George Couros @GCouros delivered the keynote today and then did a Professional Development and PLN breakout session. He gave a beautiful speech, showing his passion for education. His visuals were fantastic, and his care and concern for the audience is the same as his tweets.
Here is something I took away. In his school division in Canada they practice narrowing their focus on three things for three years. Everyone learns these three things really well. Some people might go on to learn other tools, and that’s great, but it is not required. Three years-three things.
Another thing he spoke about is the importance of claiming your Twitter account and the Twitter hashtag that makes sense for your school. I had never really thought about the importance of the hashtag. If you don’t claim it and start using it you might find some day some very surprising tweets that reflect badly on your school made by some cheeky students.
Another great idea I got from George today is the idea of naming your standards as categories when you blog. He has seven standards he is supposed to be meeting in his work. So every time he blogs he asks himself what evidence is the post providing that he is meeting one of the seven standards, and puts the post under that category.
Oh, and one last thing. I love this! Each graduating student in his division is given their domain name for one year, as a graduation present, and then they can make the decision to continue paying for it in the future. How cool is that?
After rushing about for three days from one great session to another, learning good things from fast talking educators who didn’t have enough time in their sessions to tell you everything they wanted to share in the short time available (whew!) I entered the zen classroom. Well, OK, the session was titled Using Different Web Tools to Engage Students Through Literacy. Joe Fezzuoglio, who has the title of Health Teacher, centered us by speaking calmly, making sure nobody was lost within the tool he was demonstrating, and pausing every now and then as though there was no hurry. Still he managed to get us through all he wanted to cover: Animoto, Glogster, Google Apps, Poll Everywhere, Quia and VoiceThread. He housed all this in a Schoology learning management system. What I loved about this session, was the visuals he showed us of the work he does with each tool as a demonstration for his students. Naturally his students all want to do a better job than he does, and since his work is pretty darn good they have to work pretty darn hard to one-up him. This session offered a lot.
All the educators enjoyed the student panel who told us about the Chromebooks from their point of view. Several questions were asked by the audience and answered by the panel regarding printing, teachers and students being faced with learning about the Chromebooks at the same time, administration of the Chromebooks, how adding Hapara during the second semester was so helpful for everyone, and how surprised they were that a teacher away at a conference could look into their open tabs, send them messages about their work, and generally check in on how they were progressing. Oh, and don’t forget teachers, be organized! Don’t make students search for their homework assignments.
It was so good of these students to sit on the panel, and then wait in line to wish us well at the end of the day.
Way to go Leyden. Thanks so much for a great three days. Go Eagles!