Friday, June 29, 2012

ISTE 2012

Earlier this week I had the amazing opportunity to participate for the first time in the ISTE conference. By participate, I mean attend, since I was not actually presenting. As a first time ISTE attendee (newbie) I was overwhelmed with choosing which ticketed workshops to attend and with filling my planner with non-ticketed sessions throughout the day. Luckily, I had my good friend, Jennifer, at my side to navigate through the mass techies. The very first workshop was a bit of a disappointment. However, that was not due to the material or the presenter, it was because I was a novice and had chosen a workshop that was geared towards technology system administers and not classroom teachers. From that point on I was pleasantly surprised to see that the workshops I had chosen where right up my alley. I learned a ton and gained way more resources then I will be able to use. I quickly realized that I need to pick a few key areas to dial in on and implement next year. Therefore, I  plan to implement QR codes and Science and Math inquiry using technology throughout my projects and curriculum. I also hope to expose my students to SketchUp, info graphics, and many more cool tools. My wheels are certainly spinning while I try to organize all the ideas and resources I have attained. I hope to post all the notes I took shortly, but until then, I want to leave my final thoughts about ISTE 2012. First, I was so impressed with all the presenters that I was lucky enough to see. I am sadden that I was able to attend a small fraction of the workshops offered. I also wish the free ticketed workshops were not limited to one a day. On top of that, each free ticketed session was limited to one hour when they clearly had three hours of material to cover. (The conference certainly makes money off the paid sessions and Exhibition floor.) On the flip side, I loved meandering through the Student Showcase and Poster sessions. The students were inspiring and such a true representation of what PBL and authentic teaching/learning can do. My goal is to have my own students presenting at ISTE in the years to come! Stay tuned for my notes.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


For our final project of the year we wanted something that would allow students to apply the 21st century skills they have learned and also provide a sense of closure to our school year. With two months left we still had to cover the Social Studies standards addressing American symbols and knew this would be our launching point. So, after covering basic facts about several American symbols and how they unite people, our class began to investigate our driving question, “How are we represented through symbols?”  

Our students, supported by the teachers and several experts in the field, studied symbology and explored different types of symbols and icons in order to understand how common interests, values, and beliefs are represented. Students then applied these abstract concepts to the real-world when they determined that “collaboration” was a common value at our school that could be represented by a symbol. Students were excited that they would design a symbol for collaboration that could highlight our school’s commitment to the 21st century skills.That was when the real work began. As a class we decided to collect evidence on how different groups of people collaborate at our school by creating a video of interviews from students, teachers, administration, parents, and board members. In addition, we wanted to document our class’ collaborative experiences by publishing a book. The class was broken into six different teams consisting of the Symbol Design Team, Interviewing Team, Video Recording Team, Video Editing Team, Writing Team, and Publishing Team. Every student participated in each part through continual feedback. This week we will be presenting our symbol, which has been incorporated into a wall hanging, at our school's Town Meeting.

I was so impressed by the students’ level of interest and engagement throughout this project. In addition, it was a wonderful learning experience for myself. I found that by creating teams in which tasks had to be completed at separate times made it much easier to manage and support each team. This final project was a true reflection of students’ development of critical thinking, problem-solving, self-management, communication, and collaborative skills. Here is a little from the last page of our first grade book.

“Well here is what we have learned.  What you need to do to collaborate is share ideas with your teammates.  Responsibility is important when collaborating.  You need to set goals in your team.  And the last thing is you have to be able to work in a team.” -Reid

“This is what we have learned about collaboration:  do not be off task and practice being in a team.  We have to work together in a team, do not goof around, do not fight, set goals with your team, participate and listen to your teammates.” -Coco

“I learned that sometimes it can be hard to collaborate with others.” -Reagan
“What I learned about collaboration is to never give up and keep focusing on what you are doing.” -Landon
“It is hard sometimes to collaborate because it is hard to think of ideas to share, but it is also fun to collaborate.” -Will