'Bring IT, Together' Conference Debrief - Part 2

Part 1 of my conference debrief can be found in my previous post:
http://aszerminska.blogspot.ca/2014/11/bring-it-together-conference-debrief.html

This post is a summary of my take-aways from conference sessions I attended. They're here for me more than anything, but I would like to invite you to browse - you might find something interesting to you! If you want more information about any of these presentations I'll do my best to help you find it. I have included Twitter handels for presenters if I have them.

STEM Lesson: How to extract DNA from a banana
Martha (@marthajez) and Drew Jez from Fair Chance Learning. Loved this session; as a science teacher I love the idea of recording observations using video and photo documentation as well as in writing. The USB microscope for class viewing was neat. We Skyped with a scientist to discuss our findings and ask questions (VROC program). Partners in Research, in addition to VROC, offers other exciting opportunities including STEM summer camp.

The Flipped Classroom - Rethinking the Math Classroom
Excellent talk to teacher Adam Agar about the flipped teacher model used by his school's math department (http://mdhsmath.pbworks.com/w/page/81405554/FrontPage). As a teacher who has done some flipping I appreciated that he focused on the important part: what happens IN the classroom after students have watched video lessons at home. He discussed grouping students on like tasks, seating arrangements for small-group instruction, and the neat ability they have to offer mixed 10D/12U math classes. Think about that...10D and 12U together? Very neat. Key ideas to take away: it's OK to have videos from multiple teachers (different students learn differently), exit tickets and quizzes are key to ensuring students are progressing, students write tests when they're ready, and there is a focus on individualized support. Equity issues addressed with DVD or USB. Adam reports greater student ownership of learning and understanding.

Quick to Prototype: Integrating and Iterating Ideas
Unexpected talk about going gradeless in secondary English classrooms. The teachers (Scott Kemp - @kempscott and Anne Doelman - @adoelman) published midterm and final grades only. Use of 'Body of Evidence Chart' and 'Reading Log' to track progress. The take home messages were simple but powerful: systems resist ideas and we need to accept that; the focus shouldn't be success or we'll never get there; don't use leeches to treat the flu (a.k.a. the old way likely isn't the only/best way; for 'going gradeless' to be a success, relationships with students and parents are key.

Junior Students Virtually Paperless
Paperless in a grade 6 classroom. Josh Ellis (@Joshuaellis34) uses Edmodo as his LMS. Students can BYOD but there is a one-strike rule (misuse = no more device at school) that he has never had to use. One neat idea was that if students used a web-based assessment or learning tool (eg. Gizmos) they can upload a screenshot to the LMS when they're finished to keep the grading all in one place. Josh has students create how-to tools or sets down challenges (like the one he gave us - to upload a selfie to the LMS ASAP) to help students learn new tech tools.

Capturing Student Learning in the Secondary Classroom
Kendra Spira (@KendraSpira) shared her Science adventures. Students made an instructional video on how to tie your shoes before making one to explain protein synthesis; using an everyday task as a starting point helped students learn the tech and identified need for improvement. She showed a neat 'recreate the picture' assignment where students in Grade 10 Optics needed to recreate an image using curved mirrors and explain how they did it/how the optics work. Kendra's students have blogged about Science in the news and she has seen really meaningful contributions from introvert students. Student inquiry on genetics provoked lots of thought and interesting products such as the 'Enviro Pig Song' about GM pigs.

Global Teenager Project
Students connect with a community of learners from all over the world in a learning circle. The themes have wonderful connections to many different subject areas and great way to 'go global' with your class. Students shared products and feedback with each other throughout the project. Teacher Laura Thompson described her success with a difficult group of intermediate students; great engagement and investment in this project because it was authentic.

Motivate, Engage and Learn - Using Thinglink, Padlet and Blogs
Great presentation from a principal (Jay Sugunan - @JaySugunan) and two teachers (Gurmeet Sandhu - @gurmeet3601 and Jenny Parr - @MsJParr) about using digital tools to engage students. Thinglink example about First Nations people and their traditions; picture linked to information about many aspects of culture. The use of padlet as a research collaboration tool (collaborate to collect ideas and information on one topic) or to accomplish a goal (eg. create a timeline of the history of flight) was neat. Google forms were being used with Grade 3 to collect feedback and ideas, and teachers are introducing multiple choice to get students familiar with this type of test question.

Providing Dynamic Feedback Online
Great tips from Paul Hatala (@phatala) to spruce up rubrics in D2L by adding videos, photos, exemplars, built-in feedback, personalization, etc. He showed us how to build up competencies and learning objectives so that we can assess most recent, most consistent. The power of ePortfolio was discussed: tied to student, not teacher; can be shared for feedback or flipped into a presentation at the end of a learning cycle. I liked the demo of iDoceo app ($8) for collecting anecdotal observations.

Storytelling with the Moving Image
Why video? Gives voice to ideas and creativity, great for cross-curricular projects, great for community engagement. Certainly most of the work involved in producing a film is in the planning: storyboards; plan shots; practice; shoot; edit. Ernest Agbuya shared his students' TIFF award-winning short film. Daniella Marchese (email: learning~at~tiff.net) shared some TIFF learning resources. Teachers are encouraged to hold their own film festivals to share students work. Filmic Pro and Videon were suggested as apps as alternatives/upgrades to iMovie.

Genius Bar: Leveraging Student Expertise to Build a Tech Support System
Great presentation describing how a club of about 12 junior students was formed to provide tech help to the teaching staff. Students has to submit resumes and show evidence of tech problem-solving in a group interview. Grade 3 students were brought on as apprentices. Document to help with planning a Genius Bar at your school: http://www.genyes.org/files/staticcontent/genius_bar.pdf . What a great way to give your students important responsibilities while improving availability of tech support in the school.

Breaking down walls: cross-divisional collaboratoin
Grade 10 Applied Civics/Careers/English class (Andrew Bieronski - @AndrewBieronski) paired up with Grade 4 Extended French class (Alison Bullock - @aliringbull). Students in Grade 4 class were challenged to create an ancient site or structure to be part of a museum exhibit. They had to provide QR code audio guides to their product. Grade 10 students created planning packages to guide their Grade 4 team regarding content, timelines, and success criteria. Grade 4's blogged and Grade 10's responded. Google Hangouts used to allow the students to 'check-in' virtually. In the end, the Grade 10 students visited the museum exhibit. The engagement and ownership was outstanding for students in both classes.

Whew! Now that I have made some room in my brain I can get ready for STAO.

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