Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yorktown WeLearn 2.104

The Summer of eLearning took a very playful stop yesterday and today in Yorktown for the WeLearn conference. Complete with game-like avatars, this conference featured plenty of sessions that help teachers bring gaming into the classroom. Check out the hashtag #ycsWeLearn to see more WePeople avatars and meet some great #INeLearn tweeps.

Day one featured George Couros whose message was as passionate and playful as the "be more dog" video he shared during his keynote. Couros encouraged teachers to make their classrooms a place where they would enjoy being a student themselves. He also stressed how important it is that our policies communicate to students that we trust them.

Sharing their own learning, Yorktown Superintendent, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, YHS Principal Kelly Wittman, Tech Integration Specialist Holly Stachler, and 4th grade teacher Cathy Stagge shared about what it takes to plan and implement an online learning day.  They did an amazing job covering all the factors - from lesson construction to providing tech support for learning at home.   Reach out to these leaders if you are considering using a virtual option during this coming year.  Also, check out the archived Weather Woes webinar on the virtual option that Yorktown participating in with two other districts here. 

Minecraft was also a major feature of day two. Jeff Kuhn from Ohio University teamed up with Yorktown Staff Chris Van Pelt and Amy Heath to share with participants how they turned Minecraft into standards-based assignments for mathematics and literature. The experiences they shared were familiar to those who have integrated technology of all kinds - the early attempts were a chaotic outbreak of experimentation by students. However, moving past this initial phase, students were able work productively together in this virtual world without conflict. Building projects allowed them to experience some very complex collaboration dependent on planning, surveying and accounting.

Students stole the presentation in this session as they toured participants around the expansive exhibits they created, and described the learning they had to undertake to ground these projects in the content. In their words, "It didn't feel like work - I don't think we ever got bored doing this." Later students helped teachers get their start in Minecraft and survive their first night!

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