This is a cross-post from EdTechAfterDark.com, where I also write.
Have you been in a classroom in the past 10 years? What about the last 20? What’s the first thing you envision when you hear the word “class,” “school,” “student,” or “teacher?” Most likely, it’s a landscape of paper, wooden desks, and children sitting in rows with an authoritative adult at the front of the room. The teacher, orating in front of their disciples, points to a porcelain enamel board, scribbled with chalk (or a whiteboard, scribbled with marker), conceptualizes, and then deposits valuable information into eager young minds. Sometimes the children rise from their seats to speak with one another, but more often than not, sheets of paper rest on the cold, single-form desks in which they sit–one of the classroom commandments handed down from generations past: Thou shalt work on a sheet.
Something about K-12 academia beseeches this snapshot of classroom life. It’s become so married to what we’ve been told school is supposed to look like that when it doesn’t, we begin to get uncomfortable. Sure, we give children glue sticks and construction paper – but not for too long, lest we deprive them of “real” learning. We give them iPads and computers to create with and research on – but eventually, we need to corral them from this playtime and back to reality – the one in which we are in control of what they know, when they’ll know it, and how they’ll show they know it.
This “banking” concept of education, made famous by Paulo Freire in 1968 in his book “Pedagogy Of The Oppressed,” posits that “knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing...The teacher presents [themselves] to [their] students as their necessary opposite; by considering their ignorance absolute, [they] justify [their] own existence.”
Fifty years later, the landscape of what we envision classrooms to be at their core still echoes this description. Even when we introduce technologies that are revolutionary and have the potential to alter this paradigm, this school model of “sit, receive, dispense, repeat” seems to prevail regardless of how many tools we throw at it. To illustrate this point, let’s look at how another industry goes through change: Apple, Inc.
If you asked the next person you ran into to tell you what Apple is as a company, you’d undoubtedly hear that they are a technology company that makes phones and computers (and maybe iPads). However, this isn’t necessarily how they view themselves. In a video essay published by PolyMatter, they claim that “[Apple’s] business may involve transistors and resistors, but from their perspective, this is only incidental. Technology is actually the enemy–a distraction; a source of confusion. In the ideal world, no one cares about RAM. Or even knows they’re using a computer. They’re just drawing, reading, or talking.” Apple’s technologies have purposefully and quite deliberately been designed to make them as far removed from a “computer” as possible – removing ports, bezels, and sometimes buttons (looking at you, iPhone X). The goal is to make these devices just “work–” to make them transparent as a computer, but to turn into the exact thing you need based on the context in which you are using it. These philosophies lead to the kinds of decisions that upset customers in the short term, but ultimately lead to success in the long term.
Apple is also not afraid to kill products that they don’t see as fundamentally in line with their vision, and don’t look to other companies’ successes as benchmarks. Instead, competition exists within the company itself to try and render past products obsolete. Steve Jobs famously teased three revolutionary products in his MacWorld 2007 Keynote–an iPod with touch controls, a mobile phone, and an internet communications device–only to reveal that they were all encapsulated within one device: The iPhone. Now, people view their phone as being able to do at least these things right out of the box.
Making changes to a product line as well-known and widely-used as Apple’s isn’t without some customer blowback (the removal of the iPhone headphone jack is just one example along with the removal of the CD and floppy disk drives). However, the negative press is something worth weathering to them because long-term success is something that far outweighs it. They’re not always right, but their success speaks for itself–and they can afford some hurt feelings along the way.
“School and student success is standardized in such a way that criminally undermines the massive potential for learning these devices open up.”
What if we took this theoretical approach and applied it to schools? Teachers with classrooms filled with devices equipped with this type of transparent technology find themselves at odds with what we’ve been conditioned to believe must historically happen in a classroom (and, quite frankly, is what their evaluations indicate as best practice). School and student success is standardized in such a way that criminally undermines the massive potential for learning these devices open up. Instead, by decree, revolutionary internet communications devices like the iPad are reduced to test prep vehicles, or worse, crippled by device management systems to the point of regressing into confusing computers again.
The principles that are the heart of any school’s decision making processes should be what is best for the children attending that school–period. Honoring what made a school successful in the past is important, but just as important is the need to make theoretical predictions about the future of a school. What’s the plan for when every child who enters a classroom has a phone that is also a portal to the internet, a music and video player, a crowd-sources encyclopedia, and a literal stream of consciousness of the world? Are schools equipped to teach kids like this? What do schools do about children who don’t readily have these devices? When teachers are given a laptop, projector, iPad, and touch devices to teach with, isn’t it a little bit hypocritical to tell children when and where they should be learning with their own?
“If we neglect to invest in what we think is a better way of doing things for fear of being compared to how everyone else is measuring success, schools and classrooms will never change.”
If schools are truly motivated by current trends and the ways in which human beings consume and create meaning with the world around them, then we should be okay with classrooms that are designed have children interacting with technologies the same way anyone would to get what they need out of them (with guidance, of course)–classrooms that don’t look like traditional ones–and, by necessity, aren’t measured by the same standards. Teachers shouldn’t fear that the loud, messy learning going on in their room, fueled by design (and not technology), will be viewed as substandard because the lens they’re being viewed from hasn’t been updated since 1960.
If we neglect to invest in what we think is a better way of doing things for fear of being compared to how everyone else is measuring success, schools and classrooms will never change. If we’re willing to upset some people in pursuit of what’s best for children, then maybe we’ve begun sowing the seeds of a revolution for our nation’s schools.
1“PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION — CHAPTER 2: PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED.”HTTP://FACULTY.WEBSTER.EDU/CORBETRE/PHILOSOPHY/EDUCATION/FREIRE/FREIRE-2.HTML. ACCESSED 12 JAN. 2018.
2“POLYMATTER’S GRAND THEORY OF APPLE EXPLAINS WHAT MAKES APPLE ….” 19 DEC. 2017, HTTPS://WWW.MACOBSERVER.COM/COOL-STUFF-FOUND/POLYMATTERS-GRAND-THEORY-APPLE-EXPLAINS-MAKES-APPLE-APPLE/. ACCESSED 12 JAN. 2018.
This is a cross-post from EdTechAfterDark.com, where I also write.
I was lucky enough to be able to not only attend the LearningForward conference in Orlando in December of 2017, but present there as well during their FastForward session (think PechaKucha, or 20 slides/20 seconds each). This was exhilarating, and I was glad to have had the practice presenting to all of you at the ADE Academy 2017 in Texas about our student technology team, the Genius Squad.
Having been a teacher for 8 years, I felt I had a pretty good understanding of how my classroom worked and how students learned. I’d been to many conferences prior to this one, and, respectfully, I had seen and heard a lot of the same stuff before (students first, technology is a just a tool, the teacher is a lead learner, etc). All of this is good practice and shouldn’t be marginalized to those attending EdTech conferences. Differentiating instruction is tried and true, and the concept is not foreign to teachers, veteran or newbie alike. Throughout the conference, I would drift in and out of concurrent sessions, fill up my motivational or philosophical tank, and be fired up that this type of thinking is being spread around. Sometimes I would learn of a new technology tool or iPad app, sometimes it would be more pedagogy focused or mindset-based. All great stuff.
Then, I walked into John Antonetti’s session.
I, along with my colleague Meg Jones, are the two technology integration coaches in our district – so we naturally registered for John’s session entitled “Technology To Engage Thinking.” Right off the bat, John told the audience: “In this session, I’m not going to teach you to use technology. You can figure that out yourself.”
What unfolded was a deep dive into cognitive processes of the brain, how children learn, and our role as teachers in the pivotal time in childrens’ lives when their brains are most malleable and impressionable. And we used some tech tools to help. One such discussion that we’ve gone on to adapt in our district, which has been transformational in terms of our teachers’ thinking about their own instructional practice, is a workshop we call “Dialogue & Collaboration: Placing Children at the Center of Learning.” [Side note: Meg Jones created these resources and deserves all the credit. And you should totally follow her on Twitter.]
Here’s the link to the entire NearPod presentation, which we use to guide teachers through various tasks: https://share.nearpod.com/vsph/KYwtbIFRAJ
Basically, the structure is simple. We begin by celebrating successes of the campus, from novel uses of technology to providing routines and spaces for student exploration, or having a “growth mindset.”
The entirety of the remainder of the workshop is us posing questions to teachers and discussing their answers. We used NearPod to provide a means for immediate feedback (from drawing on images to providing text responses) and also to model some usage of technology that teachers could go back to their classrooms and experiment with. However, the real power of this format is the dialogue that results when talking about what children need in the classroom.
We posed these questions to teachers, which they could respond to via NearPod:
There are no “wrong” answers to any of these questions. Questions 1 and 2 are meant to get teachers thinking about how much planning goes into how (and why!) students will use technology as opposed to how they themselves feel motivated to incorporate it–but the third question, “What do you consider when planning for a lesson or unit,” is purposely worded to omit the word “technology.” Teachers answers were varied but the general idea is that all answers are relevant – standards, student schema, how well students understand previous concepts, etc.
After this, we introduced FlipGrid as a video response tool. We posed the following two questions back to back while offering some sandbox time to play around with FlipGrid and get used to its features:
This is where the magic happened. After having some fun with FlipGrid, we got into a discussion about the similarities between each of these questions. Is expressing understanding and expressing ideas the same thing? How do we measure it? How can teachers provide time and space for children to express both? This difference wasn’t unanimously accepted – some teachers believed that the expression of understanding was the expression of ideas, because a concept had been solidified.
Then, we introduced these simple images and posed a simple question: What are children doing?
From these images, teachers were able to visually scan these images and decide what it was students seemed to be doing in a classroom. Both images have students “using” technology–in the first, we see a child reading what appears to be an eBook on American Football. Teachers agreed that in this image, the child was merely accepting meaning from either a book or reading passage. The second image, however, is a bit trickier. At first glance, it appears as though it has all the “look-fors” for authentic usage of technology and instructional practice: turn-and-talk, small group, technology being used, and children interacting with content. It was clear to teachers that these children were making their own meaning because they were discussing, pointing, and reading.
But were they? Who provided the passage? Who told them what words to look for? Who created the task?
What we wanted teachers to come away from this workshop with was the mindset that there are two things that can occur in classrooms:
1. Children accept meaning that is given to them.
2. Children make new meaning themselves.
There are a few other concepts we introduced in the NearPod presentation, such as Paulo Freire’s “Banking Concept” of education – in which children are treated as consumers most of the time. In schools, we “deposit” information into the child, and then “withdraw” that information in the form of assessment:
The main thing we wanted teachers to realize is that every lesson falls somewhere on this continuum of teacher-led inquiry to student-led inquiry. Sometimes, we need to make that “deposit” of information. Other times, it’s important for students to make their own meaning and have the space and time to pose their own problems and solutions.
To conclude, I showed this video that was shared with me via Facebook to illustrate just how unique a child’s thinking can be. You could place it anywhere in the workshop, but it provides some levity and laughs. Just replace “parent” with “teacher:”
Overall, I’m thrilled with how positively teachers came away from this opportunity to think critically about their own classrooms. It’s certainly changed my own thinking as well. I hope you can use it in some way!
This is a cross-post from EdTechAfterDark.com, where I also write.
So, something happened yesterday.
A teacher at one of the elementary schools in our district had requested I come by to teach her fifth grade students about web-based research—you know, best practices, how to discern good sources from bogus ones, and some digital citizenship stuff. I was excited! I love discussing these skills with students; especially since what it means to be a digital citizen continues to evolve and become both essential and ephemeral.
The day started out great—I built upon a great lesson concept by Jeff Utecht in which students would have to discern what signifies a website is a reliable source or not. We talked about the site thedogisland.com (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s a site that promises a safe haven complete with wide open beach for dogs to roam off leash from their owners—you ship them in a luxurious box, which the site provides “pictures” of, to the aforementioned Dog Island, for the canines to live out the rest of their days in peace). In short, it’s obviously fake. But to an untrained fifth grade eye, it seems legitimate. I introduced the site as one in a vast sea of websites created every minute on the internet, and we discussed what makes it look real (links that work, descriptions, photos, statistics of dogs on the island) and what looks questionable about it (looks dated, some word choices like “dogologist”).
After a great discussion, I let them in on the joke—the site wasn’t real. Some were surprised, but most held fast and claimed that they “knew it was fake all along.”
We then discussed what to look for in websites to determine validity, following Chris Betcher’s “5 Factors For Evaluating A Website:” Authority, Currency, Content, Audience, and Structure. Some students pointed out that the content of the site seems questionable on second glance, and they were unable to easily find the author of the site, much less any of the people the website was referring to. I then introduced Google’s [linkto:] syntax to them, after which you include a website’s address to see all other places linking to that site (i.e.: linkto:thedogisland.com). Students recognized that most other websites were either questions about The Dog Island’s validity, or simply the site linking back to itself. They’d never tried this before and were excited to try this technique to other sites they were familiar with.
Finally, I provided a Keynote slide with five QR codes linked to five different websites – some real, and some I knew to be fake, such as “The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.” I asked students to scan one code randomly and then apply the Google “linkto” technique and any of the other skills we had just discussed prior when evaluating The Dog Island’s website.
Students scanned with their iPads, and in teams, evaluated the random site they were met with. They had varying levels of difficulty discerning which sites were real and fake – but mostly because they had never been tasked with this before. It was fun to ask them questions about the content they were seeing and to watch them be critical about what they were seeing on their iPads.
However, something happened. One team raised their hand to share the website they had scanned and their evaluations of it’s validity, but when I asked them the name of their site, it wasn’t one of the five I had linked to with my QR codes. Upon further investigation, here’s what had occurred:
Using the “QRafter” app, some students scanned the codes I had projected, but before being taken to the website the QR code linked to, the app displayed an ad. Students tapped on the ad and evaluated that website instead.
How could I have missed this? And what a relevant, teachable moment about the way we need to be critical about the content in front of us on our screens? This led to another, “unscripted” discussion about digital advertising and how annoyed students have gotten about sites that seem to have cleverly placed advertisements that they tap on by mistake. We also discussed what companies may do to target specific people in their ads, what sites they appear on, and what students can do to decipher their search results from advertisements.
Sometimes, the best things happen by accident.
Dan Koch is a Technology Integration Specialist for Citrus County Schools, 1/3 of the #EdTechAfterDark team, and can also be found over at DanKochEDU.com.
In 2012, we adopted iPads for our 7th grade students. Teachers received iPads as well. There was excitement. There was frustration (how did one copy and paste on these things?). There was reluctance.
Change is hard. I want to address this fact before I continue, because even though we've put devices in the hands of every grade level student and teacher in the four years since we've started our 1:1 program, the core of what we want to accomplish will always be more important than access: innovation.
I think it's important to realize that even the Terminator movies had technology that was designed to assist us in our daily lives, make life more convenient, and improve the quality of life we enjoy. Aside from computer viruses, nobody designs a piece of hardware or software to be deliberately cumbersome or cause you distress (unless you count QWOP, which is the most frustrating game ever).
Migrating to a digital workflow solution or trying to make your classroom paperless does come with the task of understanding different digital ecosystems and how they work, which, by necessity, will force you to learn tools you haven't learned before. Sometimes, stuff won't work. Sometimes things will work 93% of the time, but 7% of your students can't get their Google accounts to authenticate that day for Google Classroom. You may have to call your IT guy. You may have to have a plan B.
My point is...don't you always need one? Copiers break. Students forget pencils. And pens. And binders. Educational technology is not the catalyst for chaos - teaching is. We must always adapt to what the needs of our classrooms are. If students are using technology to access information, content, experts, and each other for the majority of their day, why are some of us asking them to get into a time machine when they enter our classrooms? If it's because it's easier for us, I believe that is the wrong answer.
How do we manage change?
The excellent Tim Lings pointed out in a recent forum post that Apple runs training camps that address this type of technology aversion some teachers experience, and how to manage the changing tide:
"Imagine a desert island, and you need to get to another island. Some might jump in the water and swim off straight away. Others might get their binoculars and look out for the sharks. And others might cling to the flag pole on the island you're on already.
Each approach has it's advantages and disadvantages, and none disqualifies someone from leading change. [Some may] be the one[s] jumping in straight away, not noticing that the water might be shark infested!
But to make the change, what you actually need is a boat to carry people across. And in the end, you might need to burn the flag!"
Here are some things that may assist your reluctant tech adopters:
Finally, when your WiFi goes down the day you've scheduled an online exam, just remember that every aspect of being a teacher involves a little improvisation. The plane may be flying at high speeds in the air while we're building it, but we all need a boat to carry us across to the next island when it crashes.
Well, there's a new year on the horizon. Most things I'm reading on the interwebs have to do with reflections of 2015, past successes, failures, and looking ahead to 2016. Others have to do with new year's resolutions, and how we'll change things we're doing in our lives for the better.
I've been thinking a lot about brands lately. If you asked me to name a few "brands" as quickly as I could in 10 seconds, I'd probably say things like "Cheerios," "Apple," and "Starbucks." Brands that produce tangible products that I can see, touch...eat. But, as I've gotten more involved in educational technology, or "#edtech," I've come to see that there are many teachers and administrators who have created their own brands. No, they haven't invented the next cutting edge piece of technology to use in the classroom. They've cultivated a digital space for themselves online, many times in large communities of educators on Twitter, and branded their own philosophy of education, technology, and best practices into a "school of thought" that can be sold online for the greatest commodity of them all (besides money): Likes.
Any time of day, if I want, I can hop on Twitter, search for a few hashtags I follow regularly (don't forget to follow #edtechafterdark Mondays at 10PM EST!! LOLz!!!), and within seconds, I can probably find something that makes me think differently about my classroom, education, find a great educational technology tool or app that I didn't know about before, or any of the other things administrators would love us to do in the mandated time we have to attend professional development on the clock as teachers.
When you search for one of these hashtags (let's use #1to1techat for an example), the posts you see immediately will be under the umbrella of "Top." This means that the tweets you are seeing have been aggregated and displayed to you based on the number of times they've been interacted with (clicked), shared (retweeted) or liked (that little heart thing next to them, which used to be called "favorited," but I guess that's not actually a word, so they changed it. Or they copied Facebook). The other tab, "Live," is a ticker-tape of all tweets being posted with that particular #hashtag, in an up-to-the-second feed for you to look at. Other tabs allow you to see media that has been posted within the hashtag umbrella, such as "videos" and "photos."
We all want to be in the first tab. There's been a moment when you retweeted a high-end #edtech guru with 56.7k followers that you thought, "I hope this finds my audience. I hope I get noticed." Our online identity has become so much more than just our screen name back in the AOL days (mine was KnucklPuck - one of the best scenes from D2: The Mighty Ducks). Now, it represents our flock of like-thinkers; our digital brethren who share what we know to be important. It's our Avatar: the thing we digitally wear as a coat of arms, like a shield decorated with badges of honor bestowed by other warriors, indicating the number of battles we've fought, hoping to become ingratiated into the fray.
All of this takes place during our "free" time. Do we have any as educators? Are we ever off the clock?
And so, I'm back at the beginning. Is building an online "brand" of your identity to "sell" your ideas and edu-philosophy self-serving, or meant to really help others? Are you doing it to further your career, or to get endorsed by Apple or Google, or is it to assist "digital immigrants" in navigating a landscape that is foreign to them? Why are you investing your time into the Twittersphere and cultivating your #edtech "brand?"
I think it's important for there to be SOME separation between work and life, and to not be glued to your device waiting to participate in the next Twitter Edu-chat on the weekend. Your relationships with the three-dimensional people around you are just as (and in many cases, more) important than the professional colleagues you interact with digitally. However, for many educators, their work IS their life. It's one of the most selfless jobs I've ever seen anyone take, and I think we all cultivate this village--digital or three-dimensional--for the right reasons.
Happy New Year!
Padlet is an excellent tool to use in the classroom. It's basically an online sticky-note board where users (no sign-up required!) can "pin" notes with images, videos, or text, and it can act as a digital "parking lot" for student responses.
In my ELA classroom, I'd use it for BOCAs (Beginning of Class Assignments) or to get quick responses from students about a question posed to the entire class. One of our questions we discussed last year was a "life-changing" event that occurred in their lives, no matter how trivial they thought it was:
I got some pretty great responses this way. I made the Padlet link into a QR code, displayed it on the projector for students, and all they had to do was browse to the site and post their response (Padlet now has an iPad app, so you can pick your method of choice).
How things are displayed on Padlet is up to you. There are three methods of display:
Freeform allows posts to be "stickied" anywhere, Stream will force posts to stream one on top of the other, and Grid forces a left-right display.
I decided to use Padlet this year in my Intro to Media Arts/Morning Show class, which is responsible for recording morning show that is aired daily. I sent a Padlet link out to our staff called the "FNN Community Corkboard" (we are the Falcons, so our morning show is called the Falcon News Network) and asked them to post anything they'd want aired on the morning show with sufficient information. My students would also be given this link, and part of their video production grade is to incorporate at least two Padlet items into their broadcast for that week.
This has proven to be extremely helpful to the FNN students and the staff, as we no longer have to sift through emails to obtain air dates and important information. If you've used Padlet in an interesting way, please comment below.
I have a long relationship with the internet.
Yesterday, I was able to visit Tallahassee to help launch iTunes U courses developed by teachers from across the state of Florida. Starting in October, FASA (the Florida Association of School Administrators), along with Apple and the HELiOS foundation, selected teachers from multiple school districts to build online iTunes U courses for teachers, students, and parents that align with state standards and provide TONS of digital content and resources. I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in this initiative, and was able to work with teachers who are full of so much awesome that I can't adequately describe it here (one of whom is the great, techy Lauren Fenech--check out her twitter account here). The courses include sample lessons based on subject area and grade level, and include iPad apps that we actually use in all of our classrooms, so you know they're good. Check out the courses here (I headed up the ELA 3, or 8th grade ELA course).
After our table demo in the morning, FASA and Apple held a press conference right in the heart of the Florida Capitol, where we got to speak about the courses and take questions. I did a quick demo of our 8th grade ELA course for the people in attendance. By far, the best part of the conference for me was being able to hear a high school student, the daughter of one of our Apple collaborators, speak about technology--especially her phone. "My phone is more than just on me all the time--it's part of me," she began. "Being able to look at course content and materials, and study what I'm having difficulty with has changed the way I learn. Learning doesn't start and end at school anymore, and we aren't limited to the four walls of the classroom." Cheers to that!
Being part of this team of educators and hearing their stories about how technology, specifically the iPad and the countless apps at their students' disposal, has changed how they teach, it's clear that this stuff isn't a passing fad, or something to distract us while we wait for education to go back to the way it was. It's not going to, and these awesome teachers don't want it to.
I need to slow down.
I recently gave a presentation (the format was gleefully stolen from the superb Mike Meechin, check out his blog here) in which I showed our teaching staff about 60 technology tools to use in the classroom in 60 minutes. The night before, I had screencasted myself using the apps, either through a browser or grabbed from an iPad using Quicktime's screen recording function on my Mac, and inserted the videos into a Keynote. This allowed me to talk about each application and actively show it being used to the audience without them having to sit there and just think, "well, that SOUNDS good." It went very well and I received a lot of positive feedback.
Fast forward to yesterday. Kathy Androski, our media specialist and a tech guru herself, had invited me to assist in leading training for our 6th grade team, as they are receiving iPads for themselves and their students next year (our only grade level currently without 1:1 devices). We had a simple agenda. Spend some time helping teachers log in to Google Drive, it's functions, the purpose of the app, and how it can store and receive data from other apps on the device. Before I knew it, I found myself talking about Google Docs scripts like Doctopus and Google Chrome extensions, Google's infrastructure, and also found myself looking at some confused faces. I did what I typically do--got excited about a particular app or tech tool, and started spewing out every thought that came into my head.
Why am I writing about this? Because it reminds me of when someone asks me to show them something on a computer and I breeze through steps A, B, and C to get to their question (let's call it "D"). Steps A-C are important, and yet I leave them out. When I got my new Journalism I students this semester, I gave them an iMovie project and expected them out of habit to know how to trim video clips, separate audio tracks from video, and cut together a video news report, when most of them did not. It's important for me to always remember that while I know my way around plenty of Web 2.0 tools and iPad apps, not everyone has had a chance to experiment and figure out steps A-C yet. It's my job to show them. I mention this not to inflate my own ego or claim that I know more than others, but simply because I've been in situations that required explicit instruction and I never received it. It's easy for me, being surrounded by technology on a daily basis, to forget--but I need to remind myself to slow down.
FETC 2015 is days away! After attending last year and seeing all the amazing tech demos and new startups in the #edtech arena, I'm excited to go again this year. If you don't know what FETC is, find out more here. In short, FETC is the Florida Educational Technology Conference. Google gave a keynote speech last year, which was eye opening. I remember one of the biggest takeaways being one line from the conference: "What's the worst consequence of your best idea?" I will be presenting with Kathy Androski (an amazing tech guru and Civics teacher who moonlights as a Media Specialist) representing Citrus Springs Middle School. Our students have been taking home their iPads and bringing them back to school ever day for three years, so we feel our session "Moving Forward with iPads in the 1:1 Environment" may offer some insights for some people attending or thinking about starting a 1:1 tech pilot program. Here's the FETC conference listing.
In addition, I was asked by FASA (Florida Association of School Administrators) and Apple to speak at the conference about the soft launch of the "A.V.E. for Success"iTunes U courses that myself and other teachers from across the state of Florida have compiled and created together. Here's that session information.
The first day of this conference coincides with my wife's 30th birthday (I follow suit this June). The second day, after I speak on behalf of FASA and Apple, I have to drive back from Orlando (a 1 hour and 40 minute drive) to make the Teacher Of the Year dinner I was invited to on time (I am still reeling from the shock and honored to have been chosen as the TOY for my school).
This perfectly embodies the teaching profession. How could this be a better representation of our classrooms? We have a million things on our to-do lists. We time manage with our eyes closed. We get overwhelmed with standards, IEP's and 504's, but we somehow finagle everything into a neat mold of professionalism and enthusiastic grace. As teachers, we have more battle armor than we know. I'm thrilled to be a part of FETC, that I work at a supportive school that rewards risk taking and applauds the big technology integration dreams we all have (even if some of them don't always work), and excited that I get to talk about nerdy stuff for a few days with like-minded people. It's gonna be great.