One could easily play around with the software for hours, creating new ways to keep our students engaged. As cool and excited as I was for trying out all of these new features, I envision that many teachers are not as interested in “geeking out” as those of us were in the workshop. That’s what makes places like the Lesson Activity Toolkit and the SMART Exchange so valuable. The engaging activities are already created for teachers to then modify. I’d also entered the workshop with the hope of learning more about how teachers create actual lessons and use them in lesson plans for an entire class period, unit, and year. I certainly enjoyed and appreciated the tips, but I’m still interested in hearing more about the lesson creation and curriculum integration piece, especially as it pertains to high school curriculum materials.
Later in the afternoon, I attended a workshop entitled “Using Google Apps with Classroom Instruction that Works Strategies”, led by Matt Kuhn from McRel. The Google name still packs them in, as there was a long line formed for non-ticket holders. My goal for this workshop was not to learn about Google Apps, but rather get more instructional strategies and see how teachers are using the Apps to improve classroom instruction.
Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Matt tied Google Apps to strategies featured in Classroom Instruction That Works, which reminds me of topics covered by Jon Sapier and his work with our teachers. Specifically, Matt demonstrated the new Drawing tool in Google Docs as a way to create student produced graphic organizers, Google Wave as a text backchannel for video watching, Google Docs for live text editing (newer features enabled), Google Squared for creating comparative matrices, and Google Sites for cooperative learning. I was most impressed with the Drawing tool and Squared. I’m still on the fence with Google Wave, especially with Docs enabling live text editing.
After some browsing of poster sessions, I finished the day getting shut out of “21 Things…Lessons Learned from Staff Development,” but made it into Gary Stager’s “20 Lessons…1-to-1 Teaching.” Admittedly, I was more excited for the 21 Things workshop, but just 5 minutes into Gary’s talk, I was hooked. Reminding me of Bradley Whitford’s “Josh Lyman” character from the West Wing, Gary came off as quick, witty, smart, arrogant at times, entertaining, and above all, a speaker of authority. I was moved as much as I could be given that our school will not be going 1:1 soon, and I became increasingly excited about our upcoming limited netbook rollout (yes Gary, it’s going to still be called a “pilot project”). In the presentation, he gave us 20 lessons learned from his vast experience with 1:1, though these lessons can be applied to the much larger picture of education technology integration and not just for 1:1. I hope to apply as many of these lessons into our upcoming deployment.