On Tuesday, August 15th, the Huron Shores Ed Tech Conference was held at Alpena Community College. Over 130 educators from all over northeast Michigan engaged in professional development that focused on integrating technology into the classroom. The Huron Shores Ed Tech conference was a collaboration between Ashlie O’Connor, an Instructional Technology and Data Specialist at the Alpena Montmorency Alcona Educational Service District, and Meghan Cameron, an Instructor of Mathematics at Alpena Community College. The conference was designed to support 21st century learning skills and digital learning in the classroom.
The conference had two keynote speakers. Tim Kaegi, the opening keynote, is from Ann Arbor, Michigan and an elementary teacher. He spoke to the attendees about his inspirational moments throughout his educational career and how encouraging creativity in students inspires learning. John Phillips, the closing keynote, is from Berrien County, Michigan. John spoke about the Maker Movement and how it is catching on in schools. The Huron Shores Ed Tech conference had over 20 breakout sessions where local area teachers shared their knowledge and technology uses in the classroom. The Huron Shores Ed Tech Conference was also supported by seven companies including REMC Association of Michigan, Peardeck, Belkin, Sowash Adventures LLC, Acer, Michigan Virtual and Performance Locker.
I recently discovered an app/ website called Creative Live and I can honestly say I am fascinated by it.
Creative Live offers paid or free on demand classes that focus on creative subjects in Photo & Video, Art & Design, Music & Audio, Craft & Maker and Money & Life. On the website you can search for classes or explore the on demand classes. For example as I am typing this, I am listening about ways to operate the Nikon D750 to have better photos.
The teachers on the Creative Live website have all solid experiences and are considered experts in their field. You can join Creative Live using your Google Single Sign on search for classes to purchase or listen to on air.
After reviewing the site I had so many ideas and questions come into my head.
1. How could districts use this?
Districts today are experiencing many educational cuts and often fine arts are the first to go. Could you use this site to help with individualized education and personalized learning?
2. Why are the classes on this site so expensive? What demographics are the designers trying to target? How affordable is this to parents, districts and students. Where does higher learning come into play? Is this more for adult learners then student learners? How do you utilize the on air feature to its maximum benefit?
3. What are the possibilities after utilizing this site to the full capability. While listening to on demand programming, I found myself suddenly becoming inspired to look at photography more in depth. I felt that with the help of experts I too could improve on any one of these subjects.
After having a firework display of questions and ideas, I did realize that creative live is much like a classroom. They both have experts, they both have content and they both have students.
I would love for you to check out Creative Live and leave a comment about the site or how it compares to a classroom. Happy Exploring.
As an instructional technology and data coach I work with adult learners on a daily basis. When I designed an online course for teacher professional development, I wanted to be mindful of time, understanding and creativity for my participants. Often teachers are in front of students the majority of their day: teaching, answering questions, and mentoring youth. Because of this, they do not get much time for preparation or grading. I wanted to create a course that allows teachers could go indepth with formative assessment and also design a lesson that not only is applicable in their classroom but also checks student understanding.
I designed my lessons with the idea of scaffolding in mind. Scaffolding is the idea of introducing information in progression to move participants toward a deeper understanding of material. One example of scaffolding in my lessons is the progression of learning material. I begin with the research behind formative assessment, continue with formative assessment example and then asking participant to create their own lessons using the knowledge they have learned in the course. Scaffolding reduces the cognitive load on participants and allows them to see how the lessons fit together to produce a holistic learning experience.
I also kept the philosophy of constructivism while designing my course. Constructivism is the idea that people learn through designing and building to support their own understanding of new knowledge. I designed the lessons so that participants could interact and engage with the newly learned material. By interacting with this material, participants can reinforce learned knowledge by creating their own material to use in their classroom. This practice not only reinforces the knowledge but also solidifies understanding of the content and process.
Lastly I wanted to increase accessibility while decreasing cognitive load by incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles into my class. Universal Design for learning analyzes how knowledge is given, understood and the amount of engagement a learner has with the information, and then designs all components to reach multiple types of learners. I did this by changing the color and format of text, utilizing audio and video to reinforce lesson objectives and main ideas and creating how to videos for users to replay if they are confused.
Some things to be mindful when creating an online course are take your time and be detailed. When I first began I was so focused on main ideas that I did not slow down to think of myself as a first time viewer of the course. Adopting a “go slow to go fast” mantra will increase understanding and decrease confusion in participants. Also I would encourage future course designers to be consistent with formatting. If each lesson is designed differently, it may affect how the learner navigates through the lesson. This could also impact the success of the learner. Being consistent also allows for the mind to pay less attention to the differences in format and more attention to the knowledge within the lesson.
You can check out my lesson by clicking on this link
Often at this time of the year, the education world becomes a highway with no speed limit. Initiatives, to-dos and goals are the cars with no speed limit and no driving manners. They could be going so fast you cannot see them or so slow they could cause an accident. Me? On my highway I am the pavement bearing the weight of all the cars while being mindful of the upkeep of my highway.
While the cars were traveling on. An unexpected roadblock occured, my two year old son got sick. I watched as the cars began to swerve out of control and try and stay on the road. I thought of everything I could do to try and work a half day to get that project done, finish those phone calls, create that one presentation and then I checked Twitter.
"This was one of the first tweets that popped up on my feed. I thought for a minute, Ashlie this is a sign, stay home, be a mom and enjoy it while you can." The project can wait eight hours, those phone calls you can make tomorrow, and that presentation? It will be there when the sun rises. I scooped up my son and we cuddled, spending time that was much needed mentally and physically for both of us.
Too often we get so busy that what we see ahead of us are our tasks and not human relationships. After taking a step back and looking at the big picture the eight hours I got to spend with my son were the best most relaxing eight hours I have had in a long time. I will always be busy. I will always take on new challenges and try and be the best I can be, not only on a professional level but a personal level. You need to find balance and that is why at least two lanes on my highway will be family friendly.
Thank you @alicekeeler for reminding me how precious life is.
I had the opportunity to virtually meet with four professionals in education tonight about utilizing tools and text enhancements to help students comprehend new material and communicate what they understand. All five of us had different backgrounds in education, did not live within 120 miles of each other and taught different age levels. The one thing we had in common was improving education for students.
We shared ideas and examples of ways we bridged the gap to meet the needs of all types of students. We listened to struggles, celebrated accomplishments and reflected on what's next for our own development as both students and teachers in a 21st century world.
After the conversation ended I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. I had double the amount of energy before the conversation began and I was ready to change the world with all of the inspiration and ideas they gave me.
I credit these emotions to the conversation itself. Just by listening, relating and visualizing what they were speaking about and knowing we were standing on similar ground, I felt the benefits of being able to share and communicate.
I would love to be able to do this in a professional setting on a consistent basis, where the opportunity to engage in conversations with others who are working towards the same goal exists. Our conversation could lead to an idea, an understanding or even change to help make the experience for students in our building even better.
How often would you need these conversations? Would they have to be scheduled consistently at the same time in the same place? What would a schedule look like where there is some free time to plan, discuss, or communicate with others who you may normally not run into in a normal work day?
Below is a short video about conversation
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or examples of how this could work in a professional setting.
Six years ago, much of what I created was on a computer while looking at teaching standards. I wanted to create lessons that students would remember for a lifetime. I worked tirelessly researching, editing, and implementing features and tools that would make social studies come alive. Once one lesson was done, I would immediately go on to the next one, analyzing the standard and creating a masterpiece.
Then I had my first child. I would watch her grow and play with blocks stacking them, organizing them and creating her own world. She would amaze me by what she created. As she was getting older, she also began playing Minecraft, Legos, and Playdough. Simultaneously I had the opportunity to create a lesson using maker tools and develop a lesson with Minecraft as part of my Masters of Educational Technology Program at Michigan State University.
Together her and I would experiment with the Makey Makey and play together in Minecraft worlds. When my husband suggested it was her bedtime, we both said one more minute then giggled. With both her and my Master's program help, I rediscovered imagination and what it can do for the mind.
Establishing relationships is an essential part in building collaborative group work. Throughout the last two years, I have been fortunate enough to become a Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators (FAME) Coach. This position allows me to meet with educators and administrators to discuss how formative assessment affects student learning in classrooms and how formative assessment is being used in classrooms.
While facilitating these meetings, I try to keep in mind the needs and thoughts of all involved in the group. Reinforcing that our meetings are safe and all dialogue is welcome when it comes to reviewing what is being implemented in classrooms is key to creating thoughtful discussions.
My background in meeting facilitation and coaching conversations stems from the the Thinking Collaborative training series. Two training that have affected how I work with others and listen to others are Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching.
Adaptive Schools works with school leaders in organizing, maintaining and supporting groups in dialogue and discussion.
Cognitive Coaching provides tools to engage in conversations and thoughtful direction.
For more on Cognitive Coaching and Adaptive Schools check out the Thinking Collaboratively Website
The district that I have worked at in the past nine years doesn't have a McDonald's in the county. The nearest one is twenty miles south, making fast food not really fast or worth it. The nearest major airport? Three hours. The nearest major professional sports stadium? Four hours. Field trips and opportunities to see new things are difficult if you live in an area like mine. Many of our students do not get the chance to travel and if they do, it's costly both in time and money.
With the introduction of Virtual Reality companies and programs such as Google Cardboard traveling places and seeing new things isn't limited to those who can only afford it. Google has found a way to offer affordable virtual reality trips by selling viewers ranging from $15.00-$35.00 that work with any smartphone that has the ability to download apps. By purchasing several viewers and compatible phones schools will unlock the world for students to see.
Schools can cut the cost of purchasing these viewers and phones even more by asking communities and organizations to donate old devices and only using free apps that work with Google Cardboard.
Some free apps that I recommend are
I would love to hear your ideas on how to incorporate virtual reality into classrooms or ways you already have. Please leave a comment below.
.The Masters of Educational Technology program at Michigan State University has introduced multiple concepts that will forever impact my teaching and outlook on life. Universal Design for Learning is a concept that reinforces that distributing knowledge and learning does not have to come in a one size fits all model. As technology is constantly evolving, it is providing education with multiple ways to integrate in the classroom. There are three principles embedded within Universal Design for Learning philosophy.
The first is redesigning the way that knowledge is distributed to the learners. This can trigger a different learning style, increase engagement, or provide another lens for the learner to view the knowledge with. The ability to learn is not equal, our job as educators is to find ways to make it more equitable for all. The second component of the UDL principle is Action and expression. If students are provided multiple ways to express that they have learned the knowledge this can also break down barriers. Finally the last component is engagement. If someone is not engaged with the knowledge they will have trouble with intrinsic motivation and comprehension.
Recently, I had the opportunity to guest host a webinar with the Kent ISD professional development webinar series. My topic was utilizing apps both in Chrome and IOS to decrease barriers and support UDL principles. Feel free to check out my presentation via this link.
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Recently Google unveiled its newest learning tool the Chrome Music Lab. Its a collaborative site between musicians and coders to create music experiments that help visitors learn more about music. As an additional feature Chrome Music Lab provides open source code so the user can create their own experiments. Check out the video below to view Chrome Music Lab in action.
How Chrome Music Lab Can Help Education
Right now schools are using 2,3, 4, different devices/operating systems which causes streaming of one type of software or application difficult to do. Chrome Music Lab works across multiple devices which doesn't make the program subject to just once type of device. School budgets are not restricted by Chrome Music Lab either. Google is bringing this to world for free encouraging unlimited creativity and access. Lastly for schools who have had to cut their music education program due to budget cuts or lack of staff capacity greatly benefit from using Chrome Music Lab to integrate it with other curriculum lessons. While this may not be as idea as having a music teacher on staff, the interaction with the Music Lab's experiment creates conversations and opportunities for discovery and reflection. For more information about Chrome Music Lab check out this link.