"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school" ~ Albert Einstein
My last post focused on two of the keynote addresses at ECOO 13. They were engaging and uplifting to say the least. But ECOO 13 was much more than great keynotes. There were hundreds of sessions scattered over the 3 days in lovely Niagara Falls. This post focuses on the sessions that I was lucky enough to attend. I must first give a huge shout out to the organizing committee and in particular Doug Peterson and Cyndie Jacobs for putting together an amazing selection of sessions. It was so hard to choose which sessions to attend, they were all so enticing. Below are my thoughts and reflections on the sessions I attended.
Using Technology in Innovative Ways - Karen Lirenman (@KLirenman)
When I was browsing the Lanyrd mobile app trying to decide which sessions to attend I couldn't believe that Karen was coming all the way from British Columbia to present. There was no way I was going to miss what she had to say. Unfortunately for her at the beginning of her session the technology in the room was letting her down, but to her credit she soldiered on until tech support arrived. She was calm and cool in the midst of the troubles and began to tell her story well. She outlined how she uses blogging, Skype and Twitter in her class to engage students in activities across the curriculum in the following ways:
- Mystery Skype - guess a number with students using only yes/no answers
- Class Blog - a place for families to "peak" into the classroom
- Shared Reading - using comments from blog posts (love this!)
- Twitter - creating tweets as if they were characters in the book
Karen ended her session with an example video from the EduSlam series she took part in. You can view her EduSlam on Twitter in the Elementary Classroom here.
Key learning for me: Using blog comments for shared reading. A great example of authentic, 21st century method of literacy instruction.
Beats and Buds in the Classroom - Royan Lee (@royanlee)
Royan is someone I have admired from afar. He writes a excellent blog called The Spicy Learning Blog that is insightful, entertaining and compelling. His session at ECOO was one that intrigued me because I often used music in my classroom, especially in the gym when I taught Physical Education. I used music mainly as a management tool and I wanted to see how Royan used it in his class. His session was a mix of information and practical examples of how he embeds music into his classroom. I loved how we weren't sitting passively listening to him talk. He involved us as if we were his class. Here are the ways he uses music in his class:
- during independent thinking/working
- during milling and moving
- during conversations
- during physical activity
- getting pumped up
- for winding down
Royan created a Google site where he offered many resources for educators looking to use music in their classroom. A wealth of information for everyone.
Key learning for me: Music has a powerful effect on the students, and a great way to engage and motivate them. Jamaican dub is a genre of music I hadn't heard of before the session. After experiencing it first hand during his session it could be one of my favourites!
Social Reading - Doug Peterson (@dougpete)
After I presented on Engaging Student Voice with Video Announcements I rushed over to Doug's session on Social Reading. I've known Doug since my days as a learning technologies coordinator. I've blogged about Doug in the past about how his tweets and blog influence educators across the province. The reason his session appealed to me was the reading and sharing flow he developed and the tools he used. I also love how much he shares, and it came across nicely in his session. Doug shared many of the tools that he uses on a daily basis like Diigo, Zite and few I hadn't heard of like NewSquares and Alltop. It's always great learning about new tools but most impressive about Doug's session was his 5 Call to Action items:
- read more, learn more, share more
- engage with others who are sharing
- get and stay in touch
- spread the word
- please stay in touch
Doug engaged the audience and asked those in attendance to share their thoughts about social reading and if they had anything to add to the conversation. It was nice of him to acknowledge other active Tweeps who share like @GingerPatti, myself and @cordym, and to ask us to add anything he may have missed. The reality was Doug covered it all!
Key learning for me: Beyond the new tools for accessing and sharing great links and resources was the message to engage and share with others. Too often I get caught up in simply sharing things that I think others will find value in without thinking about the connection with those that follow me. This is my new goal. Thanks Doug!
The last session I was able to attend before checking out of the hotel and heading back to London was with Andrew and Jennifer. I follow both on Twitter and enjoy reading Andrew's blog, his periodic columns in the Toronto Star and his humours tweets (Don't boo, it's not Canadian, was a classic at ECOO). Jennifer brings a wealth of knowledge in design thinking and someone I would like to build a school with. The start of their session was the most unique of all the sessions I attended. They started with a Mystery Skype. I was excited because I had only heard of the concept and never seen it in action. After a tentative start from the audience we finally got into the swing of it and after 14 questions discovered Andrew's friend Chuck was living in Egypt. After the Mystery Skype Andrew and Jennifer outlined different ways that technology can break down the walls of your classroom or school. They included:
- promoting student voice, integration and inquiry
- helping to form unusual partnerships
- blogging outside a walled garden
- using Google Art to connect to museums and artwork that students might never get to see in person
- using Google Street View to allow students to see place they may never get to visit
Andrew shared how his class connected with the author Eric Walter's through Twitter during his walk across Kenya for orphans in that country and how his class is now embarking on a re-branding project for the city of Brantford. Great examples of breaking down the walls of his classroom through the use of technology.
Key learning for me: Showing and supporting teachers at my school examples of using technology to form unusual partnerships is something I want to promote more often as I know it will engage students. Thanks for the tip on Google Art and the #dtk12 Twitter chat!
Beyond the great sessions and keynotes it was great to finally meet some great people I follow on Twitter like @avivaloca, @mraspinall, @cubeforteachers and @klirenman. It made the conference even better to make those personal connections. I would love to hear your thoughts on the sessions you attended at ECOO 13, or about your experiences at any conference.