I feel like I have been sucked into an edu-tech tornado….
It all started a few months back when I casually mentioned to a colleague, Erin Klein (@kleinerin), how I wasn’t satisfied and needed more with my career but didn’t know what. I was half way through the year of ”flipping” my classroom lectures but felt that something was missing. She introduced me to Twitter and quickly my PLN and ideas for the future took off.
As I sit here and reflect on the amazing people I have met, friendships I have created and projects I now am looking forward to implementing into my classroom, I can’t help but wonder, “why was I in the dark for so long?” and “why aren’t more of my colleagues taking advantage of this other world of teaching?”
My journey started this past March when I attended the Michigan Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference held in Detroit, MI. I basically “shadowed” Erin because I had no idea what I was doing, which sessions I should choose and didn’t know a soul. Luckily, I was blessed with the gift of gab because I quickly made friends and figured out which session fit me. I attended a gadget workshop and a Web 2.0 workshop both presented by Leslie Fisher, Redesigning Schools with Flipped Learning presented by Brian Bennett, The Epic Evernote Experiment with Nick Provenzano, Adam Bellow’s favorite apps and a social media session held by Erin Klein. I was also privileged to listen and be inspired by Kevin Hunnicutt, Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo’s keynote addresses. Each one of them had a message I needed to hear. They definitely got the wheels turning in my head.
The connections that I made during the MACUL conference were unlike most first-time attendees; David Prindle (@dprindle), Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian), Ben Rimes (@techsavveyed), Jennifer Bond (@teambond), Adam Bellow (@adambellow) and Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) were some of the people that I developed a great connection and friendship.
Christine Garland (@CAGarland) in particular got me totally “geeked” about implementing Remind101 (a safe way for teachers to text message their students and stay in touch with parents) into my course this Fall.
After the whirwind of MACUL, I couldn’t relax my brain, I needed more. Hence, my “off the wall” request to observe Nick Provenzano’s 9th and 10th grade English class at Grosse Pointe High School in Grosse Point , MI. Now, I teach 8th grade physical science so you are probably wondering why I would want to observe his class. Nick has been doing some incredible things in his classroom including the implementation of Evernote as a tool to change his traditional English classroom into a 1:1 iPad, paperless, environment. AMAZING, I thought! I needed to learn more and how to apply it to a science classroom where my students draw pictures of experiments and diagrams. How could I use this program to help me go virtually paperless?
Have you ever heard of a paperless English classroom? Nick’s 9th and 10th graders come right in, grab their assigned iPad and sign into Evernote to begin class. If they want to brainstorm or prefer to write that day, Nick’s desks are covered in Idea Paint, which is this amazing product that you can paint anywhere to create a white erase board. Nick’s students use it to jot down ideas and notes then take a picture with their iPads to place into their Evernote e-portfolio.
This got me thinking, and although I will not have access to a classroom set of iPads everyday, it’s in the back of my head. I definitely am using Evernote now to organize everything from faculty meeting notes, to my lesson plans, to my assignments. I plan on keeping them in organized folders in my Evernote account. And the great thing is, I can access them from any device!
You can imagine how I felt when I returned from Nick’s class that day. So many ideas, again brain was bursting (and just a side note, all of the above happened over my 2-week spring break!!!). I immediately returned to school and began writing a grant to attend the ISTE 2013 conference held in San Antonio, TX this past June. Needless to say, I won the grant that sent me to ISTE!
ISTE was unlike anything I have ever experienced. While I attended some amazing keynotes (Jane McGonigal on Gaming) virtually (Adam Bellow’s “You’re Invited to Change the World”), workshops (Nick Provenzano’s Evernote), sessions (Bellow and Dembo’s Untangling the Web and Alan November’s) and Ignite Sessions (Erin Klein/Jennifer Bond), nothing compares to the “out-of-session” connections I made with other ed-tech junkies!! I think this is one of the main reasons to attend these conferences!
The bloggers cafe was a happening place to be. Two Guys and Some iPads (Brad Waid @techbradwaid and Drew Minock @techminock) practically camped out there talking non-stop about how augmented reality is a game-changer in education (and I agree!!). They had tons of people stopping by to see real Aurasma and DAQRI demos. Andrew Vanden Heuvel (@avheuv)/Google Glass Guy/STEMbite was there explaining how he uses glass to virtually teach SCIENCE!! Way cool! You can guarantee we are Skyping this up-coming school year. Check out his youtube channel.
Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and I spent a lot of time together discussing how we flipped our classroom this past year. He has done some amazing things with his 5th graders and has gotten me excited about exploring SOPHIA.org as a means to organize my videos and upload various other media. I’ll leave a flipping discussion and what I discover about Sophia to another blog post. Drew Minock and I also spent a lot of time discussing an ipad app called Cargo Bot where students can learn programing! This is something I will be implementing as a club this upcoming school year. I’ll let you know how it goes!
I ended up spending quite a bit of time in the Expo Hall, not to browse all of the vendors and collect all of that free junk, but to get one-on-one time at the Edmodo booth so that I could learn all about their platform and figure out if this is something I want to implement in an 8th grade classroom. Turns out I ended up winning $100 in Edmodo money to use in their “store” to buy apps! The other booth that I spent a lot of time at was Techsmith. Now, I have a little place in my heart for Techsmith, #1 because they are from MI and #2 I fully immersed myself in Camtasia (their video editing software) this year. I also presented an “off-the-cuff” session about flipping and Camtasia at EdCamp Detroit with Dave McCollom (Techsmith guru). I consider myself an honorary Techsmith cheerleader I learned some new animation tricks courtesy Ryan Eash and did a Google Hangout with the guys back in MI from TX to get more information on their product called Ask3 (which I am also looking to implement this year).
I could go on and on about ISTE but recognize how long MY FIRST POST is! Like I said, it’s been a whirlwind! I’m up for it though, I was in a rut for the past couple of years. I feel like I have been revived! There is so much out there to make your classroom the best it can be. Erin Klein said it best in her ISTE Ignite presentation, “Would you want to be a student in your classroom?”. I really think I would. I’ve flipped my lectures (an ongoing project) and plan on implementing some pretty cool things into my curriculum this year that I have picked up on from some inspiring people. Stay with me now, my posts won’t be as long in the future (I promise)! I also promise to give you a taste of what it is like to be a student in my classroom! Your comments are welcome! I hope to learn from you as much as I hope you may learn from me!
Thanks for reading! -Ashlie