It was an unexpected surprise to be approached by the EdTechTeam to write a blog for their site about the digital work my students are regularly creating with Google and mobile tools. At first, I thought “what am I possibly going to be able to teach others”? I suppose if there is one thing that I sometimes notice it’s that the discussion about the edtech-amplified work of our younger learners is not always readily available. In primary especially, there are so many factors that impact the ability for teachers to dive deep into tech-integration (e.g., access to tech, the time and scaffolding required to learn new apps, logging in, etc.). I have been so very fortunate to be able to fund a 1:1 device classroom, partly due to Ministry TLLP funding. As such, I am agressively developing the ‘digital toolbelts’ of my grade 3’s as much as possible in an effort to determine trends around their selection of tech tools and apps that I can then share forward with others.
Students are very proud of their work. The wow-factor in ‘publishing’ their daily thinking digitally every day is seen on the faces of parents during sharing events in the classroom. The engagement factor of using digital tools to share thinking has not wained in the least. Students are solidifying new modalities for communicating their knowledge. I decided to focus on our class mantra ‘Create-Explore-Digitize-Reflect & Connect’ and piece together a blog that leans towards the big wins in my classroom this year. There are too many to include in a short piece of writing – but I consider that a ‘win’ as well.
Click here to read my EdTechTeam.com Blog on Amplifying Student Voice with Edtech
For the full-colour, chock-full of samples version, check out the Google Site I created to build my blog ideas here. I am so fortunate to have a group of students and parents this year that are open to sharing work with other teachers as part of our TLLP sharing. I cannot take the credit for the work of my grade 3’s – it is such a treat and honour to be able to showcase some of their thinking and creativity with an authentic audience.
It’s official. This is my last Spring as an elementary school homeroom teacher for a while. The school where I’ve spent the last thirteen years succeeding, failing and improving will be in my rear-view on the last day of school. I don’t know how I feel about that yet – ask me after June 28th. I have accepted an Instructional Coach position for the Board effective this fall.
I’m thrilled. It feels right. The timing is good. There is certainly uncertainty about what this new role, new direction, will feel like. I’m quite used to the great peaks and pitfalls of daily classroom teaching. No two days are the same and students keep you on your toes at all times. The 3:30 bell usually arrives before you’re ready for it. How long will it take to adjust to a role less defined by bells?
I really do like change, as long as I feel as though I have something to offer. I feel that a lot of my recent experiences will serve me well in the coaching role. I will have the opportunity to be a teacher resource in a small grouping of schools. A friend and colleague of mine told me to enjoy the role as it is a gift of a position. I’m holding onto that sentiment tightly. I’m an appreciative guy, and I already feel richer for this upcoming experience. Pay it forward.
The Ontario Summit hosted by the EdTechTeam in Cambridge was last weekend. It was a sold out crowd of 450 educators spending their weekend learning from, and with, each other. It was my third Summit and I again offered a session on google applications in a primary/junior classroom. Math was the focus this time, primarily as my Ministry TLLP project has really focused my edtech exploration into the math world.
For those who haven’t been, imagine a huge buzz in the halls, starting with registration and lasting until the final keynote the next day. Lunch is noisy as connected educators finally meet face to face after having following each other on twitter months before. Sessions overflow onto floors and into hallways. Selfies are taken and personal devices become loaded with ideas to use back in the classroom. Twitter feeds quote speakers and share new learning. It really is quite an experience.
Presenting a session is usually a blast. I must admit, it’s tricky to keep your mojo when people are sitting everywhere and the screen is across the room from the computer station running the slide deck, but hey – we’re pros, right? It is so satisfying sharing ideas with 45 eager learners. It truly is putting yourself ‘out there’, however I find that the sessions have opened me to new learning and opportunities to work with others, all the while providing me great feedback on how to run PD for adults. I highly recommend that all teachers offer a session at some point. Everyone has unique insights that others can benefit from.
New challenge for this Summit: ‘digital playground’ sessions. Here I offered three 10-minute sessions on stop motion animation with Google Slides. Just chairs in a group, laptops out, me using my big voice to cut through the noise in the gym. Wow. Let’s just say I gave three crash courses back to back. Whew!
Until next time, Ontario Summit. Thanks for the learning!
PS (1) – the Google Waterloo headquarters tour prior to the event was SO eye-opening . That company really practices what it preaches and brings the idea of flexible seating to a whole new level.
PS (2) – Shout out to my TVDSB colleagues. We represented!
PS (3) – The Google Innovators at the event were so open, approachable, and provided great coaching. Come on #LAX18!