A More Beautiful Question Sketchnote

After reading the first chapter of “A More Beautiful Question” by Warren Berger I have been trying to figure out how to blog about it. Then I was in the library and our librarian was preparing a lesson on Sketchnoting for the kids. I picked up The Sketchnote Handbook and started reading. Before I knew it I was on Chapter 4! Then it hit me, I could sketchnote the first chapter!

So if you click on the picture above you will see what I took from the chapter. It has been several weeks since I read it, but thankfully I had marked passages very well to remind myself what I wanted to remember.

One of the things that I really liked is that idea that people with “questioning” minds see change as an adventure. That resonated with me because I am that is how I see most change.

I also loved the graph that pointed out that with the rise of technology allowing the answers to questions to be easier to obtain, the value of knowing those answers is decreasing and the value of asking good questions is increasing. I think that this is really what the PYP is trying to instill in our students.

The other thing that stuck with me is that if we give the brain time to think, it will usually find solutions and “Aha moments”. One thing that I personally have experienced is that there are people who see my processing speed as a detriment to this. They think that I am not giving my brain time. What they don’t realize is that I do give my brain time to think, but my brain needs less time than theirs. It doesn’t mean that my ideas are less developed it just means that I process faster. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to process and think it through and develop it. – Sorry bit of a rant there!

One other thing was the Questions + Action = Innovation. The action being an equal component to the questions. Asking good questions is great but if you don’t take any action then what are you really doing?

European Google Apps for Education Summit

This past weekend I was lucky enough to present a session at the European Google Apps for Education Summit. 

I presented a beginner level session on getting started with Google Docs in the primary classroom.  It was just the basics of Google Docs with a bit about how I introduce it to students as well as ideas for how to use Docs. 

I was a bit worried when I first started that the session was too basic, but when teachers started asking me follow up questions I realized that for at least some in the room, it was exactly where it needed to be. 

I received good feedback when I finished from several teachers who thanked me, saying that they had never been shown the basics and they were glad that I did a session on it. Luckily for them it was the first session of the day as well so they were able to get off to a good start. 

The rest of the weekend was a great networking weekend for me. There was a large group from Munich who I had met at the ECIS Tech conference. It was nice to see people again, reconnect and share ideas. 

Overall it was a great weekend and as this is my third presenting session, it has encouraged me to apply for more of them in the future. I have had a great time doing them and I hope that teachers had a great time learning in them. 

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!

Student Helpers in Teacher PD Session

The PD went well today.  I was able to have four of my Geek Squad attend.  They videoed, took pictures, presented and helped teachers.  They were a great hit and were amazingly good sports!

We started with the boys showing the teachers how to back up their iPads to the iClouds. They were also a great help showing the teachers how to reflect their iPads.  We then moved to Sue McCluskey showing the teachers how she uses the app Pocket to store articles and websites that she finds on Twitter to read later.  We then moved on to show how web links could be created and distributed to teachers and students through the iPads. The next app was the Cloud Spotter app.  Jude Vaughan shared her love of clouds with the teachers to show them how we can use our iPads for very personal reasons instead of always school, school, school!

Then Louise Day stood up and showed how she uses Class Dojo in her class to track the healthy snacks that her students bring for their morning snack.  I then talked about how I use Twitter as my personal learning network.  I gave them a very brief overview and showed them how I use pocket when I am in twitter to save articles.  I also shared with them a few of the people that I follow on twitter.  (@caryghart, @Facespics, @mumbaimaggie, @acsintschools,  @SuzanneMcClusk1,  @sherrattsam, @whatedsaid)

We then moved to Lauren Dean sharing how the grade five students apply for apps that they would like all of grade 5 to have. Then back to Jude Vaughan to show Apps Gone Free. This is a great app that occasionally has some very useful education apps.

After all of this we had 15 minutes for teachers to explore one of these in more detail.  This gave the teachers a chance to really look at one of these in more depth and detail. It also gave the Geek Squad boys a chance to help individual teachers get logged into Drive and solve other issues with their iPads. Out of these break out sessions we managed to get at least one self proclaimed “technophobe” on Twitter!  Go Jenny!

Teacher PD

Tomorrow I am holding a teacher PD session for the lower school teachers.  I am going to structure it in a similar way to a TeachMeet.  So there will be 10 apps/programs introduced in two to seven minute presentations.  Then at the end there will be two mini breakout sessions where teachers can  learn more about one of the apps that has been introduced.

I originally had about 15 things to introduced but I have cut it back so that hopefully it won’t be too much all at once.  The focus is not an in-depth look at these apps/programs but more of a quick look.  Then if the teachers want to know more they can go to the break out sessions or come to see me later to have a more detailed session.

One part that I am very excited about is that at least 4 of my Geek Squad will be there.  The Geek Squad is an after school club that I am running for grades three through five.  We are looking at computers, ways to help teachers and students and programming.  The students in the club are having a great time spending an hour with me once a week while we talk about coding and computers and all things tech. When I asked if anyone could help out, several offered to skip their Wednesday activities to come to the meeting!