After filling out the form multiple times earlier this year to bring the Google Expeditions Pilot Project to our school and getting multiple responses that they weren’t coming to Vermont, that finally changed. We were honored to have the opportunity to engage our students with Expeditions at the end of April.
Throughout the course of that day, 15 of our educators and their students traveled to the Himalayas, the Galapagos Islands, National Parks, Monuments, under the sea to coral reefs, and explored careers in STEM to name a few.
Teachers were happy to guide students on these expeditions that so closely connected with and supported the learning that was already happening in the classroom. Since then, I’ve heard both students and teachers referring to it, taking it further, and repeatedly stopping to tell me that it was a valuable day.
One Humanities teacher, Lauren Wesnak, works with 7th and 8th graders, had approached me even before this came to be a reality (yes, that’s a pun) about obtaining some cardboard viewers for another virtual reality (VR) project. We ran it by our principals and got the nod to move forward. We purchased eight Cardboard viewers and when they arrived, I recruited some students to help assemble them. They told me that this was the best thing we’ve ever done in our school.
Here’s a quote from Lauren about this experience:
As each student put the Google Cardboard to their face and the video began, you could see a smile stretch across each student’s face! This happened with every single student. Students were also saying “WOAH!” or “NO WAY!” while watching. There were also a few moments when students actually waved back to scuba divers they saw or reached out to touch the elephant or giraffe that was in the video. These reactions alone made the experience not only worth it, but alerted me to how powerful of a teaching tool Google Cardboard really, truly is. To see students reacting with such true emotion to a learning experience is something you hope to have happen in every class, but unfortunately due to time restraints or curriculum needs this can’t always happen. Google Cardboard is allowing you to create these emotionally charged and connected learning experiences EVEN IF you have limited time. Today we used Discovery Channel VR to view a video of endangered species in their habitats in order for us to gain a greater understanding of their environment and their life. This is in direct connection to our Endangered Places Project which is our final project for our Global Geography Unit.
I observed the students as they saw elephants up close and saw them physically jump back when it seemed like they were too close!
Lauren gave her students this prompt: How did using a VR experience change or enhance the way you feel about the importance of protecting endangered environments and animals?
Here are some of their responses:
It was cool cause I could see what things looked like close up. If you have only ever seen pictures then this really helps your understanding process of how they act in their natural environment.
Using the VR headset you really realize how amazing and how special these animals are which you can’t experience anywhere else besides actually going there. It gave me a new perspective on these animals.
It just made me think like wow, now I know what it’s like to have these In the same environment as these endangered species. I notice how the Rhinos tusk was cut off. These animals were so beautiful now I really want to help protecting them.
Whilst I was watching VR I realized what these environments really are like. How bare they can look and how the animals have to survive. Its really cool showing all these different animals and how they interact with people who aren’t harming them. They all act peaceful and kind towards the human.
Next steps… we hope to make our own 360 videos to view using the Cardboard viewers!
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As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have the wonderful opportunity to work with small groups of third and fourth graders on a rotating basis throughout the year. We focus on various topics under the realm of digital citizenship. We meet once a week for 6 weeks.
During the first 4 weeks, we learn about the topics of:
- Keeping Private Information Private
- Strong Passwords
- Copyright and Giving Credit
- Cyberbullying and the Power of Words
I use a variety of materials with students, the bulk of which from Common Sense Media. The final two weeks are devoted to creating a product to help others learn and get some tips about these topics. Earlier this year, groups used BookCreator and HaikuDeck on iPads to create a product.
Most recently, we use AdobeVoice to share our stories about Digital Citizenship. Each student made their own story, and then I used WeVideo to string them all together into one video for each group. The stories have become more powerful and serious as the year progressed.
Here’s one example.
I welcome your thoughts and feedback, as always.
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Posted in collaboration, integration, learning, professional development, relationships, sharing, teaching, wsdvt, tagged coaching, Educators, Learning, relationships, techintegration on February 1, 2016|
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I’ve come across two things recently that caused me to pause and reflect. One was a post on Edutopia’s site, 8 Skills to Look for in a Director of Technology by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (@wolpertsclass) and the other was the graphic seen below. That one is based on work by Lee Araoz (@LeeAraoz) and illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) using Sketchnote.
While my official title is not that of director or coach, I connect with many of the attributes described in both examples. I know that educators in my school, fully immersed in the day-to-day of classroom teaching, may wonder what I do all day. When I was a classroom teacher, I certainly pondered that of my predecessor. And believe me, no one works harder than a classroom teacher.
I believe that I subtly demonstrate the qualities listed in the graphic as well as in the Edutopia post. I try to respect teachers and how busy they are, while also providing vision, support, encouragement, and the necessary knowledge to keep us moving forward. However, I also learn every day from my colleagues and they keep me grounded in the realities of classroom work, student lives, and the daily challenges they face.
As we often say, it’s all about relationships. It’s a team effort and we’re winning the game. I’m extremely thankful to work in this district and with this amazing group of professionals.
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Posted in Chromebooks, classroom, collaboration, integration, learning, professional development, sharing, teaching, wsdvt, tagged Collaboration, Educators, GAFE, Google, Learning, Professional development, Technology, Technology integration on January 27, 2016|
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I have the amazing opportunity to facilitate a meeting 4-5 times a year with our PreK-2 faculty. I thought I’d share what we did yesterday. Some of this stemmed from an observation in both of our schools that sometimes teachers ask students to do tasks that they themselves can’t do or haven’t tried. Plus, we’ll be adding Chromebooks to the mix at our PreK-2 building next year and it was time to highlight a few things that our youngest students might do with Google Apps. It resembled one of those “9 Things Teachers Should Be Able to do with GAFE” posts that I’ve seen, but I designed this one myself.
Teachers were asked to join a Google Classroom for the meeting, mostly as a way to distribute the doc to them, but also to model using Classroom. We talked later about how it helps to organize things in Drive; something that the teachers might find useful in the future.
Once they joined the Classroom, they each got a copy of a doc with directions and a Tic Tac Toe board. Here’s a link to a copy of the doc. The board looked like this:
As you can see on the doc, teachers were asked to make Tic Tac Toe by completing at least 3 of the tasks. They needed to change the background color of the cell to indicate which tasks were completed. Underlined elements above took them to other links, sheets, drawings, etc that were collaborative. (not linked on the copy provided here)
There was a lot of energy in the room (we were in a computer lab) and a quick visual assessment showed everyone on task. There were not doing other work or things of a personal nature which is often the case at faculty meetings. Yay!
Near the end of our time together, we not only shared, but also completed surveys for one another that had been created, and provided the process for how things were accomplished. With Google Apps, there’s often more than one way to do things.
Finally, the group helped me by playing guinea pig while we tried out a new tool I had read about earlier in the week from Richard Byrne via Practical Ed Tech. It’s called dotstorming. Not only did teachers share thoughts on how they might move forward with ideas generated during our time together, but they also ‘voted’ on the ones they felt they’d actually try themselves. It was a great exit card. Here’s a link to the final board that was completed, ranked by votes.
All in all, we packed in a lot, but it was a very positive gathering, generated practical ideas that could be put into motion right away, and provided respite from work on report cards.
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Posted in collaboration, connected, learning, professional development, sharing, twitter, tagged Collaboration, connected, Learning, PLN, Sharing, Twitter on December 3, 2015|
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I’ve written quite a few posts that are about the power or usefulness of Twitter. Recently, I’ve noticed discussion on Twitter and in other forums about Twitter’s future. That has caused me to stop, pause, and reflect.
As an educator, I can’t think of a more perfect tool.
I could share the many ways our teachers utilize Twitter as professionals and/or with their students. I could share how they’ve connected to experts, authors, other classes, and joined collaborative projects. I could share so many more things. But let’s keep this simple. I think Twitter provides us with something that other tools and sites do not – a quick way to share with, connect with, and access the world.
I saw this post yesterday, and hope that others will consider how we can use Twitter for GOOD. Let’s harness the power of this great tool, help one another, and move forward positively.
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This prompt makes the assumption that we are afraid of something. I know that as an introvert, I was more fearful getting up in front of a group of adults than I was with students. But with the change in my role 5 years ago, that fear had to fade away. I’d like to say I got over it, but do still find myself taking a deep breath and diving in before addressing a group of adults!
Fear masks deeper issues. What am I afraid of? Taking risks? Working with others? Trying new things? Does it prevent me from doing these things? No- it can’t or I wouldn’t be productive, I wouldn’t learn, I wouldn’t grow. But perhaps there are those for whom this is an issue. Are some educators inhibited from moving forward because of underlying fears? Do they not want to be seen making mistakes? Not knowing something? Are they not taking steps toward innovation because they feel they don’t have the support?
Aren’t these the same things we work on with our students? We want to support them, encourage them to learn from mistakes, take risks.
We all have fears – whether adult or child. It’s how we handle the fears and work through them that lets our true colors shine.
I’ll close (my 30th post in 30 days!) by sharing a post written by George Couros recently about this very topic, “What Our Fear Actually Inhibits”. I found this very powerful.
Thanks for reading my blog over this past month. I intend to keep it going! And thanks to the folks at Teach Thought and Beth Leidolf for the inspiration!
Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by hang_in_there: http://flickr.com/photos/59632563@N04/8443032580
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Post 22 on the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging Challenge: What does your PLN look like? What does it do for you teaching?
I have written numerous times about my PLN and the value and importance of it. Feel free to click on the tag list to the right and view some of my other posts about PLNs.
As others have written, I also connect with the PLC (Personal Learning Community) in my school, district, and state. I learn a lot from my local colleagues and relish their contributions to my learning.
I also connect with my PLN – my Personal Learning Network. These are the folks I might know or might not know, but we all share something in common. We want to learn, to grow, to connect, and to share. Sometimes I get the opportunity to meet those in my PLN at conferences, like the ISTE conference at the end of June. It’s a true joy to finally greet them face-to-face. But most of the time, I benefit from a global group online. I use Twitter and Google+ the most, though I know others use tools like Pinterest and LinkedIn.
You have to find what works for you. You have to decide that this is something you want to commit to and make the time. The more you put yourself out there, the more you get in return. Twitter has become a more refined Google search for me -helping me get the results I need from the people who count the most. It’s hard at first, but building relationships and trust matter in the same way they do face-to-face. My networks help me learn, but they also help me stay current. I connect with others who share the same passions, and I also follow others who may have a different mindset- in order to stretch my thinking and see things from varied perspectives.
As a connected educator, the ideas, resources, conversations, and comments I receive directly benefits my work with other educators in my PLC as well as my work with students.
The lessons I’ve learned have impacted my work. I am a connected educator. I tweet, I share, I blog (!). I attend edCamps when possible, conferences, and workshops. I have taught classes to educators in my district about building our PLNs. I’ve seen the return on my investment and feel that the many other educators on Twitter and other networks have as well. Now to help those who are not yet connected, connect. October is Connected Educator’s Month! What a great time to expand and grow!
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