Friday, June 13, 2014

WISE 2014

Today was the second day of the fantastic Wabash Innovative Summit for Education, or WISE for short. Hosted just north of beautiful Wabash, IN, WISE is a combined effort by Manchester Community Schools, MSD Wabash County Schools, and Wabash City Schools. This collaboration resulted in two great days of learning, anchored by keynotes Eric Shenninger and George Couros.

Even those of us who have heard Couros speak before were moved again by the perspective he brings on student empowerment. He meets, head-on, the reality that there are horrible and atrocious things shared on the Internet and through Twitter, but that there are good things too. He asked the audience, "How many of you use the Internet? And how many of you are horrible people?" Couros shared so many great examples of what we can help our students learn by connecting with the good. Our students need direction. They need us to engage with them in the digital realm, and they need us to model digital learning for them.

In the first session, Candice joined Sara O'Sha to explore the amazing online database of reliable virtual resources in INSPIRE, provide by the Indiana State Library. There are so many great resources available here - don't be overwhelmed! Just start with the database icons at the bottom of the homepage and you won't be disappointed. Be sure to try "Kids Search" - a great way for elementary students to search for articles, images and more! For middle and high school students, don't miss Student Research Center. It is full of easily navigated sources including video and images. Personally, we loved the database “Biography in Context" for a diverse offering of resources on famous people.  

In a content area session, Jabin Burnworth and Sue Gnagy shared apps and resources that they use in science classes. One that showed fantastic results was Muscle System Pro III for Anatomy and Physiology. Burnworth said that by using this app to learn the muscles of the face instead of coloring the parts, his students went from an average of 74% on assessment to an average of 98%. He shared how his students created videos focused on various muscle groups, but just as importantly he showed participants how he manages to receive the videos from students. He uses Instashare to handle the large file sizes and pull in the videos quickly. Gnagy showed an interactive app from NOVA that is great for exploring elements and atomic structure. Gnagy and Burnworth also got good use from Notability for labeling diagrams. 

Next, participants packed a room for a student engagement session, led by Al Summers, an Instructional Coach for the Region 8 ESC, as well as a National Faculty Member of the Buck Institute for Education. He shared a video example of a project lesson and had participants analyze how much of the lesson allowed for student choice, like their roles and their path to achieve the objective. Summers also emphasized the importance of consulting with our students, "If we want them to have ownership, we have to ask them for feedback, and we have to value their feedback."
One of the best reasons to attend the Summer of eLearning is to meet and connect with outstanding educators around our state.  This was especially true when Candice had a chance to discuss digital age learning with Amanda and Ben Burman, two High School English teachers changing learning in their districts.  Visit their websites and connect with them through social media for many ways to get high school students engaged in the learning!

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