Monday, June 4, 2018

Huge Triumphs and Tiny Regrets

Another whirlwind week has passed and there are so many things to consider! I realized that despite all the excellent things that happened, each event had a micro-moment where I had a "I wish that had gone differently" thought. I know I need to focus on the positive, but as I describe what I learned and experienced, I'll articulate the doubts (in a smaller font).

Radio Trip to Visit 98.1 CHFI, KISS 92.5 and 680 NEWS


On May 30, 2018, 31 students selected from Grades 1-5 had a chance to visit the headquarters of several, Rogers-owned radio stations. In February, a separate group visited the Bell-owned radio stations CHUM and Virgin Radio, and that helped shape our understanding of how radio stations operate. Our May visit really consolidated our learning and I am so grateful to Angela Morra for accommodating us. Radio stations are not meant to host school tours, especially for elementary school students. We were extremely fortunate that they made an exception for us.




The broadcast facilities at Rogers are incredible. We were treated so well, especially by Jax, the DJ at KISS 92.5. The students were thrilled to actually get to be on the radio. The news station was very informative and it was a technological wonder to see how seamlessly the reporters shared despite being in separate spaces. We took many photos! Big thanks to Ms. Bicos and Ms. Landra for helping to supervise the students with me. Watching students try to enter a revolving door was quite entertaining!

The tiny regret: One of my students has a visual impairment. I had hoped that on this trip, she would be able to touch some of the equipment that she had only heard us describe in the school setting. I mentioned the importance of having a tactile experience to the adult leading the tour but for whatever reason, the student didn't get the opportunity. In addition, there was a promo photo moment that I had to make a quick decision about and I could have included another student whose parent would have allowed it.

Media Additional Qualification Course Reunion

On May 31, 2018, students from the fall and winter sessions of the TDSB-sponsored Media AQ courses gathered at Northern Secondary School for a reunion of sorts. This was a deliberate effort to continue the learning and build capacity. We had very intellectually stimulating conversations about gaming, heard about a great resource from Michelle Solomon - Michelle, what's it called again? Some of us taped short comments for Charles C Chan to compile into a promotional video for the course. Thanks so much to Neil, Carol, Michelle, Tracey, Charles, Doris, Hong Rong, and others for adding so much to the discussions.

The tiny regret: The agenda was co-created by all the participants and one of the topics we decided to cover somewhat last-minute was the Maker movement. I name-dropped Melanie Mulcaster and attempted to channel her expertise in my answers but I felt like I forgot to mention some key people (like Laura Fleming, Diana Rendina, and Andy Plemmons). I will need to follow up with Melanie on some of the questions that I fielded that I'm unsure I did justice to - sadly, this will only show up in the meeting notes and not be part of the original talk, which is more memorable for people.

ETFO ICT Conference for Women

I love this conference! This year it was held June 1-2, 2018 in downtown Toronto. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll notice I posted a lot of my thoughts there. At the risk of repeating myself, here's my traditional "conference breakdown" reflection.

Friday, June 1, 2018 (10:30 am) - Opening Keynote by Dr. Camille Rutherford [Tech Trends Sweeping the Globe: Will They Be Coming To Your Classrooms?]

Summary and 3 Key Points

  1. Don't use technology as a one-trick pony or a hook; use tech that helps students grow from consumers to creators.
  2. Information is power only if you know what to do with it.
  3. Educators should be aware of some of the upcoming technology trends (i.e. VR,  AR, mixed reality, 360 video, block chain, bit coins, AI, predictive analytics, etc.)


So What? Now What?

I love listening to Camille. The questions she posted after providing a few examples were questions that we should ask ourselves frequently. I won't tune out just because I might not understand the concepts at first. Camille did a great job of scaffolding the information for the crowd and keeping us engaged. I even received a Lego female mini-figure as a gift.



Friday, June 1, 2018 (1:00 pm) - Amplifying Student Voice through TED-Ed Talks by Elke Baumgartner and Meghan Lowe

Summary and 3 Key Points

  1. TED-Ed Clubs are more about the process than the product and are meant to channel students' passions.
  2. Resources are available if you register and the 13 sessions are geared towards students in Grades 3-12 (and it usually takes about 6 weeks to go through)
  3. Skills like presentation literacy, primary source data collection, developing copyright friendly images, etc. are all developed through the TED-Ed framework


So What? Now What?

My teen has complained about the overuse of TED talks shown in her high school class, but Elke and Meghan really showed how being creators instead of consumers might change her opinion. I'd like to take their advice and invest in a good lapel microphone so audio projects can be better and not reliant on a standard microphone that might inhibit gestures. We can even use it for storytelling!



Friday, June 1, 2018 (2:15 pm) - Games-Based Learning: Playing to Learn by Denise Colby and Diana Maliszewski

Summary and 3 Key Points

  1. Games-based learning and gamification are two separate things.
  2. Some games aren't appropriate for the classroom but by being aware of the games your students play, you can leverage that in other ways in the classroom.
  3. Be aware of who has created a game, what their purpose might be, and the intended audience. (Not all games are created equal.)


So What? Now What?

I love presenting with Denise! She and I work well together. She kept us from going over time and the participants were interested and interesting! I just need to keep finding opportunities for Denise and I to work together.



Friday, June 1, 2018 (3:30 pm) - Closing Keynote by Leigh Cassell [What if?]

Summary and 3 Key Points

  1. When we depersonalize the learning experience, there is no experience of learning.
  2. Behind every image is a person with a story.
  3. In the absence of an authentic audience, and without a meaningful purpose, literacy instruction is just read, write, repeat.
So What? Now What?

Well, Leigh made us laugh and cry. Her words challenged and moved the audience. Rethink how relationships impact learning - and act on those thoughts!

Saturday, June 2, 2018 (8:45 am) - Game-Based Learning: Time to Play by Denise Colby and Diana Maliszewski 

Summary and 3 Key Points

  1. The smartest thing in a room full of teachers is the room - thanks Laura for sharing a new online game with the group!
  2. Don't play Cards Against Humanity with students unless you want to be in the blue pages! - The more serious point is that you can use old tech (like the Nintendo Wii vs the Nintendo Switch) in your classes.
  3. There are many curriculum tie-ins to different games and online versions of board games that help students learn the rules without cheating.






So What? Now What?

We had so much fun in this session! Despite the fact that it was the first session of the day, teachers that attended were active and engaged. I loved it when a teacher saw a creeper and asked if it was friendly; her follow-up question was "How can you tell who are the good guys and the bad guys?" and I love that for a general inquiry question! We used a "choose your own adventure" centers model and at one point we had some playing Ticket to Ride on an iPad, some playing Outdoor Challenge on the Wii, and some playing Minecraft. My next step is to play Little Alchemy with my Grade 5s as part of their science unit on Properties of and Changes in Matter!




Saturday, June 2, 2018 (10:45 am) - The Best Online Tools for Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration by Trish Morgan

Summary and 3 Key Points

  1. Peek back at your list of great online tools to keep them current (some change, some update, some stay the same, some alter their policies).
  2. Using some of these online tools in the classroom provide a safe place to teach digital citizenship, chat rooms, and redirecting off-topic discussions (like with Today's Meet)
  3. Consider different ways about using some of these tools and put new spins on old ideas (e.g. instead of saying "What would you do with a million dollars?", ask "What would you and your family do with a million dollars?" so you can get different perspectives and family involvement.

So What? Now What?

I got a lot out of this session. Some of the tools I've heard about a long time ago, like with Voki. Some of the tools I just learned about recently at ECOO Camp Owen Sound, like Geo Guesser. Some were new to me, like Jigsaw Palace. I will definitely use these tools in June so that there's still purpose to our time together with students, even if we've "covered it all". Trish is an excellent presenter and some of the things I learned don't get filed under "good tech"; they get filed under "good teaching".

Saturday, June 2, 2018 (1:30 pm) - Bring Creations to Life with the Makey Makey by Susan Lee and Louise Vaillancourt

Summary and 3 Key Points

  1. For an object to act as a conductor, it needs to have salt and water. Note, a Veggie Straw will not work unless it is completely soaked in spit.
  2. There are certain ways to handle your Makey Makey so that it doesn't break or fall apart.
  3. There are many curriculum connections you can use with Makey Makey, especially when combined with Scratch.






So What? Now What?

Connecting circuits takes brain power! I always had to remind myself to complete the chain and I like how Louise and Susan demonstrated this by having the group hold hands. It takes perseverance and I think I may want to get a single Makey Makey for myself to use next year.




I completed the feedback form for ETFO that asked us to describe the top 3 things we learned at this conference. I copied and pasted my answer because I thought it was worthwhile to share.

1) I have a wonderful network of old (and now new) contacts that I can turn to for help and support - e.g. thanks Julie for offering to help me with Moodle! Thanks Laura for showing me Little Alchemy!

2) Teaching about copyright and ownership shouldn't be boring or a one-off - embed it in different things you do, like Leigh's suggestion to Creative Commons license your slide decks, or Trish's example of using a Word Cloud you make for an online jigsaw, to value what you made.

3) Gender and tech do impact each other, like Camille mentioned about design that ignores female realities (like no pockets).

The tiny regret: The sessions went smoothly, but during our Friday workshop, I ran out of time to share the two anecdotes about gender expression in gaming environments. These examples were quite pertinent to a tech conference solely for women. I probably should have made the time to share it, as they were powerful stories to share and as Leigh said in her keynote, "behind every image is a person with a story".


Thank you to everyone who contributed in some way to those learning triumphs I got to experience (especially those who organized the events: Angie at Rogers, Neil and Carol for the Media AQ reunion, and Ruth, Kelly, Erika and others for the ETFO ICT conference). My tiny regrets are just that - tiny, and in the grand scheme of things, quite insignificant. I just don't want anyone to feel like things go "Instagram perfect" every time.



P.S. I nearly forgot to mention the site where I bought my dress that I wore on Friday!
As I tweeted Because isn't just about tech, but about women supporting each other in different ways (including flattering, comfy clothes with pockets!), I share the site-

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