It’s been almost 24 hours since the closing session, and I am still amazed at all that I have learned. So, I think this reflection is going to focus on the technology that I witnessed this weekend.
A couple of months ago, a dear colleague of mine asked me to help her create, write, and present a training regarding the use of technology. Our purpose was to show what was available for teachers to use in their classroom. At first we talked and emailed back and forth some ideas. We had yet to formulate the big picture until Christie (my co-trainer) attended a similar training in another area — and so was born, “100 Tools in 100 Minutes (a.k.a. Tech-speed-dating).”
So, we each decided to write each of our ideas on post-it notes – just small ones, one tech tool per post-it – just to see if we had 50 ideas. From blogs to math sites, presentation sites to resources, we tallied, sorted, and evaluated all our ideas. (We had 108 tools.) As we divided the categories, we each had about 54 tools each – we each had to cut 4. Ultimately, as shared in a previous post, we used 1 of our tools as a “sneaked it in” idea and posted them all in a Symbaloo.
The bottom line is this – we thought that between my Web 1.0 skills (finding ideas for teachers and resources for teachers to use with and for students) and her massive Web 2.0 skills (using tools for students to publish and produce), we thought we had so much to share. Little did I know! (Duh!)
This weekend, through keynote speakers, “Technology Smackdown,” break-out/concurrent sessions, I now have 7 (SEVEN!!!!) pages of links to ideas, tools, sites, resources to use and share. I guess the point is this … as teachers we often get so overwhelmed, caught-up-in, consumed by our own little kingdom (our classroom), that we forget that there is a huge, massive, global market of resources available. #RSCON3 reminded me that technology – listening to and speaking with people via a virtual conference – just scratches the surface of what we as teachers should know about 21st Century learning.
I may not have the right names with these tools, but I am going to try to share a few of the best tools that I learned about this weekend:
1. In Dave Dodgson‘s course on Teaching ELT’s with NO Codes, I was able to collaboratively edit a piece of text with 3 other people from around the world. http://www.typewith.me/JYVFMloQ3E is the text we worked on. By each of choosing a specific color (and while in progress there is a location for “Insert Name”), we all were able to make the writing better. Depending on our strengths, we contributed in different ways. (This one hit number 1, I believe, because I experienced it, so I remember it more than the others I saw!)
2. I have recently discovered QR Codes (as you can see from the one on my website). I really found this through Twitter, but on Friday, there was a conference on these codes. I am not sure who the speaker was, but I did catch the final minutes (and cannot wait for the archive!) with a couple of links from Shamblesguru. The first one is photos on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/csmith/sets/72157627239815750/). When I scanned the QR code, WOW!, I discovered a gallery of ideas on using QR Codes in the classroom. (In an upcoming Technology training, Christie and I are using QR codes as a type of Anticipation Guide for our colleagues.) I specifically like the idea of a Treasure Hunt … “Get students using their mobile devices to move and learn.)
3. I have been a long-time (well in technology age 🙂 ) fan of David Warr. I found his blog after #RSCON2, and fell in love with his word pictures. As a fan of Wordle and Tagxedo, his images were simple yet profound. The odd thing was, I couldn’t put my finger on why they were so captivating. So when I was given the opportunity to moderate his session, I snatched it up! David allowed us to play with his program – The Language Garden. While listening to him teach us (and a master teacher is he!), he explained the color-coding system so that students know if they have used the right part of speech (if not it remains black [like ink] it’s not correct; when correct it changes to match the category – i.e., red for verbs, etc.) Can’t wait to play some more!
4. The Saturday night keynote with Dr. George Couros and Dr. Alex Couros, while humorous and entertaining, was also memorable. To be honest, we listened a lot, but the key to their presentation was the wonderful, extended metaphor. (Yes, I am an English teacher! 🙂 ) In their presentation, they compared excellent schools to family owned restaurants – they have a loyal following, somebody always knows your name, people always come back for more, excellent product and service … The list goes own. This theme resonated with me simply because my family is just like that (without the restaurant – although there are some that eat at regularly). One that I think of immediately, the manager/owner actually walks out, sits at our table and talks with us about life. He asks about the family and about life – never mentioning whether or not we’ve been missed or if we’re bringing new people in. For him, it’s not about the money or the business, it’s about relationships! (Can’t wait to download that podcast to list again … oh yeah, BTW, Dr. A. Couros is offering one of his classes for free to anyone who would like to register. Will post more as I find it! So much to learn!)
5. Finally – this is a long post already! – I must give the final reflection in technology to Jo Hart’s presentation about creating a PLE to help organize your PLN using iGoogle. Now, I must admit, I have an iGoogle account that I never used … and although I really want to do what she has done, I am not sure when I will have the time. I think this is one of those “if-I-learn-the-tool-it-will-save-time-in-the-future” things. 🙂 So, I am going to take time to re-listen to her presentation (combined with Denise Krebs’ presentation on mapping my PLN) to create a PLE (Professional Learning Environment). From #RSCON2, I established my PLN; with #RSCON3 … my PLE. Nice rhyme and rhythm, huh! 🙂
WOW! It still boggles the brain all that I have learned. Tomorrow, I really want to reflect on Lyn Hilt‘s presentation as a foundational piece to Differentiation in Professional Development. Can’t wait for that one! I’d love to hear your thoughts .. if you wish. 🙂