My iPad Workshop
Download my workshop handout here.
Find all the iPad lesson resources here.
See some tweets from our session from Jennifer here and here. And Jorge's here.
Photos from Sessions
Leading and Learning in Digital Age
Keynote by George Couros
George Couros is the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for a school district in Canada. He took the stage on Friday morning to encourage the ICE conference attendees to embrace the opportunities the digital world offers our young students. He showed a variety of examples of good, bad, moving, and funny uses of social media and tied their messages to how we look at schools, our role as educators, and the needs of children. George began by telling personal stories about his family’s journey as risk takers as they made a life in Canada after moving from Greece. His dad was the first to buy a VHS camera and VCR to capture childhood moments on video. Even though he was from an older generation he had an attitude that allowed him to adapt, grow, and learn all his life long. As teachers and administrators in the schools today, George asked if we are afraid of change. If so, we should be even more afraid of irrelevancy as we tell students to put away their devices and turn to page 50 of their textbooks. We need to embrace the changes and “Be More Dog.”
Much of what George shared was the potential for connection, relationship, and a sense of humanity found from harnessing the power of social media. He showed a photo of the Pope taking a selfie with admirers. He gave examples of young bloggers and kids telling their stories on YouTube. These kids were using their communication skills because they were connecting and finding meaning in writing, publishing, and creating content for a real audience, yet schools still block these networks. He continued to say that kids need to know their voices matter.
Isolation, these days, is a choice you make. Schools need to go where the kids and families are to connect with them. George showed examples of video newsletters, telling stories through video to reach families, and creating online digital portfolios for student work. Learning and sharing are synonymous. Personal learning networks make everyone smarter so schools should model how this works. He summed up his keynote with, “The biggest game changer is an educator that thinks differently and is willing to grow.”
There were many tweets about George’s keynote highlighting his quotable quips and the many takeaways. Some that I jotted down were:
-If you don’t allow devices in school you are saying you don’t trust the kids
-Don’t want to have to drop out of school to do what you love (creativity despite the educational system)
-Are schools teaching for yesterday or tomorrow?
-Are your computers actually $1000 pencils?
-Adapting to change is not a skillset. It’s a mindset.
-Technology does not equal engagement.
-If you think the internet is just a place to look up stuff, you are missing the best part.
Here is a storyify collection.
The keynote was live streamed and will be posted here.
Here is a link to more information about George Couros.
Friday, February 28
Involving Parents in the Process of Learning
by George Couros
In this breakout session George Couros states that parent involvement is the number one factor for student success. His goal is to break down the road blocks to parent involvement by sharing success stories and strategies for bridging this gap. One thing you want to hear from parents is “My kids have it better now than I had it when I was their age,” (rather than the reverse). Start communicating through the children and their learning to reach the parents. This will change the conversation from,
Parent: “What did you do at school today?
…to something more specific and meaningful.
Parent: “I saw on your teacher’s twitter feed that you are learning about electricity. Tell me about your experiment.”
George had a video made to promote the learning and culture of his school for the parents to view on the website. The video was full of children sharing their dreams for their future contribution, occupation, or hope. It had nothing to do with test scores and data. It went BEYOND this to address the whole person and his/her potential. It made you want to go to this school and be a child in a warm and welcoming place where you can grow into a good person as you explore and learn.
George shared some examples of negative uses of social media. This lead to a discussion on the need to teach students what TO DO online not just what not to do. He called it digital leadership. He spoke of helping children build a positive digital footprint so that they will have an advantage or more opportunities when they’re ready to begin their career. It would be very impressive to Google a 22 year old and see their educational reflective blog posts from 6th grade, their community service video from 11th grade, and their webpage/digital portfolio from their college years. If students and parents can learn to harness Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs for connecting and finding meaning then all the skills of reading, writing, communicating, reflecting, debating, inferring, empathizing, and more can be practiced in an authentic and motivating arena.
George told the audience about his open approach to managing a school that allowed parents to participate in the learning, research, conversation, and discussion. He gave an example that when they wanted to reconsider the school policy of giving student awards, they began an open discussion online. They posted articles to read about how this practice was detrimental to students that both receive awards and don’t receive awards. Teachers and administrators were able to share their ideas openly and parents could read and join in as well. When they changed the policy to eliminate awards there was no uproar, surprises, or backlash. Everyone had followed the discussion and understood the research so change happened swiftly and smoothly.
One story George shared demonstrated the rigidity of schools. An 8 year old public school student began a blog about her school lunches. She took a photo everyday of what she was served and wrote a review. She complained about portion sizes, taste, finding hairs, and other things that were not pleasant about her meals. She grew a following and began using her popularity to raise money (over $100K) to build a cafeteria for a school in Malawi. Eventually she gained the attention of the news media. The school was first alerted to the blog when they were asked by the news media for an interview. It alarmed them so much they censored her work.
This little girl was writing, publishing, connecting with a global audience, and doing good for others across the globe…and her school tried to quiet her voice and limit her access.
George ended his talk by saying, “ We don’t just want kids to be good in school. We want them to be amazing people right now.”
My Plan for Change
(How to be a great speaker)
One of the main things I hoped to learn from watching the keynote speaker and attending other sessions is how to be an effective presenter and speaker. I tried to not take in the message as passively as I usually would. I tried to think about what strategies the speaker is using to engage the audience, keep the energy, pace the talk, make us laugh, and feel overall inspired. As I went through the twitter feed from George Couros’ keynote, I found appreciative shout outs, quotes he had so cleverly articulated, and this tweet (above) from Michelle Russell. She noted that George was showing us himself. I am certain he did this intentionally. He began with photos of his family, told stories of his life growing up, helped us make connections with his Greek past and where he lives now in Canada. He told us he doesn’t have children but is close to his brother’s kids. He mentioned that his Dad has recently died and he may cry when he refers to him, so he kept Kleenex on hand. He also shared though out his feelings and reactions to the videos and images in his presentation. He told us he loves dogs, photography, and lets kids hug him as long as they need. He never lets go first.
There was plenty of laughter too. I personally laughed so hard I cried a few times with his simple quips of self-effacing humor, side notes, and off topic silly mentions of Justin Bieber. But, then again, I wanted to tear up with the touching and sweet things he shared as well. My emotions were skyrocketing in every direction. This made the keynote even more engaging. I am much more likely to pack information in my long-term memory when it is connected with strong emotions. What a wonderful strategy!
The pacing of the talk was very energetic and fluid. George seemed to know exactly what slide would be next when he pressed his remote clicker and walked around the stage wearing a wireless microphone. He moved his body around the stage and carried the topics seamlessly from slide to slide without hesitation. He must have practiced. He had his wording so right and his thoughts so clear that he was simply telling us a story and not playing show and tell. He would pause at times to show us a video clip, but only as much of the clip as needed to share his story. Sometimes the audio was turned off so that he could talk over it. Almost every video was paused at one point either to introduce it or to get us to refocus and apply a new idea to what we were viewing. This engaged us and/or created more anticipation.
His slides were simple. No fancy transitions, no layers of images, no text running around the screen, no tables of data, or graphs demonstrating growth. He managed his media elegantly as well. His visual choices were clean, like the black slide with a quote is white. He played a VHS video clip in a digital format, he showed tradition photo prints digitally, he blocked out personal information from people to protect their identity. I’m taking note of this because I tend to put bells and whistles in my presentation. I think it is because I don’t want to have to rely on my personality to entertain the audience. This is what I think I need to really learn. Sharing who I am and showing my personality, may be the best thing I can offer the audience when I present because I certainly appreciated George Couros sharing who he is with all of us during the ICE conference.