September 17th and 18th 2011 Click here!
Over the weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop at YIS. One of the co-presenters was Chris Betcher – a leading technology educator from PLC, Sydney. Teachers from COETAIL as well as other teachers around this part of Japan gathered to learn together and share their wisdom. Personally, I love these weekends! Yes they are tiring and you do feel like you`ve missed your weekend when you are back at school on Monday morning, but the experience of being around like-minded educators, and experts sharing their knowledge. is exhilarating.
We began by exploring our web of connections.Who are you connected to? How do those connections work? Are you connected directly to others in this room?
Are you connected indirectly to others in this room?
How do your networks connect with the networks of others?
This was a good warm-up activity as we explored who we were connected to and HOW we have used technology to connect with our colleagues, friends and family. I zoned out a bit toward the end of the activity and wondered how people connected years ago. Letter? Rendezvous? Carrier-pigeon? Then, of course, my mind drifted to the majority of the world`s population who don’t have the tools that we take for granted now. Would their connections between their friends and family be stronger, or weaker, than those of us who use these modern connection tools daily? Hmm – food for thought….
In our next session we talked about an important topic – the concept of controlling information flow Using tools such as Google Reader or other types of RSS feeds enables students to be selective with, or filter, their information. I highly recommend watching this short video.. We were introduced to “bundling” (which I thought was a solely mathematical term) and shared our bundles with our fellow work-shoppers Social Bookmarking sites like Diigo were explored and is yet another tool that I am excited about but will need to investigate further.
I`m quite proud to say that, just two days ago, I was at the *Hmm, D`Arcy says it`s cool” stage of the Twitter life-cycle. However, after initiating my personal PLN (Personal Learning Network for you poor souls outside the loop), I can quite confidently say I am now at the “Wow, just found a great link from Vicki” stage. Twitter is a great professional resource for me. To discover more bout it`s usage with my Grade 3 students, I will need more inquiry time.
The following session we investigated Google Chrome – specifically its filters and Google Maps. Well, I thought I knew a lot about search engines however I was very surprised and happy with what I found out. Google Chrome has a reading level filter. Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. This is going to be fantastic for my third graders. Set the filter to Basic and now my 8 year olds will be able to read the information they find on the internet. Of course, nothing is entirely accurate however, it is a start. The voice and image recognition for searches is an interesting tool and I`m sure we will have a bit of fun with that. Just a word of warning in regard to the image search. I`ve found that if you put an image in that is not of a reasonably well known area, this causes the page to freeze. Collaborative Google Maps will definitely be used at some point soon. I can see my students plotting alternate evacuation routes in our “Are we prepared for a disaster?” UOI or finding the quickest route to our field trips. They will have great fun analysing and evaluating this tool. School management might also think of providing a shared map of the local area with places of interest, restaurants, supermarkets and the like for new families or staff.
There was a quick session of speed geeking (10 experts-ten tables..geeks share their problems or successes and invite advice or feedback within a five minute time frame then rotate) which was great fun and rewarding. It could have gone on longer but I feel the presenters were trying to keep to a time frame which is understandable.
Finally we looked at our collaborative connections.
Google Apps includes:
A good summarising video can be found here. I used Google Docs for collaborative projects with my class last year and had great success. However I feel that this session could have gone even longer as there was just so much we could find out. During my research yesterday, I discovered that Google have their own Google Teacher Academy. Perhaps I might apply one day….
Overall, the weekend was extremely enjoyable. Firstly to be surrounded by so many wonderful teachers/collaborators/friends..I thank them. Without these special workshops, I would definitely not be the teacher I am today. Kim and Chris, thank you for your expertise and patience. Organizing weekends are never easy but if there were any problems or mishaps, they were undetectable. I can honestly say I am excited now about what the remaining school year holds. Embarking on this course, is the best thing I`ve done professionally since I first came to Japan more than nine years ago.