Tuesday, August 20, 2013

South by Southwest EDU

The following information is from the SxSWEDU website. This is one of the best conferences I have attended in years! Please view the information below and then support your Avila Ridiculous Innovation Team by voting on their presentation.
SXSWedu seeks to drive meaningful conversation and collaboration around promising practices to improve teaching and learning. Programming is designed for SXSWedu’s diverse audience of education stakeholders, all of whom are committed to creating a brighter tomorrow.

SXSWedu highlights thought-provoking Featured and Keynote Speakers in special sessions that bring to light today's leading topics and trends in education.

Enriched by a diverse swath of additional sessions and workshops, SXSWedu programming seeks to inspire, engage, enlighten and entertain its passionate, forward-leaning community of education innovators.

SXSWedu programming is largely determined by the greater community's input and session submissions via PanelPicker, its an online session submission tool. Proposals submitted in PanelPicker, along with input from the SXSWedu Advisory Board, play an important role in informing the final programming decisions and selections for the event.

The time has come for you to weigh in on the PanelPicker proposals we received. With a record number of innovative ideas proposed, we need your help reviewing, voting and commenting on the session proposals submitted for SXSWedu 2014!
Log in to panelpicker.sxsw.com using your SXSW account or create a new account to begin the voting process. Once logged in, you're all set to browse through session ideas, leave your comments and cast your vote for the ideas you want to see at the event.
PanelPicker Voting Open!
Your input will account for 30% of the final decision on programming for SXSWedu 2014, with the remainder of the decision coming from Advisory Board and staff input.
Register to attend SXSWedu 2014 by Friday, September 6 to take advantage of the early bird rate and save almost 60% off the walkup rate!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Video Games as Testing Tools

In the August 7th, edition of Education Week there was an article entitled, "Researchers SEe Video Games as Testing Tools: Play used to gauge noncognitive skills. The main contents surrounds two main questions: Is it possible to use gaming for assessment and instruction concurrently? Would the platform of video gaming provide a peak into students social emotional growth?

I found both questions interesting. As a K-12 educator for years-and a mother of 5- I spent many spring nights and mornings soothing the fragile egos and fears of my little ones worried that they would not score as expected on state tests. I feed my children a good dinner the night before and breakfast the next day, made sure they had a good night's sleep and packed snacks and hid notes in hope to boost their perception of the day's outcome. In the classroom, I walked around the room patting backs,whispering, "You're doing great!", and playing soothing music during breaks. I am not sure any of my acts helped, but I felt better trying to blend the line between learning as assessment.
If gaming would help students settle into a cognitive state and allow educators to use the data to build more effective learning I would say GREAT!

However, I never worried about measuring student non-cognitive skills because I was with them everyday. I watched them make friends and fight. I watched them comfort and pick. I saw them band together to support each other and attack. Each social emotional issue usually came with tears (happy and sad). Then I was lucky enough to work in a school that had adopted Dr. Ernest Boyers' Basic School Virtues. We taught these virtues, spoke these virtues,and lived these virtues as a learning community. Parents use the vocabulary at home, teachers used it at school, and all support staff made sure they checked in with the students to enure there was complete fusion of our virtues and our learning community. You could feel the positive, supportive climate when you walked in the school. The energy was high, consistent, and supportive. We knew the student population had bought into and owned the importance of social emotional well being.

So now, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking to see how video games can help. Hmm. don't get me wrong, I think the cognitive gain from gaming is very important and understand why this platform builds literacy. What I am not sure of is the need to focus on the assessment aspect of the games from the non-cognitive side. I would rather see the games used to develop our cognitive side with the social emotional aspect blended in.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Conference Format and Process Time

Background:  I am a high school physics/chemistry teacher who was converted to using technology productively into my teaching about 7 years ago.  Since then I have attended a number of educational technology conferences, large and small, in order to learn from others' experience and advice. 
Today's Conference: As I reflected on what I learned today (June 1, 2013), I thought it was particularly effective to structure the morning with 20 minute long breakout sessions that focused on one topic.  That amount of time gave me enough information about the topic, a web address or two to bookmark for later perusal, and some great ideas.  If the sessions had been longer, I probably would have been off to one of the web sites researching what the presenter was speaking about but no longer listening to the presentation.  Then, after lunch the luxury (!) of time to process and brainstorm with colleagues was especially productive. 
Applying it to my teaching: I needed the reminder of how valuable process and brainstorm time is to facilitating group synergy.  Too often in the rush to get through the curriculum or to cover the topics on an AP Exam, I have failed to allow my students to benefit from the collaboration and inspiration that results from group free time to work on topics/projects of direct interest to them. Because I made the decision to "flip" my classroom this past year, there has been more time for group work.  What was reinforced for me today was a reminder of was how valuable to students this time can be. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Creating the liquid network

Dr. Stokes recently put a name to the idea that teachers collaborate and develop ideas whenever and wherever we can.  This is the liquid network.  I picture a simmering pot of homemade soup on the stove.  You add a little of this and some of that, all in an attempt to concoct the perfect recipe.  Today's workshop gave us the opportunity to sample new recipes while letting others simmer a while.  I am completely overwhelmed, but in a good way.  I can't wait to try out all my new recipes!
I am here today because I am trying to find good resources for a skill-based class. I liked  many of the options presented to enhance learning, but at the same time, I feel the huge responsibility of using technology efficiently.
The big question is not just how to promote learning by using technology, there are many other aspects that concern me (time consuming, resources at my building, purpose for each activity, connection with the learning targets).  I feel this workshop answered some of these concerns, but I also believe that in the long way, as educator I will have to sort all the challenges that involve the use of technology inside and outside the classroom.

Great ideas

I really appreciate the opportunity to come to this event.  I am always looking for more ideas to use with my students.  In the past, I have been in seminars that cater only to elementary teachers.  I always check to make sure that the material will be relevant to me as a high school teacher, but it never works out that way.  At my school when we do PD, it is always about the math department and what would work for them, because our curriculum person is math-minded.   I love coming to an event at a university where all ages groups and content areas are welcomed and accepted.  I would love to hear about other workshops that Avila is presenting.  I also would love to know if anyone knows of other technology seminars or workshops where I can gain more tools for our current students.  I am nervous about our district's move to one on one with our students and not having enough resources to really use the computers.  I don't want to just use technology for technology sake, but rather to use technology to reach my students.