Guest blog post by Amy Storer, Learning Ambassador
Not too long ago, I sat and watched a friend in Kansas connect with my friends in Montgomery, TX. As I was sitting there I started to reflect on the importance of connecting with others. The importance of knowing that we aren't the experts at everything and that reaching out for guidance and inspiration is more about growth than it is about deficit.
"It took me a while, as an educator, to come to this realization. To completely understand the Power of the PLN." -Amy Storer
I had the opportunity to attend, share, and connect at the recent ISTE (International Society of Technology Education) conference in San Antonio, Texas. The event is like none other, so to recap the experience and compare notes with peers, I've documented my full conference experience: Sessions that I shared, events I attended, and great interactions I had during the conference.
Discussions w/ISTE on Student Voice
Before the conference began, I took advantage of the gathering of like-minded people to catch up with some of the amazing ISTE folks to talk about Augmented and Virtual Reality in education. I enjoyed chatting with these ladies and learned ISTE shares our interest and enthusiasm for empowering our students. It was refreshing to hear that #stuvoice (student voice) is going to continue to grow and thrive in our future classrooms.
I was also able to take a few moments to capture a 360 images (below) that bring the popular #NotAtISTE experience to a new level. Check it out here.
I also “captured” my personal thoughts about the upcoming conference via a Periscope. This can be a great activity to set personal expectations and get in the right mindset for a conference - try it sometime!
If you’re not familiar with them, the ISTE Ignite sessions feature various presenters with only five minutes each to share their passions—take my word for it, it is intense.
The lineup of speakers were incredible, and I was pumped to share From AR & VR to MR: Mixed Reality in EDU (view my slides). While preparing to go on stage, the behind the scene interactions were filled with fear, enthusiasm, and more fear. The common theme of “what did we sign up for” was mixed with “I'm so honored to be here”.
Combined Atomic Learning and Versifit Technologies have been operating in the education industry for over two decades, and offer a suite of products that have evolved as the ever-changing education landscape has shifted.
As Atomic Learning we have evolved our successful foundation of robust eLearning technical and technology training into also offering online pedagogical professional development. We now have over 8,000 educational institutions, 400,000 educators, and 10,000,000 students taking advantage of the most extensive online professional learning library for in the industry. Our name, however, is often still connected to our technical training roots.
Our sister organization, Versifit Technologies began in the industry as a custom software data management and analytics organization. Today we have expanded the offering which uses predictive analytics to help districts and schools of any size with accountability and school improvement, early warning and intervention, district financial and staffing operations, and student college and career readiness. Yet the brand is primarily known only for large data management projects.
Our solutions have flexed and changed in new and thoughtful ways to ensure we are always meeting the unique needs of education—now it is time for our name to catch-up!
Hoonuit, pronounced "Who knew it?" is the feeling you get when you learn something new, and represents a unification of our two organizations to create an infinite loop of knowledge and insight.
“We’re on a mission to help educators experience more “aha!” moments,” Paul Hesser, CEO at Hoonuit said. “Our solutions enable educators and administrators to assess and predict school and student needs, and for educators to take their own personal development path to tackle some of today’s most common education challenges, such as college and career readiness, student engagement and evolving instructional approaches.”
For more information or to receive a quote, visit www.hoonuit.com or stop by booth 3441 at ISTE.
There are a tremendous amount of classroom resources available to help students learn and teachers teach. Supplemental materials can be found within course textbooks, an online search or by using teacher or student created resources. Through a simple online search, within seconds, teachers can locate websites, images, documents, games, videos, and other media formats. What seems like such a simple process, presents challenges for choosing the most beneficial and relevant materials that will enable students to learn the material and help teachers to assess student learning.
How do we face these challenges? We can start with building relationships to better understand student needs and backgrounds. Starting with relationships will enable teachers to provide learning experiences which foster each student’s opportunity for growth and learning in ways that meet their individual needs at their own pace.
If you’re a teacher (or started your education career as one), have you ever woke up to prepare for a day of learning with great anticipation that today would be the day—the day that will change the game for your classroom?
Early on in my teaching career, I had high expectations that all professional development (PD) activities were opportunities for me to grow myself as an educator and enhance my instruction to help my students grow. Yet after days of “sit and get” trainings and mandatory in-service days, those expectations went unfulfilled.
I’m confident I’m not the only one that’s felt this way. Have you?
All too often, the trainings and professional development opportunities provided to teachers fail to provide the learning experiences those same teachers are expected to provide to students.
For me, I learn best while playing, interacting, and engaging in the material—the same with my students. Although every classroom requires practice and exams, my goal was to make the most out of each class day with fun activities. I came to class excited to “play” with math!
When the opportunity came to change my role from classroom teaching to providing district professional development, I jumped at the chance, but then found myself wanting to be back in the classroom after just a few weeks.
Why? Because my initial reaction was to abandon instructional approaches that had worked well with students, and instead revert to the way I had received my own PD. As it turns out, teachers are just as disengaged from learning while listening to a lecture or completing a packet of paperwork as their students.
While teachers may be excited by the potential of technology in their classroom, it can still be intimidating. Even hearing success stories and accessing example lessons can be overwhelming and leave them wondering “Where do I even start?”.
For many, the best way to start is to start an existing unit, lesson and/or task they’ve done with students before and are confident with. When they are already familiar with the content, it can minimize the feeling of being overwhelmed and make it easier for them to see the potential to integrate technology.
This approach can often be complimented by the SAMR tech integration model (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition). If you're not already familiar with it, be sure to check out our complete SAMR course. For now, let's take a peek at this example from the Tech Integration Strategies learning module using the subject of narrative writing:
Substitution With substitution, a teacher would have students type the work using a word processing program rather than handwriting it.
Augmentation In augmentation, the students would not only type the work, but use built in tools such as spell check and online resources or text tools for formatting the look of the text.
Modification To move to the modification of the task, students could use an online multi-media tool to collaboratively create a piece of writing with other classmates.
Redefine To completely redefine the task, students could try collaboratively constructing a story online using something like Twitter. Students would have to devote the entire story with that limitation of 140 characters. Editing and revisions are also made online, and the final product is produced and published in that online format. Maybe even as a blog where additional classmates can post feedback.
This example is pretty clear on how technology used with students should not simply be an add on, but rather infused throughout the learning process. However, it's not always so easy to see the difference between the different stages or components of SAMR.
To help ensure teachers are successful, Atomic Learning recently launched a SAMR Assessment that focuses on helping teachers gauge their own comprehension and application of each of the four levels of the SAMR model.
The assessment provides quiz-style insights and feedback designed to help teachers learn how to identify, create, and apply each of the levels of SAMR in their classroom, AND includes a listing of learning resources aligned to each of the four SAMR components.