I’m live-blogging while in the midst of the third and final day of our district’s tech conference.
Taught a second round of my class on Web 2.0 technologies this morning. Had a few more attendees. The clear favorite technologies of those who attended: Voki, SurveyGizmo, and XTimeline. The teachers, paraeducators, and classified staff in attendance found that these three tools had the most potential for improving what they were doing in their classrooms. Several teachers are looking forward to having students see Voki’s talking avatars on their class websites. Others wish they had SurveyGizmo a month ago to use for their end of the year surveys. And a number of the teachers (especially at the elementary/middle levels) were excited about the things you could do in Xtimeline with multimedia integration. Stuff like Twitter didn’t go over so well – nobody could figure out why people would want to know what I was doing all the time. I love the non-geeky responses to some of these technologies. Overall, I guess the class was a nice first foray into teaching professional development classes. I learned a lot about the tech-savviness in our district (and lack thereof), which will help me to better tailor my instruction in the future. However, what I was most impressed with was the people who didn’t know a whole lot of technology that were stepping out of their comfort zones and challenging themselves to learn something new and conquer their fear of the new technology. I have been very impressed with all of this.
Right now, I’m in a seminar on Wikis and Google Tools, which is pretty cool. It boggles the mind how much Google is able to do. No wonder people say that, within five years, Google will rule the world.
More to come later.
Just finished up with the seminar portion of our first day.
In the first session, I attended a seminar on Creative Design – making documents more attractive and professional. It was a nice combination of the technology portion (different features in Word) and art/visual theory (where to locate important information on a page, for example). Very cool seminar that I’m already implementing in my documents for next year.
The second seminar I attended was on a fantastic program – Inspiration. I hadn’t really played with this program at all, though it’s been on my laptop since I got it in the fall. I have to say – it’s awesome. Essentially, it’s a tool for diagramming ideas – “making thinking visual” as the presenter said. It uses features that are just beautifully integrated – a visual/graphic organizer, an outline, various word processing tools, drawing tools, clip art, etc. As we were walking through the program, it was hard not to think of all the different potential uses in my classroom – outlining essays, constructing arguments, analyzing poetry, interpreting literature. Definitely a potentially exciting program.
Right now, we’re in perhaps the most exciting part of the conference – the collaborative planning time. Unfortunately, my department-mates aren’t here, so it’s pretty much my own implementation time. Even so, it’s paid (clock hours) time to work on putting our learning into action. I love this district.
Out district’s superindentent just finished up his keynote and I thought I’d share a couple of quick notes.
- The goal for our district in its use of technology is to make sure our students have the skills required to be successful in the 21st century. In this world, what will they need to be able to do? Somehow, we have to prepare them for jobs that don’t exist yet, in which they’ll use tools that haven’t been invented yet, and work with colleagues that they can’t yet communicate with. That’s a bit of a challenge.
- One of the big questions he asked: how do we teach somebody to teach themselves? Something I’ve been thinking about over the last couple of months is how I can do a better job of “teaching students to fish” rather than giving them delicious, alder-smoked salmon in lemon butter sauce…mmmmm….
- The last point that he made is one I’m planning on making in my own class tomorrow: that when we take risks with technology, we sometimes fail. However, that is probably the best possible situation, because it lets students see us in “teachable moments” – they see us learning, they see us problem solving, they see us trying to teach ourselves, and, often, they see us learning from them. These are great things for them to see. It was great to hear these ideas echoed from someone else.
Now I’m off to a class on Creative Design – should be great.
I’ll be at our district’s summer tech conference for the next couple of days, and I’ll probably post a couple of times – likely when I hear something really interesting and/or challenging. I am going to post right after this morning’s keynote from our superintendent, but other than that, it may be sporadic.
After prepping for my own class, however, I still can’t believe how little I know of the tech that’s out there in “Cloud City” (my uber-nerdy name for the internet).