If you attended the session today you can click here for your takeaway.
It has been a very, very long time since I have contributed a post to TFT. Since leaving the classroom almost 3 years ago, I have got to read about how Garth and Travis have continued the TFT collaboration. Now that I am fully ingrained in the world of administration, I am hoping to add a few new posts, and some post-like content for the site.
Last week I attended November Learnings, Building Learning Communities (BLC16) Conference in Boston. This was my 5th BLC (I think) and it never ceases to amaze me what an inspiring group gathers every year in Boston. This year I presented three sessions and was also a keynote speaker. The keynote format follows a TEDTalk-style format. Four presenters, each with twenty minutes, and a common theme. My presentation was on Empathy in Education. I am hoping video of the presentations will be placed online in the coming months. Below are my slide presentations.
My biggest take-away from BLC16 was that the world is starting to filter through all the layers of education and get to (FINALLY) the heart of change...Empathy. There were several session lead by people like Caitlin Krause, a mindfulness expert and trainer who see the importance of understanding yourself, your environment, and your learners. BLC seldom focuses on tools, apps, and devices, but this year seemed different. IT felt like people are really starting to connect in a very meaningful way with the teaching & learning process.
It was great seeing old friends, making a few new ones, and taking a rather epic motorcycle ride from Ohio to Boston for the week. It was a beautiful city, beautiful weather, and inspiring people.
Keynote on Empathy in Education
Presentation on Technology for Student Ownership
,A week ago we started talking about the Protestant Reformation in class and a student raised her hand and said, "Mr. Armstrong, when will we ever use any of this information in the real world"? I responded with, "you may not need to know all of the information we cover this year but, the skills and process you practice in the learning process is always valuable." Then an idea came to me... I'm going to have the students look at how change occurred during the Protestant Reformation and have them follow the same outline to change something they are unhappy about within their lives.
Step 1: Identify what you would like to see change. My students came up with things like more electives in our schedule, driving age reduced to 13 (I bet you can guess how old my students are) and so on.
Step 2: Talk about why people wanted the Catholic Church to change (list complaints people like Martin Luther had)
Step 3: List the complaints you have about your topic.
Step 4: Look at the outcome of the complaints during the Protestant Reformation (the creation of Protestant churches)
Step 5: Write up your proposal on how you would like your item to change.
The students who chose to make a change to the Middle School curriculum will present their idea(s) to our building principal and possibly one of our district curriculum directors.
Revision on the fly... After completing step 4 it was clear that some students were not all that interested in trying to make a change to the school schedule. So, I gave them a different option... I told them they could follow the same path that Martin Luther took and create a new protestant religion. I told them to first think about the issues (selling of indulgences etc...) they felt were the most important and have that help drive the creation of your new religion. Below are a few examples of what the students made.
A few weeks ago, I did an interview with Matt Miller, author of the educational book, "Ditch that Textbook". Matt's book as described on Amazon is as follows:
Are you ready for a change? You know potential exists for innovative, engaging, revolutionary education if you get the right ideas, right tools, and right people, all in the right order.
If that sounds like you, then you're ready to DITCH old mindsets and methods and replace them with empowering, liberating ones. Author and teacher, Matt Miller shows you how to choose and incorporate teaching practices that are:
Matt and I discussed the building and creation of the online textbook over the last ten years found at http://dgh.wikispaces.com/home Matt's main point is to move beyond textbooks into something more local, more teacher/student drive, something more engaging to kids---Often called Open Educational Resources (OERs).
Also below is a screen recording I did today to answer a group of questions I got in an email from Dallas in Oklahoma. I thought I would include them as they deal with the idea of building your own OER.
Google doc with links I am using during the youtube
Travis and I are working to connect our student's more this year then we have been able to in the past.
Several years ago when Mike and I were connecting our classroom we used google docs as a shared space to ask questions, provide links, images etc. between the two schools. Mike and I had done this several times during year.
Travis and I have talked about trying to make this work for us.
We have been reluctant to take the student interaction to this level due to some of the hardware obsticles Travis has had. However this year, with Dublin having a new CTO, he has received a few extra devices for his class. Which have opened a few more doors for us throughout the school year.
We moved to using google docs as a collaboration tool between the students at our schools 130 miles apart. Our first addition to having more interaction was bringing back the shared google doc that Mike and I use to do during the Middle Ages unit. We are currently planning out our next addition that we will do in the next couple of months. Which will give the students an opportunity to work on a project exclusively with their blog pal. We will write out Part 2 of this post once we have completed the second project.
We talked for over an hour. Matt did a great job of summarizing that conservation and sharing his insights on the discussion (so I won't waste your time here:) You can view that write up on his blog: http://ditchthattextbook.com/2016/03/18/a-student-created-digital-textbook-their-process-and-resources/
I had mentioned a few resources that he did not have linked in his blog, they are as follows:
Slide show on our process to build the textbook
My youtube channel:
Have a great weekend.
Below is a short 2 minute discussion between myself and Emily Dralle, my student teacher from John Carroll, on her thoughts of the students doing the podcast using Mic Note.
Garth: I also have lots of Minecraft projects going on now. Some kids have built a visual world of the year to date. Images of Greece, Rome and now the middle ages. I am adding a few older projects here for you to view, but expect to have some more in the next few weeks and our students get deeper into the content.
One thing we hope to do this year, is get a server built and have both schools work other 130 miles apart. Should be awesome. Check back soon...