Another pleasant Saturday was spent surrounded by enthusiastic teachers at EdCamp Philly 2013. This is my reflection of ideas the resources I want to explore later.
Professional Development Smackdown
This was a very passionate exchange of ideas between teachers and administrators. “Move from hours based accountability to outcome based,” possibility my favorite quote from @thomascmurray
from the day – unless it was something about the mouse running wild during the session. “It is NOT about the hours, but about the learning.” Our classrooms should follow this too #edcampphilly. Some inspirations to improve the effectiveness of professional development. Have a menu of tools that teachers can choose to learn – figure out the individualized part on that day. Not about planning detailed sessions, but helping people with what they want and where they are. At the end of the day, have groups of teachers hold an Idea Smackdown – pledge what you are really going to take away from the PD. Be held accountable by colleagues. Another sentiment shared was the existence of experts in districts.
Break down the walls between districts, share resources and expertise.
BYOT Resources – with an emphasis on coding and app development.
@mpowers3 shared a Symbaloo web mix with coding resources. One of the links is Hopscotch
, which was also shared and demonstrated during the Smack down. I’ve seen this mentioned on Twitter and now I have seen a simple version in action.
Once again I heard about http://appinventor.mit.edu/, which uses object and drag drop programming language. The disadvantage is that it only works on Android, the vast majority of my students have iOS devices. There is an emulator, so you do not need an Android to see your app in action. The advantage is the program has different levels for students and it promotes creation. This year Verizon hosted an App challenge for secondary students to storyboard their dream app; the MIT group helped the school groups create the app they story boarded. App Inventor needs to be downloaded on to a computer – the other requirement is a Google email address (yes the school Google Apps logins work). Working to have in the cloud with HTML5 so might be able to use from a tablet in the near future.
A complete change of pace for club, but content that would be beneficial to also share with parents. During the Creating a Culture of Innovation session, they talked about a digital branding course offered in high school. I know that middle school students are probably too young to understand the long term implications, but their parents might. It would be interesting to show and talk about Search Engine Optimization and how to make sure that Google reflects the story they want.
Social Studies Inspiration
offers the Weekend Rap which is the weekly summary of current events in rap form. It includes lyrics with links to each of the stories. Even more exciting, during the Raffle I won a subscription for a year. Very excited! There is an example video that aligns perfectly with the 6th Grade curriculum for social studies: Hay Nativos. It is educational and entertaining. The pop up summaries of the key topics from the lyrics are written in student friendly language.
GeoGuesser – gamified Google Streetview game. Shows a random picture and you click on the map to guess where it is. I’ve played it and see its addicting potential. When in doubt guess Australia, there were a disproportionate number of pictures from there.
shared the ways he is providing students ways to examine current events in comparison to historical trends. This is to increase student engagement and also to address Common Core expectations (technology is intertwined, non fiction writing/authentic writing, problem solving type problems). To introduce projects, write a formal looking letter that includes references current events and real people. Make the students act as a strategic planning committee. Give them an advantage to research by creating a Symbaloo web mix with trusted/helpful resources, especially in regards to high profile current events, there is information overload online. What are examples we’ve seen in class that is being repeated through current events. That is why you are learning.
Another idea shared: Have the students create visuals to decorate the room about the topics we are studying, but only use limited words. Leave the visuals up during the test. Social studies is not about memorizing isolated events, but being able to apply the knowledge. The assessments should not have google-able answers or be so easy that a simple visual would give all the answers to.
Resources to Explore
– interactive eReader with texts from public domain. Add links, questions, etc. I really can’t explain the potential, just sign up for an invite and check it out yourself. Thank you @KtBkr4 for sharing during the Smackdown, I’ve already passed this on to some of my English colleagues.
Artsonia – The website is described as the world’s largest kids art museum. It provides a place for art teachers to post students work. There are other advantages which are explained on the teacher page. It looks simple enough for non-techie teachers to buy into (without having to really buy anything since it is free). There is an app, which always helps websites reach a larger audience.
– poverty simulator online that walks someone through the decisions they would have to make if they were living in poverty.
Zacbrowser.com – browser that sets more relaxing environment for autistic student developed by family members of someone with autism.
Algodoo – draw building blocks and manipulate them. Free app for iPad or Mac. It demonstrates physics principles. This is another thing you just need to check out to understand.
– connect through google drive, respond with voice comments on the document.
– add extra things to YouTube videos. They will pop up on the side at specific times during the video. This is the foundation of HapYak which I have enjoyed using in the past for class writing assignments.
– call to action, be a collective force to highlight what is awesome in the classroom. Check out the link that says Quest.
One of the major reasons I was excited to have a Mac was to play with iBooks Author. At EdCamp Philly I also heard some great ideas for iTunes U and non-traditional ways to create or use an iBook.
- First interesting fact I did not realize, you can save an Explain Everything and open it in iBooks.
- iBooks created with iBooks Author can have Keynotes built in.
- Unpublished iBooks make great lesson planning books because all the resources can be built in a launched through the iPad if you are mirroring the images for students.
There are a bunch of iTunes U resources that I can explore before I decide how to proceed with creating and publishing my own content – or even – encouraging colleagues to do the same.
There was good discussion about setting up the course manager. As an individual, you can create courses with an iTunes user name. There are limits for how many people and how you can share the content created. You have to use a Mac (or PC with Safari browser) to create the courses. Once it is created it will be pushed out to iOS device. If courses include iBooks – they get notified when it is updated. Users get notifications any time something is changed the course which is a huge benefit. If you want public, published courses, you can’t be in as an individual, but you can share a code/link to give people access. A fully public course needs to be associated with a institution. More advice: Have a few rounds of peer review before courses are published on iTunesU. This is not a place to just dump content. The review process makes you focus on the end goals and the learning of the students. You have to know what you want the students to know/do at the end before you can begin.
And so ends my rambling narrative of my EdCamp Philly experience. I have so much to think about and so much to play with the little time that is left this school year. In case you registered and missed it or have never registered for an EdCamp, you should make an attempt to get to one. Not every single moment of the conference is life altering, but it still provides a great opportunity for learning and reflecting.