Anyone who has ever attended a conference can tell you how overwhelming they can be: hundreds of presentations, venders, and new people. It is like standing before a firehose of new content. The energy is contagious. There is a palpable conference vibe as people connect, engage, and debate. I approach each moment with an open mind… and a note taking device. Taking notes and collecting new resources is the easy part, though. I find the real challenge lies ahead, when I return to my district. How will I share this information with the educators within my organization? Attending a conference is a special opportunity and it is important that the information flow does not stop with me. This year I streamlined my learning into three major take aways.
I have experimented with bookmarking apps in the past and used Symbaloo most often to create topic specific webmixes. However, after sitting through two presentations about curation and multiple others which featured curation tools, I knew I was dropping the ball.
The list of tools could go on for days, but I selected three of my favorites to share on our district technology blog – found here and highlighted below:
In recent years, I avoided Diigo because visually it did not compare to other resources. The landing page organizes your bookmarks by date and I did not like scrolling through the page.
Game Changer: Diigo now offers an “Outliner” tool. Highlight content right on the webpage and then add it to your Diigo Outliner. All of this is made extremely easy with the help of the Diigo Chrome Extension.
Padlet allows you to post resources to a board (which you can customize with background and images). Here is a sample Padlet. The really interesting thing about Padlet is the ability to share the link and allow other contributors to add content to your wall. Padlet also has a handy Chrome Extension.
Learnist provides aChrome Extension and curates content similar to Padlet,here is a sample. Game Changer: The ability to create a complete lesson in flow with the resources you are sharing – see the screen shot below.
While this term is not new, I believe it is still building a following. So, to be clear, gamification is not just “playing games in class.” Gamification is an embodiment of mastery based learning. A gamified classroom is differentiated to allow students to complete challenges and tasks in order to “level up” in their quest for mastery. There is no doubt about it, creating this structure will require a lot of advanced planning. However, I believe once in place, students will be actively engaged and the teacher will have more time to work with students one-on-one or in small groups.
My stand out favorite session during the conference was Philip Vinogradov presentation on Gamification. He had the perfect balance of audience participation, technology integration, and direct instruction. I connected not only with his content but with his teaching style. In addition to the information he shared about gamifying, I also picked up some tips for presenting to large audiences (when in doubt, bring dice).
I had the opportunity to share this information with two of our teachers who are planning to gamify a unit. They are still in the design phase, but they are currently experimenting with one of the resources, Class Craft, with a focus on classroom management.
In a session titled “SAMR – Leveling Tech Integration” the presenters shared an amazing student made video. The session was excellent (more great ideas for presenting to a large group – bring manipulatives), but the video was my big take away. The video was created by students to explain SAMR to educators. We have been trying to think of ways to provide digital citizenship lesson within our school, and this video turned on my light bulb. Have students do it. Certainly they have the most insight into their own social media world and students are more likely to take advice from their peers.
…and I also presented.
A colleague, Ross Cooper (@rosscoops31), and I presented twice at the conference: Daily Five and Guided Reading Tech Makeover and Common Core Math and Technology. The link below each presentation provides a list of our resources.