Saturday, February 28, 2015

#ICE15 Recap

I don't know about you, but after attending conferences for more than a day I get..
1. extremely excited to try new things
2. completely exhausted from late nights and packing my brain
3. Already thinking about how I can improve my presentations for next year

This year, I was extremely lucky to attend our Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) conference not one, but three days! Next to being surprised and attending ISTE in 2014 for multiple days, this comes in 2nd with my longest consecutive conference attended. I can tell you one thing, I will definitely be looking into hotels for next year. Even being local, with not a huge commute, it still adds into the exhaustion with traffic.

There were many great topics that I absorbed and many great people I was able to catch up with and meet.  One of the workshops I liked the most was "Coaching Teachers to Student Success," by @avrarobinson. If you haven't heard from her yet, find her on Twitter. Her coaching resources are amazing and the personalities she created for first timer technology integrated teachers are spot on. Lots of handy tips to help along the way when working to build a partnership with educators.

The maker movement is still going strong. There were many hands on activities and sessions to learn about coding, robotics and engineering. I'm sure this is something that won't fade out anytime soon. Passion based learning is truly important and I wish I had that opportunity in school.  Sylvia Martinez was a keynote speaker and a true inspiration. I also very much enjoyed Jim Sill, who gave a very thought provoking keynote using his past experience in film.

Another area I personally reflected on was my break-out session, of course. Now, I'm normally used to presenting in smaller classroom setups, where maybe 10-15 people attend and it is an easy walk-through in 45 minutes for my augmented reality topic. Well...I definitely wasn't expecting to be presenting in a comedy club, with a room full of educators! While I experienced some technology bumps from this first time larger are some tips I can offer and suggestions I plan to follow myself.

1. Have a backup plan: the wireless connection wasn't allowing for my reflector app to work from iPad to laptop. Either purchase VGA connects to have on hand or check with your district if there is one you can barrow. Luckily I had one for each device.

2. Stick to your backup plan: While my reflector didn't work, I had planned on using my VGA connector for the iPad. Well, the nerves got the best of me and I presented from my computer the entire time. I definitely regret that.

3. Keep your audience in mind: Speaking to a larger group was quite the surprise. What was a very successful PD that I had practiced in advanced at local education camps, would need to be simplified for a larger group. I had so many materials with me that I didn't even use and felt like I was going too fast.

4. Be proud of your accomplishment: While things may have not gone perfectly, still take pride in what you have done, especially if it was your first time hosting a session of this scale. Reflect on your experience and try again. We always tell our students to learn from their mistakes, so why not follow the same advice?

Thanks to those who attended my workshop and shared your experience on Twitter! Also, a big thank you to my district team, both past and present for supporting me!

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3-D! Week 1

Some of the schools in my district were surprised with a new addition to our labs...

Have you guessed what it is yet? We have a 3D printer! Under the cloth is a very lovely, MakerBot Replicator Mini!

Immediately, the gears in my brain began turning to develop a plan for integration into my technology class. I was constantly pondering what grade level I would use it with and where would I even begin, but I finally decided to introduce this to my 4th grade students first since my 5th grade groups would be starting innovation lab first.

I began researching and came across some links posted to Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything. Kathy has listed tons of resources that can definitely get someone started in the right direction. However, one of the challenges I began to face was that no matter where I searched, mostly all of lessons or project ideas that I would stumble upon were for jr. high students or higher, not for elementary. So in order to organize my ideas better, I began pulling ideas and resources that I found into a document. Now, I'm definitely a lesson plan as you go individual, just because I will constantly think of new ideas in the car, on a run or I will stumble upon something on social media. Although, one of my main reasons that I don't lesson plan far in advance is because my students are constantly surprising me with their knowledge on topics or willingness to go look information up between classes so they can be prepared.

So, after gathering my resources and knowing this tool was probably new to most. I decided to begin my introduction to 4th grade with a mystery "what's our fragile futuristic tool?" activity. Once the tool was guessed, we began drawing what we thought a 3D printer looked like. That lead into a big discussion until it was finally unveiled and followed by a fun Kahoot survey to see what students may have known.

This activity took up our entire technology time and definitely left the students excited to come back and learn more!