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.
[UDL image], Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/our-work/about-udl.html#.Vuwx3_krLDc
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.