Each year, the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat never disappoints. It’s filled with amazing, thoughtful, forward-thinking educators who debate, discuss and explore ways in which they can improve and enhance the learning experiences for their students. This year, our Keynote was Don Buckley. His topic was “Design and Maker Thinking.” Don is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tools at Schools. The focus of his presentation was to investigate the teaching and learning of design and maker thinking in schools. We thoroughly enjoyed his animated and engaging presentation and I, personally, loved his break-out session where we were challenged to design a wearable technology that would change the student learning experience as we know it.
Here are my tweets from my time at the retreat. (I needed to leave early due to commitments back at school.)
@donbuckley thank you for inspiring us! Wish you were still here!!!
Here is a link to our “App Smackdown.” Feel free to add your favorite tool/app to it!
This tweet by Rush Hambleton is, by far, one of the most powerful things about this retreat, and one of the many reasons it’s not to be missed each year. Thanks for another awesome, awesome learning experience!
Overheard at #caisct Tech conf: P1"I'm coming to your workshop in 10 mins." P2 "Great! Maybe u can teach me something" #endofsageonstage
This year’s pi day celebration was awesome! Students really enjoyed celebrating, especially since it was the last day of school before Spring break. We started our class watching this video, talked a little bit about the history of pi, and then we had the “pi recitation” contest. (see video below) This year, I was astounded at how many students got “into it!” The winner, a 6th grader, recited pi to the 82nd place! The 2nd place student made it to the 61st place and the 3rd place student recited to the 42nd place. Pretty amazing!! We then went on this scavenger hunt. When students returned to class, we calculated the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of each of the circles they measured and most got “a little more than 3!” We ended with eating PIE for dessert. We had a blast!
Justine Fellows (Greens Farms Academy) and I presented at the Speed Innovating Session at NAIS (Disney World!). The session is set up much like “Speed Dating.” Attendees pre-register for three topics they want to learn more about and presenters have 15 minutes to share their topic. When the 15 minutes is up, participants move to their next topic of choice. There’s a large, (very intimidating) stop watch on the screen at the front to keep everyone on schedule.
We started with a 3 minute description of augmented reality and then let our participants “play” for 5-7 minutes. We had iPads (yes, we lugged them from CT), headphones, and our trigger images all ready to go. We spent the next 5 minutes sharing ideas we had for using Augmented Reality to promote our school’s message, and we ended with a “share” of ideas that participants offered. It’s high energy, a lot of fun, and attendees learn just enough to figure out whether they want to learn more about the topic. They now have a contact person at another school to reach out to so they can. We had a blast!
There is nothing like the expression on a students face when they solve a problem or achieve a goal they have been striving for. This is one of the many reasons I was very excited and proud that Hamden Hall participated in Computer Science Education Week’s Hour of Code!
I presented this video
at a Technology Committee meeting earlier in the fall and we unanimously decided that participating in the Hour of Code would be an exciting experience to offer our students. After digging a little deeper and exploring the wide range of coding apps and programming options out there, we were eager to begin to organize the event across all three divisions. (I need to be honest– we were also a bit overwhelmed). Thankfully, our librarians took the bull by the horns. We scheduled a follow- up meeting, and decided that weekly library class would be the best place for our Lower School students to have a coding experience. Martha Djang, our Lower School Librarian, researched many options and decided to focus on two apps– Kodable and Cargo-Bot . Kathy McNeiece, our Head Librarian, worked on the plan for our Middle and Upper Schools. The librarians worked with the tech department to organize optional times (during lunch and study hall) in the library for students to code with Light Bot and Scratch. We got the kids excited to sign up by showing a video at assembly and by pushing out messages through OnCampus and via email. Some classroom teachers even jumped in to give it a try. There was definitely a buzz around campus and it caught on even more as the week unfolded!
I took the opportunity to utilize two days of my pre-algebra class to explore Hopscotch. We used our school set of iPads and followed along with this video:
Having had experience flipping the classroom, I know that students usually stop watching after about 7 or 8 minutes. I have to admit, I was a little concerned that this was 25 minutes. I went for it anyway… and sure enough, the kids were completely engaged and didn’t want to leave when class was over. Many students who had their own iPads downloaded the hopscotch app and completed the project that we were slated to work on the following day without being asked! I thankfully had some of these additional projects to challenge those students. We had a blast!
Computer science develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.
Anyone with personal experience in coding at any level can completely agree with this. And can also agree with the indescribable feeling you get when your program finally works.
So, even though the official week is over, there’s plenty of projects and ready-made lessons waiting for you. I encourage you– give coding a try — whatever discipline or grade you teach! Why would you not want to provide an authentic learning experience where students are excited, creative and collaborative?
Note: If you don’t have technology readily available in your classroom, you could even try some “unplugged” options listed on this page.
Here’s a photo gallery from our Hour of Code week!
Each year, the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat is the “prize” and we keep our eye on it the whole year. It’s a time to share the great things that are happening, to learn from others, and to dive into some new technologies that can enhance teaching and learning at our schools. Cheryl Costello summed up the feeling with this tweet:
After hearing that our longstanding venue, Trinity Conference Center in Cornwall, CT, was closing, we got a little down. It was a space we were familiar with; it was charted “territory”. Guest House in Chester, CT was recommended as a replacement, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint. This new venue forced us to rethink (and improve) the conference on the whole, and, because the place could accommodate more guests , new and different people were able to attend. We loved the spaces for break out sessions and the common areas were very flexible, allowing for the unconference model to work even better!
Dirk DeLo from Avenues: World School was our keynote. In his presentation, “Classroom in the Cloud”, he shared his technology journey, and Avenues’ journey, and offered inspiring words about moving our schools forward. Here are some quotes that have stuck with me:
“Best way to predict your future is to invent it”
“It’s no longer about IT it’s about TI (technology integration).”
On digital content creation …. “Teachers need to make their own”playlists” using tools to create their own digital resources. “Teachers should be curators of content”.
“iPad is the new Trapper Keeper”
Digital Diet. Choose a few tools. Classroom in the cloud: Stick w/ core tools. Evernote, iTunes U, Subtext, GDocs, Dropbox, Showbie
You have the tech tools, how do you get the teachers to accept this ‘invasive species’?
“You have to get the teachers to take the bait”
“Technology should not drive the curriculum, curriculum should drive technology . IT needs to “retool”
Challenge Based Learning… not about technology. Tech is the tool. What is the big idea? Essential Questions?
The goal of tech integration is REDEFINITION: Tech for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable!
Following Dirk, we had an “App Smackdown”, where each person attending shared their favorite website or app. Here is this year’s list of recommendations from colleagues at CAIS schools. The second tab in the spreadsheet are twitter handles from other CAIS educators. The third tab includes resources from a session called “Bleeding Edge: Where do you hear about the next big thing? Come and share your favorite reliable sources.”
Our sessions for the remainder of the unconference were impressive! Check out the board!
I led a few sessions, including:
Twitter Maniacs (w/ fellow twitter addicts Sharon Plante and Cheryl Costello)“If you aren’t on Twitter you should be! Come talk about how being a Twitter Maniac will help you be a Connected Educator.” The session was PACKED and we all have many new connections to continue our learning 24/7! We had a blast!
and How to Poke the Sleeping Dragon: Implementing Change & Tips to Manage from the Middle (w/ Justine Fellows) A great discussion implementing change in our schools.
Instead of a “normal” social hour, we really geeked out. Some were trying to program a robot and another group was learning how to “augment reality” with an iPad app called “Aurasma”. Awesome to think of the many ways this can be used at our schools. COOL STUFF! In keeping with our tradition, some of our colleagues provided musical accompaniment.
We also played techie charades/ pictionary, once again.
Here is the archive of tweets from the conference.
Thanks to everyone who attended, shared, inspired, collaborated, and learned with me these two amazing days. It’s what true professional development is all about!
For the third year in a row, my Algebra 1 class researched mathematicians and created a Fake Facebook wall for him/ her. (See projects from 2011 and 2012 here and here.) Each year, I reassess the project and make some changes and improvements. This year, given the number of snow days we had, I decided that introducing Diigo would be too much. I still wanted students to have a place to organize their research, and I wanted to be able to monitor it and give feedback. So, I created a googledoc Planning Sheet for their research, instead.
Here is the rubric for this year’s version of the project.
Here is a link to the planning sheet, which included the justification of all of their photos, wall posts, friends, etc. Turns out, this was even better than Diigo. I was able to see their progress very easily using the history of the document, and I was able to have an online dialog with them about their research using “comments”. I know Diigo could have done some of this, but the kids hit the ground running with a tool they were already familiar with.
Since the online fake Facebook sites were so unstable last year, I used this JFK template I found online and taught students how to edit this to reflect their own mathematician. Even though the updated Facebook interface is different, students still were able to make this template work.
We spent a few days working through the research. Students still needed to be reminded that they would not be able to find a list of friends of their mathematicians. (See I Can’t Find Blaise Pascal’s Friends) After some one-on-one discussions as I circulated the class, students were able to figure out friends, photos, wall posts and comments for their page. They seemed to have a blast with it.
Here is a link to the peer assessment. This worked really well for us and students were able to make some connections between the mathematicians that were contemporaries of each other. That was cool!