My Conference Highlights #emints

While back in the office reflecting on this past week, I must admit I was sad to see the eMINTS National Conference come to an end. All of the presentations I attended were really excellent and truly inspiring.  If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, I highly encourage you make it next year. Conferences always tend to re-spark my love of education – I leave with so many fresh ideas and tools, it would be impossible to share them all in one blog post. We promise to share these great ideas, tools and more with you in this blog over the next few months but, for now, here are my top four moments from the conference:

 

  • PictureThursday Keynote Speaker, Ken Shelton: Ken spoke about “Generation Now”, focusing on three themes: Information Literacy, Digital Citizenship, and Publication and Collaboration. Not only was his presentation informative, his slides were beautifully designed and well thought out. A hot topic of the conference came from this session when Ken brought up “selfies”, sharing a video spoof on Instagram to remind students that, once you post a photo online, it’s out there and there is no going back.  For those who don’t know, a “selfie” is a picture taken of yourself that is usually intended to be uploaded to a social networking site.
  • Friday Keynote Speaker, Howie DiBlasi: Dr. Howie went over the habits of highly effective 21st century classrooms, at one point posing the question of whether we were ready for the next generation of students. His presentation was fast-paced and fun, sharing many inspirational videos and current tools to help us prepare students for the changing world we live in. His presentation inspired some great ideas for future blog posts on building 21st century skills, so keep checking back for this in the next couple weeks.
  •  Falling Falling, Falling (A Model Lesson): This session was discussed in the last post, so I won’t go into too much detail at this time — but this was one of my favorite sessions of the conference. Doug Caldwell and Glen Westbroek presented a model eMINTS lesson with the session attendees as the students. We got to set up tracks of dominos and record how fast they fell, based on various factors. It was super neat to see, from the student perspective, how current online tools can be used in a hands-on lesson that promotes real-world thinking and uses the eMINTS instructional model. A big bonus of this session is that they provided everything you need to implement this lesson in your own classroom via a LiveBinder, which you can access here.
  • QR codes and the Four C’s: One of the last sessions on Friday, I ‘d consider this to be one of the more energetic sessions I attended. Shelly Tarter gave us an interactive presentation on QR codes and how they can be used with the 4 C’s of education:  Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. We got hands-on experience using QR codes, learned the difference between static and dynamic QR codes, and brainstormed possible uses in groups — all while having fun. You could tell this presentation was a favorite by how the conversation continued long after it ended.  Shelly put together a great Weebly site for this presentation, which you can view here.


These were only a few of my favorite moments of the conference, but every attendee had a different schedule with a different experience. Question: What were some the highlights of your own 2013 eMINTS Conference experience?

[This post was provided by Zoe Hyatt, an instructional developer for the eMINTS National Center and eLearning for Educators.]

Learning Exercises to Promote Thinking

When getting our brains started for the day, it is best exercised by thinking about something that triggers emotions and connections to the world around us. As eMINTS teachers we look for ways to integrate inquiry into our classrooms on a daily basis. This helps to engage the brain, exercise it and just get it going for the day. However, coming up with thoughtful questions everyday can be taxing! Wonderopolis helps bring thought provoking questions into the classroom, which enhances the opportunity to do more inquiry. “Do Insects Work Out?”  This is a Wonderopolis “Wonder of the day”, and each day they present questions for pondering. What might student answers be to this very question? What hypothesis can be formed to explain their reasoning? norgesbesteonlinecasinoer Getting the creative jucies flowing is just one way to use this great resource.

Besides a daily question, Wonderopolis also provides students with videos, photos, and additional thought provoking questions in a “Did you know?” format. Students can practice their computer literacy skills by exploring questions that they develop based on the resources provided here. Questioning is a skill that students often struggle with, but what they may not realize is how many questions they have when they get excited about a topic.

The National Center of Family Literacy are the designers of this great resource. They have also included ideas for brain-breaks, bell-ringers, energizers, and more. These are just a few ways this resource can be integrated into the classroom on a daily or weekly basis.

Wonderopolis is a great way to exercise the brain while focusing on the world around us. What might be some daily learning exercises that can stimulate thinking or get the brain moving in your classroom?

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To find out how to share Wonderopolis right from your classroom website click here.

[This post was provided by Amy Blades, an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.]

 

Edutopia Features eMINTS and Hartville

Click for link to Edutopia: Schools that Work

On July 25, the Edutopia’s Schools That Work profiles the eMINTS program as it has been implemented in the Hartville R-II School District located in Hartville, MO. The Hartville School District has implemented the eMINTS program at multiple grade levels from elementary through high school over the past seven years. The district was selected by Edutopia not only for its high levels of performance on standardized assessments but also for its strong showing on other measures of student performance such as graduation rate, number of students completing advanced courses, and career education placements.

Edutopia, sponsored by the George Lucas Foundation, is a digital treasure trove of resources, ideas, and communication opportunities for educators, parents, and others who are interested in improving the K-12 learning process. Edutopiahighlights evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their future education, careers, and adult lives.

Edutopia film crews visited the eMINTS National Center offices and the Hartville School District in April to capture footage about the eMINTS professional development programs and how they were implemented in Hartville. The crew interviewed program leaders, Monica Beglau and Lorie Kaplan, about the ways that eMINTS helps teachers learn how to integrate technology into classrooms so that learning can be transformed.

The interviews provide insight into how eMINTS professional development is one of the few programs that has lasting positive impacts on how teachers teach. The crew travelled to Hartville to film an eMINTS professional development session and then followed teachers into their classrooms to observe how the professional development changed their practice.

In addition to the feature video, eMINTS has shared program resources that teachers can use in their classrooms to integrate technology in more effective ways.

Transforming Technology Use in the Classroom

Courtesy of Fotopedia

Grappling’s Learning and Technology Spectrum is an important point of reference for eMINTS. We use the spectrum to help teachers determine how they are using technology with their students, providing depth and context to the “Powered by Technology” component of our instructional model.

While Grappling’s Spectrum does not necessarily provide a hierarchy of technology use, we do encourage teachers to push their technology use toward the “Transforming Uses” so as to make said technology use more purposeful. This can be hard to do, but breaking down a simple lesson for its key components can help us see that metamorphosis from literacy to adapting to transforming levels.

For example, let’s say a teacher is assigning a book report to be completed in PowerPoint form. To prepare the students to use the software, the teacher uses direct instruction to help the class build a generic PowerPoint presentation. Once the students know how to use PowerPoint, they can then apply it to their book report. This use of direct instruction hits the “Literacy Uses” level of the spectrum and the use of that software to complete a somewhat traditional book report falls under “Adapting Uses.” Teaching students how to use software is an important step in insuring their success.

To advance this use of the software to the next level, a slight shift can happen incorporating a constructivist approach. The teacher could simply assign the book report to be completed with PowerPoint, allowing students to learn the program through their creation of the final product instead of teaching the skills separately. There is nothing new about a book report except that students are using a new(ish) technology to complete an old task. Still, it’s important for students to apply traditional tasks in non-traditional modes.

How do we make this a transformative project? The teacher could ask students to crowd- source their presentation through social networks. Interaction through blogging, discussion boards, or Twitter might provide discussion and insight into their book report. Students could use these discussions in piecing together their book reports or even share their presentation online using Google Docs or Office Live. The online, real-world interactions transform the traditional book report into a conversation that reaches beyond the student’s insular interpretations.

The PowerPoint book report was simply moved from literacy to adaptive to transforming uses with slight shifts in approach. Instead of teaching software skills separately from the academic task, the two were combined to adapt a traditional activity. Then, that traditional activity was revised again to include online, interactive components, increasing the complexity of the original project.

Other examples of shifting the technology levels of typical lessons may include…

Literacy Uses Adapting Uses Transforming Uses
How to use Skype or G+Hangouts to communicate Use Skype/G+Hangout to demonstrate and share results from an experiment Use Skype/G+ Hangout to collaborate the planning and implementation of an experiment, responding and revising each other’s process
How to use Google Sketchup Use Google Sketchup to design a structure using common geometric shapes Use Google Sketchup to design a structure using common geometric shapes; share drawings on a blog, inviting submissions for revisions and improvements from architects
How to use an online timeline generator Use an online timeline generator to retell the major events of the Civil War Collaborate on a timeline with a school from the opposite side of the Mason-Dixon line to create site-specific timelines that show both sides of the Civil War

Of course, this is a limited list of activities to adjust for the various levels of Grappling’s model. Simply, direct instruction on how to use technology fits the literacy uses level. Learning that same skill by applying it to a typical activity meets the adapting uses level. Finding ways to make that same activity interactive with audiences beyond the classroom can convert this activity to one that applies to the transforming uses level of the spectrum.

Not every use of technology has to be revised to meet the transforming uses level of Grappling’s spectrum. In fact, there are reasons for using technology at all levels. However, as shown above, it is easy to adjust an activity to transform how students use technology to support their learning.

How do you use technology in all levels of Grappling’s spectrum? How have you revised an activity to meet the transforming use level? What kinds of activities best lend themselves to the transforming uses level?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.