Last Friday, the Bedford School District hosted its second annual Future Ready Conference where over 100 sessions were offered by its own staff as well as a few outside presenters. This day reminded me yet again at how fortunate we are that our district is willing to provide an opportunity for all staff members in the district to get together in one place to learn and share ideas with each other. We modeled our day off of Medfield's Digital Learning Day - thanks again Neal for the inspiration!
Most importantly, I am also proud and thankful that we have a staff who are willing to take the time, out of their already busy lives, to share their own experiences and knowledge on particular concepts/tools/ideas. Let's face it, our day would not be as successful if we didn't have staff who were willing to go above and beyond to put together engaging sessions to inspire others. What I think is also cool is that we had a couple of sessions where students were presenting to our staff, thanks to the National Honor Society and DECA students. Hands down, this staff development day is by far my favorite as we all get together to not only learn from one other but to also support one another. Below, I have curated some tweets to highlight #sau25discovers.
On another note, if you are inspired to try something new in your classroom and you would like assistance or want to talk things through, you know where to find me. And that is my spiel...
Over the past couple of weeks, we have had students experience learning with the help of Google Expeditions. Both students and teachers alike enjoyed the opportunity to learn curriculum through a different medium than they have in the past. (We are very fortunate that our school is able to share a mobile cart of phones with our middle school to be able to explore different virtual reality applications in the classroom).
Field Trip to Greece Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis (and later Mr. Woodhead and Mrs. Devito) were thrilled to know that Google Expeditions had a Greece tour for their Freshmen humanities students to experience. Based on some reading and class activities that they had already experienced in previous classes, Mrs. Cooney was able to reinforce concepts about the Acropolis and other important Greece facts with two different tours. Google Expeditions provided an opportunity to see the Acropolis from a bird eye view.
Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis also took it to the next level by having students run their own virtual tour by walking through the Acropolis using Sites in VR app. Students were able to experience the actual location through a series of 7 different 360 images. It was great for students to be able to 'walk through' at their own pace to make their own observations.
Mrs. Frizzle in 2017
When Mrs. Morrissey found out that Google Expeditions had a tour of the digestive system, she knew right away that she needed to implement it in her IB Biology II SL course this year. She had told the students that as a kid, she always enjoyed watching the Magic School Bus shows, especially the episode of when the school bus brought the students through the digestive system of a body. To think that now Mrs. Morrissey is the 'new' Mrs. Frizzle!
I thought it was clever with how Mrs. Morrissey used the app. In other situations, teachers have had students participate in an expedition and then completed other tasks. Mrs. Morrissey instead started the expedition of going into the mouth and esophagus. Then the students took off the headsets and together the class took some notes. Then, the students put on the headsets again for Mrs. Frizzle, I mean Mrs. Morrissey, to walk them through the stomach, etc. So rather than taking notes first and exploring second, the students explored around the particular part of the digestive system, then they took notes. This idea was a great way of breaking up notes.
Some people might say, well Craig, do you need virtual reality in order to help students understand the geography of a place? Can't you show an image through the projector and accomplish the same thing? My answer to that question is you do not need virtual reality to teach. However, it can be a great opportunity to integrate with curriculum if done thoughtfully. If you are curious how Google Expeditions, or other virtual reality apps, can be used in your classroom, you know where to find me.
Document cameras have been around for a while now - it certainly is not new technology. However, this past week has reminded me, yet again, how document cameras can serve different purposes. Yes, I know the typical situation where a teacher places a piece of paper on the desk and uses a document camera to project the paper on the wall. This way students can follow along with filling out the piece of paper. But how can you take this simple device and take it to the next level. (Again, keep in mind that these examples are not new, earth shattering ideas).
Mrs. Lederhos, our ceramics teacher, used the IPEVO document camera for the first time last week. She was explaining how it was hard for her whole class to look over her shoulders when she wanted to demonstrate a technique with pinch pots. She asked if she could try out a document camera to see if it would help improve the way she showcased techniques. We set her up with the document camera and things could not work any better. To the left, is a picture of her set up. Now, Mrs. Lederhos is able to demonstrate techniques in wide screen on the front of the room. I also like how she has placed the document camera on a rotating stand. This can help her with making sure that the document camera is in the right place as well as give the document camera more height. I was also impressed with how clear the picture quality was coming through during demonstration, even though there was constant movement.
Mrs. Hogan, our Photography teacher, has also found the document camera to be very helpful when needing to show her Photography students how to check settings on their digital camera prior to taking pictures. Again, she solved a situation of needing everyone in the class to see the steps rather than having to show each individual student.
Over the past couple of years, I have helped teachers create short screencasts. Teachers have created these screencasts for different purposes. However, I have had in the back of my mind that screencasts must be done with content created on a computer screen. This is not the case!
A friend of mine, Ms. Drake, who happens to be a math teacher, shared with me a visual with what she accomplished. The picture spoke to me as it made me realize that a teacher does not need to have everything electronic in order to screencast. She had her document camera connected to her laptop. She used Screencastify, a chrome extension that we use all the time in my school, to gather what is being shown on her screen. In this case, it is the document camera projection on her screen that she is recording. Rather than using Smart Notebook, or Google Slides to walk through examples, she was using her notepad to write out her mathematics. Again, you might be saying well Craig, that is not any different than a teacher filling out a piece of paper live in front of a class. You are right! But I didn't make the connection that a teacher could in fact record a screencast with paper and pencil.
If you would like to talk more about how document cameras can be used in your classroom, you know where to find me.