Monday, July 27, 2015

e3 Technology Conference

If you still haven't made it to one of the excellent Summer of eLearning opportunities, you only have a couple of days left! The final week of conferences kicked off today with Warsaw's e3 (Equip - Engage - Excel). Keynote Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd) started the learning by imploring attendees to get connected. He said, "There is a clear divide growing now in education between those who are connected, and those who are not." One of the opportunities available to connected educators is to make a virtual connection with other educators. Nesloney says that his class did between 40-60 Google Hangouts through the year to connect students to the world. He also described Mystery Skype sessions where classes across the globe connect and trade questions to try to discover where the other class lives. He encouraged schools to take control of their own brand on social media by "flooding the system" with all of the great news coming out of our classrooms. Nesloney shared powerful examples of how amazing our students can be when we allow them to engage their own innate creativity. He said, "My students' limitations were eliminated when I stopped creating the limits."

Session one featured Gina Courtois who shared how she uses Bee-Bots to teach programming to students in early elementary grades. Like she does with her students, Courtois put the cute little bee-shaped "floor robots" into the hands of attendees and allowed them to discover what would happen when they try the simple programming buttons on top. As kids direct the robot to follow various maps, they not only learn about programming and spatial relation, but they also refine their counting and measuring skills. To learn more about Bee-Bots, see them in action in this video, or check out this post from Edutopia. Can't purchase robots in your budget for this year? No problem. There's also a free app for iPad that works the same way.

Brandi Prather-Leming, former special education teacher and current assistant professor for University of Saint Francis' School of Education, assured her audience that “there is actually an app
for just about everything to make life easier for educators and more engaging for students.” Her presentation offered a tour of some of her favorites. For organizing yourself, try 30/30. Students also need help organizing and myHomework can do just that. Ed Puzzle lets you embed questions into videos and track student viewing and engagement with content. GoSoapBox provides real time insight into students’ learning. Math teachers found Virtual Manipulatives an easy, free way to provide hands-on learning in a myriad of ways. Check out Brandi’s presentation to build your toolbox.
After lunch, Val Weinstein and Dr. Chris Boyd presented the session "Apps for Secondary Education." These two enthusiastic teachers shared their very favorite apps like: Thinglink, Pic Collage, and Notability. They mentioned the trending concept of App Smashing, which involves using multiple apps to accomplish tasks or demonstrate knowledge. For student presentations, they like Haiku Deck, Socrative, Kahoot, and LearnZillion for creative alternatives to PowerPoint.

Annette Spear, technology coach at Pioneer Regional School Corporation, took participants step by
step through the expectations of the IDOE Virtual Option for Inclement Weather. Pioneer has used the Virtual Option as a make-up day and also on an actual snow day. A good point made by Spear is that Pioneer teachers and students use digital learning tools everyday, so the Virtual Option is something that fits the usual business of learning. Online platforms they use to ensure teachers and students can interact online include: Canvas, Moby Max, IXL, iStation, Google Apps for Education (work can be synced before students leave school). To ensure teachers are directly reachable during eLearning time Pioneer uses email, Remind, and messaging within their LMS, Canvas.
Stay tuned here and on #INeLearn. We'll be writing from Lafayette Jefferson tomorrow and Penn High School on Wednesday. Hope to see you there!

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