ECIS Tech Conference 2015 – part 2

Day 1:

Here are some of the things that I took away from day one.  I will be spending more time thinking these out but I wanted to get my initial thoughts down.

3D Sculpting using 123D Sculpt:
Could a unit in Art be replaced with this app? Could this be a way to present another aspect of the skills needed for sculpting? This would be a great way for the LS kids to get their first taste of the school’s 3D printer. This is also a good way to bring in peer feedback in an art environment.

Blogging by: Tricia Friedman @FriedEnglish101
Tricia gave me some great ideas for people to follow on twitter. Her presentation also helped me with to stock up on good validations for why blogging has a place in the classroom environment. I like her idea of hosting an outside guest on the blog. She also share with us the Write Now project for a way to publish writing within your school.  I want to look participating Blog Action Day with the blogs that we will have next year. I also liked the idea of micro quad-blogging, and think that might be a very good way to raise the profile in the school and within grades without adding too much pressure. I also love the idea of having students share their iTime inquiries on the blog.

Becoming a Google Educator and Google Education Trainer:
This session interested me because I have done a certificate with Google to become a “certified individual”. I found out that they have not changed the name to Google Educator and that my certificate is probably no longer valid. I also learned that I can pretty easily apply to become a Trainer which is something that I am very interested in doing. One of the presenters was from Apps Events which is a company that partners with schools to hold weekend workshops and training camps. This is definitely something that I am going to suggest to our school. 

Slam Sessions:
From the afternoon slam sessions I have the following things which I want to look into!
Appear.in – allows Skype like chats with no sign up
Holler Gram – might be a fun way for kids to interact in class
Slides Carnival – need more than the google slides templates offer?
Google Keep – how could this be used by students?
Video Notes – how could this be used by students?
Sharing a “Work” folder each week with parents using google Drive.

Coetail Meetup:
After we got back to the hotel I found out that there was going to be a meet up of all of the delegates who were associated with Coetail. I have been interested in looking into this for a while, so I asked if I could come and ask questions. Turns out that there were four of us there asking questions! This is another thing that I am going to seriously consider doing.  I am thinking that there has to be a way for all three UK campuses to come together to create a cohort. 

ECIS Tech Conference 2015 – part 3

Day 2

Sunday started out with the World Virtual Schools project
Which was started by the State Department as a way for schools to carry on learning if their physical site was unavailable due to natural disaster, political unrest, disease or any other reason. It is run in a way that if a school was to close, the kids in that school could join classes in other schools to continue their education, so it has a different purpose to a Virtual Learning System within a school. The assumption is that if the kids are disrupted then the teachers probably are as well. 

Out of this has come a collaboration of schools in a variety of ways. One of which is the iOlympiad. This is where a student can compete virtually with students from around the world in a sport that is not offered at his/her school.  

Thinking More Deeply into Tech Integration in the IB:
This was my next stop for the day which is a project that has come from an online group started by the IB. There was an email sent out about a year ago asking if anyone was interested in joining a discussion about tech integration in the IB. So far that group has been the most active that the IB has ever had. Out of that group has come a guideline for thinking about tech integration when planning IB curriculum in any division. Pilar @pilarqibo walked us through the basics then asked us to plan a unit with the new approach in mind. It was a good session though it was too short! I am definitely taking this back to my PYP Coordinator to show her an possibly introduce it to our staff.  

Lastly I attended a session on teaching coding with Vivian @chezvivian. She gave me some good ideas for ways that I could engage my Coding club in more “organized” coding activities.  

On the bus back to the train station I even had a mini presentation from Jessica who was presenting for Kiva. I knew about Kiva from a friend who put it on Facebook quiet a few years back but it was nice to meet someone who worked for them, who could answer a few questions for me. 

ECIS Tech Conference 2015 – part 1

So the conference started out with a bit of a bang for me as can be seen by reading my blog post from my travel blog! But I made it to the conference. On Saturday morning we got up and had breakfast and the networking began. 

It is very strange to be in a place with people who you have to have a conversation in your head that goes like this, about. “That person is familiar. Hmm, do I know that person, yep definitely familiar. Now have I actually met that person in real life or have I seen them on Twitter or Facebook. Hmm, not sure, well I will just go introduce myself and find out!”

The keynote was given by Kim Cofino @mscofino. She spoke for an hour the ideas were already beginning to flow. When she made the point that education needs to have students learn with technology the way that students live with technology, I got it. It is what I have been encouraging in my training and teaching but the way she put it made me realize how much further we can go with our tech in our school. 

I liked her ideas of student-led speed geeking, thinking about ways to bring social online learning to school, thinking of ways to bring in media rich reflections and keeping things “just in time”.  

Another idea that came to me during her presentation is what would happen if the school replaced one bulletin board in each room with an interactive screen of some kind? Not just in the classrooms but in the hallways as well. Not all of the boards by any means because there is still a very large place for fixed boards, but if you could have one interactive screen that streamed videos, images, books, or slides in your room, how would that change the way students see the value in their work output?


ECIS Tech Conference 2015 – My First Time Presenting

After being encouraged at the ECIS Annual conference to apply to present at the Tech conference, I did and was accepted. This would be my first ever time presenting at a large conference. I have taught teachers in my school, but never in this type of environment. I have to say that the participants of the ECIS Tech Conference were great.

My first presentation was on my Geek Squad which is my after school techie club. I worked on getting myself ready for this by putting some images on a slide show, but really I planned on just talking about my Geeks and what we do. I made sure that my slides were simple and had very little words as I hate sitting through slide shows where I could have been emailed the presentation. The presentation went well and a few people asked questions, but I wasn’t really sure how it went when I was asked later by my colleagues.

Later that night at the social, though, two different people come up to me and asked me further questions and said how they were going to try some of my ideas. I have to say that, even if only two people who took something away that they could use, I am happy.  They had looks on their faces that made me think of the way that I am when I get ideas to take back with me. 

My second presentation was more hands on. I taught the group that came how to use Chatterpix Kids, Puppet Pals and Book Creator. I first gave them a brief overview of the apps, then I set them a task to complete with the app. My aim was that at the end of the session they would actually have used the app and know how to do the basics. I was able to achieve that within the time and have a bit of time at the end to show them how I have used the apps in classes as well as answer questions. This was a much more active session with teachers asking me questions along the way, which was more relaxing! I even managed applause at the end!

I even had a bit of a discussion with a guy at the end about how his wife could use Puppet Pals in Pre-Kinder. I told him that I had a group using it right now and that you just have to take it step by step and build on each step with them.  They get it and they can do it but they need time and practice. 

Just yesterday I received a tweet from a teacher telling me that she used Chatterpix in a class. Again if only one teacher takes something away that makes me happy. 

ECIS Annual Conference

This weekend I was able to attend the ECIS Annual Conference in Nice, France.  This was my first time at the conference. I have to say that I am very glad that I was able to go. For me this was a very validating experience. This is the first time that I have been to a big conference, and I felt like “Yep, we are in the right place and heading in the right direction.” 

While at the conference one of the things that I did was to sit on a panel for a roundtable discussion about the role of IT in the IB curriculum. I was a bit worried when I looked at the names of the other panelists, three heads of IT at big schools and a Vice Principal at another, then little ol’ me! I was very pleased though to have been able to answer all of the questions with confidence.  

We had a very small audience which allowed us to answer questions and ask questions of them as well. We even had the Curriculum Manager of Online Learning at International Baccalaureate on Google Hangouts while we had our discussion to listen in and comment about what we were saying.  


During the rest of the conference I attended a great maker workshop by Francesca Zammarano @fzammarano who teaches for the United Nations International School and has created a great maker space called the CoLaboratory. She got me thinking about some projects that I could do with my Geek Squad and how my nephew would have loved to have her in his school to teach!

I decided to stay until the very last session for a workshop called “Putting Cool Tech in the Hands of Students” and boy, am I glad that I did! I met Dan Reedy @Reedy Dan works at the Leysin American School in Switzerland and has an after school coding club. He showed us some of the stuff that he has done with those kids and some of the ways that they have approached running the club. It has given me the courage to go ahead and offer a coding club after school next semester along with my Geek Squad.  

He showed us the website for Treehouse which he uses with his kids to get them interested in coding.  I have already emailed them and asked about the ages that their site is designed for.  

Over all it was a great conference and has given me the courage to ask for permission to present at the ECIS Tech Conference in March in Munich!  Stay tuned to find out if I get to go!

Community Trumps Content

I was first introduced to Jeff Utecht at the ECIS Tech conference in March 2013.  Since then I have kept track of him, through twitter.  I happened to revisit his website recently and saw this video on the bottom of the page.  http://youtu.be/S8djV8slDN0  After watching it I got to thinking about what he was saying.  Then I checked the date.

I was shocked to find that the keynote was given in Bangkok 3 years ago!  3 years, wow was all I could think.  How accurate he was then and how relevant he still is today.  After a bit more thinking (I’m not straining myself, promise!)  I considered the student body of the school I am teaching at now. Do I need to reconsider how I think about their understanding of technology and what they expect technology to deliver to them.

Then this past weekend I supervised a group of kids at a debate tournament.  While there I took the deck of cards from the table and began playing solitaire.  One of the kids asked me what game I was playing.  I said solitaire, to which she sort of went “humm”.

I said “What, have you never seen solitaire?”

She responded, “Yes, but not like that.”

That made me pause and then I realised that she had never seen anyone play solitaire with actual cards and that made me think back to this video.

It is time for teachers to start changing their understanding of the world that kids are growing up in and consider the possibilities for the future.

I am still thinking about all of this and still trying to wrap my head around it so that I can help the teachers in my lower school understand it.