Tuesday, June 9, 2015

iPossibilities 2015

Keynote speaker, Ginger Lewman, started off the day at Center Grove’s iPossibilities conference. Ginger is passionate about student learning, specifically project-based learning. Her motto as a teacher is: “I’m a resource not THE source.” Ginger shared a personal story with the crowd highlighting the point that our students are not always what they appear. Often our students, and admittedly we as educators, are stuck somewhere between “strategic compliance” and “ritual compliance.” Ginger then proclaimed the most tweeted statement of the morning: “There is a difference between being a student and being a learner” (Phil Schlecty). Ginger feels strongly that project-based learning supports student learning unlike traditional teaching that often encourages students to play the game. The idea behind PBL is that you start with an intriguing question or challenge that leaves students NEEDING to know the answer; as a result, they learn through discovery and practice real-life skills along the way (eg: writing professional emails, interviewing, making phone calls to businesses, etc). Thankfully Ginger shared her PBL resources during her Q&A session.

Along with sharing her passion for PBL, Ginger also shared her thoughts on Today’s Modern Learning Environment. Conference attendees got an overview of 6 movements that support a modern learning environment: Open Education Resources, Flipped Classrooms, Genius Hour, Project-based Learning, The Maker Movement, and Game-Based Learning.

One question that Ginger posed that left me thinking was: “Is your district ‘school global’ or ‘snow global’?” (concept from Kevin Honeycutt) The point being, how do we make sure we don’t get stuck in the snow globe rut simply because our school is performing well? There is always room for improvement and areas where we as educators, buildings, and districts can grow.

#INeLearn Coach community member Maria Sellers (@feltnerm), along with South Vermillion teachers Brandee Wood (4th grade) and Kim Parsons (special ed teacher) led a packed session titled "Fifteen Free and Fabulous Tools for Differentiation." They shared a wide variety of tools that can be used with all students. Have you heard of Seesaw? Create a digital portfolio for your students, have them add text and recordings, and share that information with parents. Are you doing formative assessments with your students? Do you want to do digital assessment, but your students don’t have devices? You should try Plickers. Your students will get a cool graphic card to use to answer your questions then you use your mobile device to check for understanding.

Scott County School District 2 elementary teachers Tiffany Copple (@MrsCoppleSES) and Brittany Banister (@KindergartenVF) shared lots of great resources in their session, "iLiteracy: 2TechieTeachers’ Guide to Literacy in the iPad Classroom." Tiffany and Brittany are using iPads in their classrooms with their students and shared a lot of great ideas as to how to integrate technology to allow their students to create. The focus of this session was on literacy and they discussed the areas of phonics, comprehension, fluency, and informational text. If you’re working on sight words, try ChatterPix. Do a phoneme sort with PicCollage. Have your students create digital interactive notebooks with Book Creator or My Story. If you’re looking for free apps, Tiffany and Brittany suggest using the apps appsfire and appsgonefree to locate free and discounted apps. Be sure to follow the 2TechieTeachers blog.

Cyndy Harrison was in attendance sharing her love of NBC Learn with Indiana educators. Indiana has a partnership with NBC Learn which serves as a wonderful resource to all K-12 teachers providing videos and other educational resources listed by topic and Indiana standard.

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