A clever way of looking at what may happen if we don’t try to move forward with technology was this great video. It used humour to look at the once popular business of renting a movie from the video shop, which is pretty much a thing of the past with the introduction of services such as NetFlix and the ability to hire movies from iTunes.
Teacher Dashboard is an amazing piece of software that allows teachers to detach themselves from the photocopier and distribute work to students almost instantly (obviously depending on network). Each student can be provided their own copy of the work to make their own or students can be shared a common document that allows for collaboration. I love Teacher Dashboard as it has allowed me the freedom of not needing to collect 30 student workbooks, not have to line up at the photocopier or printer of a morning and to reduce the clutter on my desk!
We also explored going paperless for record keeping using Google Sheets. I shared with the attendees another fun tool that I recently learnt about ‘Yet Another Mail Merge’, which is an Add-On for Google Sheets. By using this Add-On you can send personalised emails to groups of students/teachers/parents with a few clicks of the mouse button. I have used this to provide students with feedback of their class work and to distributes marks with ease.
I really felt like this session was a great success. The feedback I received from the participants was positive and everyone said that they left having learnt something new and with a few ideas of things that they would like to try in their own classes. So all in all, I think that’s a win for me!
Today I finally got to see Zeina Chalich at work in her 'iSolve - Using GAFE to support Authentic Learning' session. I missed Zeina’s session on the first day as I went to explore screencasting and the participants in her session almost broke Twitter they were feveriously Tweeting, singing her praises! Today was no exception. Zeina shared with us the way that she uses Google Chrome Apps and Extensions to create authentic projects for her students. In particular, her students have used these tools to complete a project exploring a trip to Japan. The students needed to use the tools to find prices for flights and accommodation, research things that they could do and see in Japan, find out about the weather and work out what to pack, all the way down to finding out the time difference so that they could see what time it was in Japan whenever they wished.
Along with this, Zeina shared some of her resources and ideas for getting students coding. We explored Kodable as one possible program to allow students to explore this skills. This great video explores coding as ‘What Most Schools Don’t Teach’ and includes a range of now very successful entrepreneurs who started coding when they were young. Being able to explore coding helps to build skills in problem solving and creativity as students work towards solving problems or designing programs.
I could write about all of the Add-ons that Maggie talked about, but I will focus on just a couple that I think are the most useful in teaching. Firstly, ‘Texthelp Study Skills’ allows you to highlight text using a yellow highlighter (it used to allow you to highlight in 4 different colours, but this function has now been removed :(). This is different to simply selecting the text and then choosing to highlight it in the Formatting options! The great thing about this Add-on is that you can ‘collect highlights’ and the script will run and all of the things that you have highlighted will be put together as dot points in a new document! This is a great way for students to gather keywords from a text.
Secondly, ‘MindMeister’ is another great Add-on for Google Docs that can be used to help students revise and consolidate their understanding. ‘MindMeister’ will turn any series of dot points into a mind-map that you can then either copy into a new document or keep in the one that the dot point list is in. You can team ‘MindMeister’ with ‘Texthelp Study Skills’ by getting students to highlight keywords or concepts and then turn the resulting list of dot points into a mind-map! You can create multilevel mind-maps by simply adding indented dot points to you list.
This is what the mind-maps that you can create in MindMeister look like:
The final hour of the day was Kimberly Hall’s keynote, ‘Always Learning’. Kimberly started with an image of a PlaySkool toy phone that all of us have seen and no doubt played with when we were younger. She used the analogy of the changing complexity of mobile phone technology to explain how learning has changed from something quite simple to something now that provides us with access to so many things that are quite possibly beyond the realms of our imagination!
One key thing that came out of Kimberly’s keynote was perspective. Yes we are moving forward with technology, but what impact will that have on education? A beautiful video that she shared with us challenged each of us to change our perspective on students with special needs. Are they students with special needs or are they students with special talents?
I will have to admit here that after two massive days of learning, sharing, networking and presenting that I was pretty exhausted by this time so my mental capacity to retain information was pretty poor! Thankfully the world of Twitter and the #gafesummit hashtag will help to refresh my memory when I get around to going back through the Storify :)
Overall, the two days were another great opportunity to experience the wonderful world of GAFE and tech in general. I made lots of great contacts and learnt lots of new and exciting things that I have already been implementing in my classes in the first week of term. I would like to thank the Sydney CEO for giving me the opportunity to put forward my proposals to present and for providing a large number of other teachers with the opportunity to attend and learn in this great atmosphere.