Saturday, January 03, 2015

"I Want to Rock 'n Roll All Night!"

I haven't written in a while.  I just needed a bit of a break.  Anyway, on Friday myself and several colleagues joined about 350 other educators at professional development opportunity in a nearby town.  Initially, I was pretty interested in it, but as my break from school started to wind down, I must admit that I was ruing my decision.  I decided to go and, I am very happy that I did. 

The day started off with a speaker, Kevin Honeycutt, who has been an educator and now is a speaker and really, a great advocate for educators, students, and parents.  He told us his personal story, which was heart-breaking to hear, but he told of how he got himself out of that situation with his own hard work and help here and there from a few caring individuals in the school systems he attended.  When I first saw that he was speaking for 1 1/2 hours, I was really hoping that he was going to be worth the time.  HE WAS!  It was a great start to the day.

The next portion of the day was a breakout session.  I chose a session on standards-based grading.  Honestly, it was probably more appropriate for my administrator to attend the session, which he did.  However, it was nice to see that our school has already made some changes that will better help us move in that direction.  We have been spinning our wheels on this for so many years, essentially the whole time I have been teaching at my school or pretty darn close to it.  It will be a lot of work, but I'm excited for us to get things going finally.

We got to hear from Kevin again during a session that focused on social learning networks.  Probably some of the ideas I will talk about actually came from the keynote and even his closing, but regardless, these are some things that I took away from him.
  •  Kevin talked about using Google in various ways such as setting up Google Alerts for topics that are in important to you as a way to better utilize your time.  This can be for research and tracking people digital footprints.
  • Multi-tasking doesn't work for most people.  He shared a visual to use with students:  Draw a circle with your left-hand, stop, draw a triangle with your right-hand.  The first motion represents driving and the second represents texting.
  • He talked a lot about different digital musical options you can do with your tablet/phone, etc.  I didn't take many notes on that, because I didn't find a huge connection for my students, but obviously there are other teachers that may.  Maybe something to think about for a sound unit?
  • "What are you making that would make me proud?"  He stressed over and over the importance for our students, and us educators doing great things with these very powerful devices.
  • He has a YouTube channel and one set of videos that has been made into a free booklet is "Your Digital Dad."  I am already thinking about incorporating this into my adviser time.
  • Some tools that I've heard about but haven't done anything with: Dragon Dictation, Google Hangout/Skype to bring experts into the classroom
  • When students do research: 
    • "Find your answer on a site that I respect."
    • Delete posts from students without sources until they catch on.
    • "If you are where we are, great.  If you are ahead of us, keep going.  If it is something that is just a distraction, I'm going to take your laptop.  If you are sitting next to someone while they do that, I'm going to take your computer too."
  • "Everyone can see that." There is the great need for students to think about their digital legacy.  
  • He had lights on a podium as an audience attention grabber.  He said that he has ADHD and assumes everyone else does too.  Actually, that probably isn't a bad mindset to get into.
  • There's a virtual reality app called Daqri.  I'd need to look into it more, but he mentioned something about making a tour of a town.  I think students could use GPS units with this and maybe do some sort of scavenger hunt/geocache.  This definitely could tie in a math component.  Additionally, maybe they could bring Google Earth into this as well.
  • He had a block projector, that I need to check into more as a tool.
  • He mentioned the site Shapeways.  I think math, science, art could be incorporated into a project and students could have a design that people would buy.
  • He talked about running his classroom like a corporation to teach life.  I think this idea is compelling.  Perhaps in different units, this is something that would work well

After lunch, there was a job-alike group.  I was not quite as pleased with this portion.  While I think this type of session works at an Edcamp, where the teachers are all their on their own volition, it didn't really work in our session.  We got the conversation going a bit, but it died pretty quickly.  Some educators from the same school, just did their own thing.  Honestly, I think there were too many people that knew each other already and so it was just easier to socialize.  I should have spoken up, but I guess I stifled myself.  There were also almost all HS teachers, rather than MS teachers.  Oh well.

The day ended with closing remarks from Kevin.  Like I said above, many of the things I wrote about probably came from the closing remarks.  Regardless, he was an energizing speaker.  He had so many different perspective on things.  I just really can't do his presentation justice.  He definitely was worth the sacrifice of a break day, and I'm glad to have a positive frame of mind to start off this new semester.

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