On October 20-21, I attended the ECOO conference. I may need to break from the one-post-per-week tradition again so I can devote several blog posts to my reflections on the conference. Here's my conference reflections based on the sessions I attended. I like to give a hard copy of these types of documents to my school administrators so they can see that my attendance at such events can benefit the entire school.
Educational Computing Organization Ontario Conference 2011
“Learn to Play – Play to Learn”
Conference Reflections by Diana Maliszewski
Thursday, October 20, 2011 8:30 am
Redefinition Jeopardy: Taking Back the Language of Learning by Will Richardson & Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
Summary =The opening keynote by founders of the PLP Network had participants think independently to create their own education hashtag and work collaboratively on ways to provoke and promote change. The traffic was so heavy due to an accident that I only arrived to hear the last 5 minutes of the session. Thankfully I was still able to hear a bit of the talk.
Thursday, October 20, 2011 9:45 am
Budding Bloggers: Getting Students Started On Blogging by Aviva Dusiger
Summary = Aviva (@Grade1 on Twitter) shared the technological and pedagogical practices she uses with her grade 1-2 students through blogging.
3 Key Points
· There are many different blogging options, such as Kidblog, Edmodo (which is good if you want privacy), and board-sponsored platforms (like The Commons in her board, which uses a Word Press version) – the key is not to get hung up on the software but focus on the doing
· There are many ways to use blogs in class and it’s okay to change your plans and ideas as you go – Aviva supplements the technology in her room with her own materials (e.g. her own iPads) to use with blogging and if other teachers aren’t using the school computers, why keep them idle?
So what? Now what? = It was delightful to finally meet Aviva face-to-face, as I’ve known her online for a while. I think I’d like to show Aviva’s class blog to my own students so they can see the possibilities; their blog is public and I still toy with the idea of public vs. private student blogging. I should re-start our grade 3-4 class blog, which has not begun yet this school year.
Thursday, October 20, 2011 11:00 am
Creating a Positive Digital Footprint (without putting your foot in it!) by Diana Maliszewski
Summary = The OCT advisory on social media scared many people but teachers already have a digital identity, whether they like it or not. Diana shared some mis-steps and some ways to cultivate a positive presence online and the benefits of doing so.
3 Key Points
· Individuals need to decide their comfort level in terms of what they share online (e.g. photos, personal information, etc.) but realize that information is already out there (e.g. Google search yourself)
· Students need responsible adult role models for online conduct in the spheres in which they operate online (Twitter, Facebook, blogs) and teachers can do that
· There are benefits to cultivating a digital identity, like meeting other educators, helping your students, and extending learning beyond the school
So what? Now what? = I cannot give a purely objective report on this session, since I was the leader. There was a lot of discussion in this workshop from the audience, some of whom were wary of enhancing their digital identity and others that were very comfortable with the concept. The participants created some incredibly insightful analogies: the OCT advisory is like the travel advisories created by the Canadian government – they may scare some people but it always comes down to “be safe and be smart” / honing a positive digital identity for your school is like raising a child – you praise them as much as you can (positive feedback) but once you have to scold them for a wrongdoing (negative feedback) then you have to work extra hard giving more compliments to put things back in balance because one bad comment tends to overshadow ten good comments. I was still able to squeeze in a counter-argument about allowing “alts” for freedom of exploration without totally destroying my main premise.
Thursday, October 20, 2011 1:30 pm
Differentiated Instruction and the SMART Board by Bill Schreiter & Bruce White
Summary = Bruce, a Differentiated Instruction and Assessment task force member in his board, and Bill, a SMART Board representative, showed many ways to use the SMART Board to address different interests of the students.
3 Key Points
· Several web resources were shared, such as http://bit.ly/ecoo2011 with information about this session (including a link to a large SMART Board file for downloading), www.zamzar.com for converting video types that you can embed in Notebook, www.teq.com for 100s of SMART Board tools like the garbage can, and www.thinkfinity.org for a database of lessons that you can search for instructional mode
· Bruce surveyed all his grade 9s with a 40 question survey that then created a learner profile that he gave to teachers as data for planning lessons so they’d consider various entry points to lessons or stressors in class; he also uses symbols and coding for different types of questions
· To have the students leading more on the SMART Board, give a paper copy of a test so kids can ahead / faster when using Senteo Response systems (something a colleague of mine came up with – great minds think alike), or set up avatars on Notebook that when clicked link to their own page, so that by using dual screen and pin page, the left side can stay the same and the right side can be individual spaces
So what? Now what? = My school’s improvement plan relied heavily on using technology to help differentiate learning and this workshop gave me some more ideas how to make it happen using the SMART Board. In addition to teaching hints (like using digital cameras and placing icons on pages as hints that extra information is available on a page if needed by a student), Bruce also gave technical hints, like how to capture sections of a video or how to bring MS Word files into Notebook (either using screen capture tools and then expanding, by choosing File>Print>SMART Notebook, or by highlighting and pressing Cntrl&C).
Thursday, October 20, 2011 2:45 pm
Integrating Video Games into Language Arts and Math by David Hutchison
Summary =Video games are cultural artefacts that should be played in class, discussed in class (even the controversial ones), and used to transform pedagogy.
3 Key Points
· There are many sites that teachers can consult about video games, such as www.gamespot.com www.seriousgamesource.com and www.whattheyplay.com for information about games, www.gamasutra.com and www.devmaster.net for creating games, and www.playingtolearn.org for links to David’s recently published book on the subject
· Students should be encouraged to think about how games are played and marketed, and take critical perspectives on video games, even becoming game creators themselves
· One of the people sitting near me told me about Microsoft Touch Pack (Google it) which is a free download that incorporates 5 items such as a screen saver, picture pack and blackboard that can work with Promethean and SMART Boards
So what? Now what? = I’m always a bit cautious when academics discuss video games because Melanie McBride (an influential figure in my PLN) has shown that many scholars write about the topic but don’t play themselves. David plays and he even got James Paul Gee to write the forward to his book. This session was more about confirming my own opinions about the importance of video games than about learning new things, although I think I want to buy David’s book. I snuck out in the middle of the session to listen in on Zoe Branigan-Pipe and Royan Lee’s session on “Our Digital Footprints: Reflection and Practice” because I thought it would be a nice follow-up to my session from the morning – it was, but I didn’t stay long because I still wanted to hear David’s talk.
Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:30 pm
Summary = The theme of the conference was “Learn to Play – Play to Learn” and so several play areas were set up with Mario Kart, Guitar Hero, Angry Birds, and Just Dance 3 for people to try. I played Just Dance 3 (Xbox Kinect version) and it was nice! I also met with the group to finalize plans for the ECOO Web 2.0 Face Off session the next day and had dinner with a group of new friends at my first ever Korean BBQ.
Friday, October 21, 2011 8:30 am
Promethean Interactive Whiteboards “Bus Tour”
Summary = My son and daughter accompanied me to the conference in the morning because they were scheduled to co-present with me at 11:00 a.m. Rather than attend a traditional workshop, we went to a vendor presentation on interactive whiteboards. My children got an opportunity to play on the IWB with drawing and maps and I heard about the own-mobile-devices option (schools will need to pay an access fee) and ways for poor schools to get the benefits of Promethean even if they don’t yet have the money for a board.
Friday, October 21, 2011 9:45 am
Utilize Multiple Technologies to Create Engaging Animations in the Classroom by Roark Andrade
Summary = Roark shared many different ways students can create their own animations, from simple to complex.
3 Key Points
· 30 frames per second is the typical ratio and students should be aware of this number when creating their animations
· Some programs that can be used for animation include Photoshop, iMovie, YouTube, JayCut, Keynote, Stykz (that’s Mac – we use Pivot), Adobe Flash, etc and they can use non-computer ways like flip books or a paper task Roark got from Art Attack
· One of the people sitting near me was from my school board and showed me some great ideas about revitalizing school web pages, like adding a Twitter button and ensuring source code is simple and asp (active server pages) are standards compliant – he recommended a book called “CSS in 10 Minutes” by Russ Weakley.
So what? Now what? = I didn’t learn as much as I could have from this session – I’m not sure if this was due to my preoccupied state (I had my kids with me, two presentations to present right after this one) or due to the presentation style.
Friday, October 21, 2011 11:00 am
Levelling up learning with video games by Diana, Mary & Peter Maliszewski
Summary = Are all video game players socially inept obese young men with hygiene issues? This presentation dispelled misconceptions and highlighted the benefits of playing video games by speaking with actual game-playing kids and playing alongside them.
3 Key Points
· Both girls and boys like to play video games but, depending on the individual, their game play style, favourite games, favourite systems and favourite methods (solo vs. collaborative) may differ (e.g. Mary has just a few games she plays regularly but she prefers co-op games / Peter has many games he likes, can’t choose the best system, and likes playing by himself although he does enjoy playing with others)
· Playing video games has many benefits – one caution is to ensure that games aren’t hijacked for just certain pieces for education purposes because that’s detrimental to education and to gaming
· Use real-life games, even board games, and play, so you can relate to students that play on a new level (fellow gamers)
So what? Now what? = Once again, it’s hard to determine how successful the session was to the audience because of my position. We ended the presentation portion of the workshop 20 minutes early to give people time to play games or attend another session and most people stayed. Mary and Peter were authentic speakers. Mary was very professional and even led a group in a game of Labyrinth. Peter enjoyed having the answers to the buzzer quiz but was bitterly disappointed that I forgot to bring the nunchuks so he could play Super Mario Galaxy and sulked a bit. Grant emailed me afterwards to say that based on my session and others he heard at ECOO, he was making video games a key part of his ALP. There is already huge interest in the Minecraft group my gaming PLC is creating.
Friday, October 21, 2011 1:30 pm
ECOO Web 2.0 Face Off by Anita Brooks-Kirkland et al.
Summary = In hockey-game fashion, two teams faced off to highlight Web 2.0 tools in ways that promote learning.
3 Key Points
· The first period tools mentioned by the players were Google Earth, Jux, Bitstrips for Schools (red team), Voicethread, Google Apps for Education, MMORPGs (blue team)
· The second period tools mentioned by the players were Prezi, Postini, Evernote (blue team), Glogster, Myna, Popplet (red team)
· The third period tools mentioned by the audience were Little Bird Tales, wikis, blogs, Twitter, Aviary, GoAnimate, Zite, Snapseed, Voki, Lino, Animoto, Tagxedo, Facebook, Dropbox, and others not written on http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/ECOO2011
So what? Now what? = I had a technical difficulty (my Prezi wasn’t up on Zoe’s computer for me to reference and that took up precious time) and it was hard to maintain the “tough trash talk tone” when everyone really respects and admires each other in real life. The audience seemed to enjoy it. Brenda and Peter were wonderful commentators because they appeared to really pay attention to what was said and gave actual descriptive feedback. Kudos go to Anita for coordinating eleven people with this project. I really need to try Voicethread and Glogster with my students – they’ve been mentioned often.
Friday, October 21, 2011 2:45 pm
Final Jeopardy: The Big Questions by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
Summary = Sheryl cited many people at ECOO as she encouraged conference attendees to continue spreading the word among other people, beyond our schools and province.
3 Key Points
· Teachers need to share their learning experiences; you can do it with the hashtag #changegame on Twitter – she told the group to take back the language of learning and be a lead learner
· People need to get ready to be uncomfortable as they embrace change – get out of our boxes and learn from the kids – go after project-based learning, passion-based learning, and inquiry learning – be a connected educator and embrace DIY PD
· Bloom’s Taxonomy now has “create” at the top; Sheryl says as part of that creating, you should see share > connect > remix > collaborate (co-construct) > take collective action
So what? Now what? = This was an upbeat way to end the conference. Sheryl said if this group of educators was able to make @dougpete trend on Twitter for all of Canada, we should be able to change the face of education. I think I’m going to tackle the gaming aspect of things, by working with my new gaming PLC and beginning a Minecraft experiment. Since I’m a terrible player myself, this will definitely be a time of discomfort and change!