students to create? Work backwards from there.
- Create a list of apps you want to use, especially apps that might have the same function. This gives students both choice and voice.
- Smash the Flow. Create the flow chart or outline of apps you'll be smashing.
Session #2: Changing Roles of Students and Teachers in Instruction & Learning
I knew weeks ago that I would attend Anthony Luscre's presentation on the shifting paradigm of education because I've been talking myself blue about the teacher/learner shift for at least six years now, so it's always comforting to find a kindred spirit. Here's what I learned:
- We still need each other. Self-directed learners are teacher-encouraged learners.
- TAYH (Teaching Above your Head) is scary but sooooo worth it! Take the plunge. Speaking from experience, even if you fail, your students win.
- If you feel completely comfortable and in control, you are preparing your students for your past and not their futures. Wow...if that's not an argument to relinquish your tight grasp, then I don't know what is.
- Getting uncomfortable looks good. Students will learn the importance of self-learning, lifelong learning, the real test is the test of life, teachers aren't the only ones who should be doing the heavy lifting.
- You don't really know something until you can teach it. See. Do Teach. Learners are pretty good at the first two, but not so much at the third one.
- Competency-based testing is a better assessment of growth and learning than traditional testing. Get rid of your paper and pencil tests in favor of portfolios, oral presentations, sales pitches, websites, and technical writing.
- Spaces are important, too. Don't just transform how we learn, but where we learn. Change the way your classroom looks. Make it less traditional.
- Learn something new everyday. 'Nuff said.
Session #3: Your School's Story Matters! Use Social Media to Tell It
A little self-promtoion never hurt anyone (or any district)...and everyone loves a good story. Principal Ryan McLane and Assistant Principal Eric Lowe shared their social media story with us.
- Parents and students are reading your paper and email newsletters.
- Parents and students first go to the school/district website for information.
- That "all-call" system you subscribe to is really effective in reaching your audience.
Don't expect people to come to you. We need to go where they are, and that's at:
- To post student photos, permission forms from parents are necessary from parents (Hint: Instead of having parents give permission, provide an opt-out.)
- Revise your district's AUP to include consequences for inappropriate comments on social media.
- Always keep it positive.
- Consider posting a character message to students every day
- Don't use student names in your posts; or only use first names.
- Always post links that redirect to your school's website.
- If you're considering not allowing comments on your social media sites, remember that comments in front of your face are more easily handled than comments behind your back.
- Over-communication, IMHO, is better than miscommunication.