The theme of the conference, "Breakdown Walls: Empower Learners" resonated throughout the individual presentations. Here are some helpful takeaways and presenter links from the four sessions and keynote address that I attended.
Session 1. Going Global: Inviting the World into the Classroom
Presenters Nicole Nowakoski (@) and Carolyn Daniels (@) did an excellent job at sharing their experiences with using social media and programs such as Twitter, Skype, Padlet, Blogs, Kahoot and Minecraft to break down the four walls of the elementary school classroom. Some major takeaways included:
- Start within the 4 walls first. Begin by modeling Twitter use to your class through a classroom Twitter account. Tweet out morning meeting information, connect locally with other classrooms in district on Twitter. Tweet student poetry and work - students will focus on spelling with an audience! Eventually go global and connect with the outside world.
- Use Skype for a "Mystery Skype" - try to guess where other classrooms are in the world that the students are communicating with. This can be done with parents/community members who travel
- Set up a class blog for students to share their work and thinking
Their Online Presentation:
Session 2. Elementary Learning Centers
Presenter Kate Candido (@) shared some of her great ideas for getting started with learning centers in your K-5 library. Her rational for learning centers included an emphasis on student collaboration, independent learning, and problem solving. For teachers, learning centers provide opportunities for differentiation, flexible grouping, and targeted group instruction. Her ideas for centers included QR code listening stations, keyboarding stations, Lego maker stations, trivia question of the week stations, research stations, and online educational game stations. Kate did a great job of using Nearpod to enable audience members to share their own ideas.
Kate's Media Center's Blog: http://oasmedia.weebly.com/
Session 3. Empowering Young Learners with STEAM Activities and Challenges
Maureen Schlosser (@)and Becky Granantini provided some wonderful picture book inspired STEAM challenges with the class. The books that they most recommended tying in with STEAM challenges included: The Most Magnificent Thing, Going Places, It's Only Stanley, Rosie Revere Engineer, Iggy Peck Architect, and A Storm Called Katrina. One fun example for the little ones was to read the 3 Little Pigs, and then have the students create a toothpick/marshmallow houses to resist the big bad wolf (a powered fan). They recommended that rubrics for these projects begin with "I Can" statements.
Here is an example of the activity for A Storm Called Katrina:
Session 4. Hands on Exploration of Makerspace Resources
Jenny Lussier (@) did a wonderful job at introducing some Makerspace technology tools, while still providing ample time for the audience to work with the tools in a hands-on environment. Participants explored Makey Makeys, Little Bits, Spheros, Ozbots, and more. Their online presentation provides information about these Makerspace resources.
Their online presentation:
The Keynote Presentation - Angela Maiers
Angela Maiers (@) delivered an inspiring presentation which delivered her message that we do not have a technology gap, but a literacy gap. Literacy, which goes beyond the traditional sense, enables us to understand complex messages, convey meaning, and rally others. In the 21st century, the literacy road map is changing, as are the rules of the road. We must be constant unlearners and relearners, and help our students to do the same. Angela reminded us that kids want to share, create, and collaborate. She also warned us to run away from any speaker that claims they are the expert and a guru, because only the room, with its collective minds, is the true guru.
Angela's online presentation materials: