OPB Radio's Rob Manning visited our Kindergarten Connect meeting on Wednesday as part of a report he did on the funding of full day kindergarten in Oregon.
This week IntegratED-PDX was held in Portland. This is the annual conference put on by OETC. The event opened up with a special leadership strand on Wednesday. I had the opportunity to work with Tricia George and we helped to facilitate a session with school administrators focused on using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share the story of your school.
The opening keynote was by Mark Frauenfelder, the founder of BoingBoing and Make Magazine. His message of the maker movement and the celebration of DIY, was something that I have not heard spotlighted in a major education conference keynote and was very glad that OETC provided him the opportunity to share this.
On Thursday Tricia George and I helped facilitate a discussion with school leaders about trends and challenges associated with technology. I liked that the majority of the time was spent in table groups having conversations.
Finally the aspect of IntegratED that i enjoy most is that this conference works very hard to break down hierarchies. Michelle Cordy had an insightful Twitter post about how the name badges did not have ribbons to designate speakers, board members, and other strata of conference goer. Just a a blank slate which allows participants to tell who they are.
To me that is the most important take away from this event. Darren Hudgins and the staff of OETC work hard to bring in interesting people, doing interesting work, work focused on students and learning, and then make a space that allows them to share, and learn with the participants. The opportunity to connect with participants is just one of the many aspects of the program that make this my favorite conference.
An important aspect of this is time after sessions, when people gather. I was fortunate to be able to connect with many of the participants in the evenings and between sessions. The size of the conference makes connecting possible.
Finally the event allows me to connect with old friends and also connect with new friends that I have met via social media. It is a great venue for connecting with educators working on the cutting edge of education and I encourage folks to consider attending next year...
On Friday evening Lewis Elementary School held its annual Talent Show. The show is lead by our 4th grade teacher, Sarah Kohn, along with support from many parents. The acts are mainly students singing, dancing, performing gymnastics, playing musical instruments and performing in skits. Students also act as announcers and stage support. We have posted a few photos on our Flickr site. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjTAVD1g
In the last few years we have started a new Talent Show tradition. A performance by The Lonesome Teacher Trio. The trio consists of our won Mr. Colvin, Mr. Jamesbarry, and Mr. Marchyok. Enjoy.
Oregonians are a pretty hardy lot when it comes to rain, but every once in a while we have to call an inside recess. When that happens our some of our students have the option of going to the gym. There are PE teacher, Ms. Layman, has several activities set up for them including one that involves an iPad running YouTube, a Chromecast a data projector. With this setup she projects dance videos on the wall and the kids get to take part as the did today dancing to the Gummi Bear song. Click the image above to take a look.
In an earlier post I mentioned the upcoming IntegratedPDX conference taking place later this week in Portland. I'm looking forward to attending and taking part, but another reason I'm looking forward to the conference is that one of my teachers, Pamela Kennedy, will be leading a session on Thursday. Her topic is the use of Evernote as a portfolio system.
Pamela Kennedy is a 3rd grade teacher at Lewis Elementary. Pamela's classroom incorporates seating and standing options that allow students to work in ways that best fit them. You can read more about Pamela's classroom and the work of her students on her class blog: http://mskennedy17.wordpress.com. Be sure to also follow her on Twitter: @pamelakennedy17.
And if you will be attending IntegratedPDX this week, make a point of meeting her.
I am looking forward to a couple of events this week.
IntegratedPDX is a education conference put on by the folks at OETC that attempts to connect people in the educational technology world with one another and provide a venue for the sharing of ideas and strategies that focuses on learning and how technology can be used to support this.
The conference starts Wednesday night with a keynote by Mark Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing and co-editor and founder of Make magazine. The organizers of this conference do an excellent job bringing in speakers, who are at first glance, are not connected to traditional education, but are always connected to learning and how people learn.
The traditional keynote is where this conference stops being like most education conferences. It doesn't have speakers, but rather facilitators/presenters. The goal of each session is not to have participants sit and listen to someone up in front of the room, but rather get people in the room talking and sharing and learning from one another. I'm looking forward to facilitating a session, Making Connections - Supporting Educational Technology as a Building Leader, on Thursday with Tricia George.
Another event that is connected to IntegratedPDX, is Accelerate. Accelerate, also sponsored by OETC, has a similar format to IntegratedPDX, but is only one day and the focus is on school leaders. This takes place on Wednesday. Tricia and I are also doing a session at Accelerate, Juggling the Possibilities: Promoting personal growth and teacher innovation through technology in K-12 schools.
The hashtag for both events is #ipdx14
What a difference a week makes. Last week Portland was covered in about 6 inches of snow. Sunday saw temperatures near 50. The daffodils planted in the front of the school are coming up and in a few weeks should be in bloom. A nice sign that winter is ending and spring is just around the corner.
This year our 5th grade students at Lewis Elementary are 1:1 using Chromebooks and Nexus 7 tablets. Basically for each 5th grade classroom we have a half set of Chromebooks and a half set of Nexus 7 tablets. So for every two students, they share a Chromebook and a tablet, and at any given time there is a device available for every student. We chose this option because of cost, and also because we wanted to take advantages of the strengths of each tool and have devices that tied into our Google Apps for Education ecosystem.
The Chromebooks provide a traditional laptop experience. The tablets allow us to utilize a good quality camera, along with easy audio recording. Quite a few students also use the Nexus as a writing tool. They dictate a first draft using the voice to text feature to convert spoken words to text into Google Docs. They then can easily open up the doc on their Chromebooks for more editing.
All in all we are very happy with our mixed environment. As I mentioned we use Google Apps for education and the ability to login to multiple accounts on both the Chromebooks and the Nexus 7 tablets makes the process of students accessing their work a pretty easy process.
We also utilize the Hapara Teacher Dashboard which helps teachers easily keep track of student work. I'll have more to say about Hapara in a future post.
For the most part winter in Portland means rain. Temperatures between the mid 30s and high 40s, and lots of grey sky and interesting clouds (I love the clouds in Oregon.) So when we do get snow it is special. The kids at school get excited, the adults too. Also, snow is often times followed by freezing rain, making walking, let alone driving, pretty treacherous.
Last Thursday snow was forecast in Portland, and sure enough it started to snow at my school around 10:30 am. With a significant amount forecast, my district made the decision to dismiss school at 1:00 pm. Our district uses a variety of tools to get information to parents. These include automated phone calls, automated email and texts, posts to the district web page, posts to the district Facebook page, and posts to Twitter, not to mention announcements on local legacy media. By 2:00 pm we only had 4 students still at school. By 3:30 all students had been picked up.
In total we got about 6 inches of snow. Anything over an inch will shut down the city, so you can imagine that over the weekend things slowed down quite a bit. Streets were turned into ski and sled runs.
Saturday night the temperature rose and the snow turned to freezing rain. Sunday we woke up to everything covered in ice. School was again called off on Monday. As I write this all major streets are clear pavement, but parking areas are still covered with snow, and most folks have not been able to clear their sidewalks. I can attest to the difficulty of chipping and clearing frozen snow.
No word yet on school on Tuesday, but I anticipate a possible late opening. I was out at school today and the side streets near the school are hard to pass.
Looking forward to the return of the rain later in the week...