Teaching and Learning in a Digital World Conference Reflection – Day 2

The second day of the conference started with an open format where teachers were sharing apps that they use in the classroom.  I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Del Gobbo (@DaveDelGobbo), the ITRT for my school.  He showed me a free computer program called Tracker.  Tracker is a free Java application that allows you to measure and track the movement of objects from a video and complete a mathematical and physical analysis on it.  I have spent a little bit of time playing around with it and even though it looks a little technical I can see the real usefulness.  I am hoping to use this to help answer the question “How are we ever going to use this in real life” and be able to create real life models to show students that the mathematical concepts we learn are relevant in real life.

Keynote Speech: George Couros (@gcouros)

Thinking back to George’s keynote speech, the first word that comes to mind is WOW!  George is one of the best presenters I have ever seen.  Not only is he very knowledgeable about education and the importance of technology in education but he is extremely motivational.  I think he had the attention of all 600 teachers in the room for the entire hour he was on stage.  Keep in mind he had to be extremely jet lagged since I was following him on twitter the day before when he had left Australia and landed in Vancouver before flying in to Toronto that morning.  However, you would never be able to tell seeing his presentation.

George’s topic: Relationships in Education

He really showed us that the best way to teach our students is to connect with them and the easiest was to do that was through the use of technology.  Many teachers have the philosophy that cell phones, tablets, and even laptops don’t belong in the classroom.  My question to them is, why?  I think it would be interesting to see, as a percentage, how much time students spend using one of these devices.  My guess would be, while they are awake, very high.  If that’s the case, why are we not using this to our teaching advantage?

He also showed us how to develop relationships with the public.  Many teachers never share all the good work they do.  To make things work, the public’s opinion of teachers is that we are overpaid, protected by a large union which has a hand in the government’s pocket.  We are also perceived to be finished work at 3:00 and work 9 months of the year, not to mention our benefits.  However, if you ask any teacher, we don’t believe this is the case and that the public’s perception is incorrect.  Through social media, Twitter, Blogs, etc., we can show the public all the hard work we do and, hopefully, influence the public’s opinion of teachers.

We can even improve on our relationships with other teachers.  Many teachers are doing great things in their classrooms but that’s where the greatness stops.  Imagine a world where teachers could get a glimpse inside other teachers classrooms, not just within their department or school, but all over the world.  We would be able to create incredible classrooms based on the success (and failures) of other teachers.  By sharing all the great things we do, I hope that we can learn from each other, progressing towards world class classrooms all with the focus of further developing strategies to enhance student achievement.

Again, one of, or maybe even the best presentation I have seen as an educator.

Afternoon Session: Flipped Classroom Presentation

I am always looking to present at conferences because I believe that sharing some of the things I do in my classroom can help benefit teachers.  I see these conferences as a place to not only go and take in information but also to share what I am doing and have other teachers learn and comment on my strategies to help me improve.  After sending in a proposal, I was asked to present the ideas of a flipped classroom with Dianne Fitzpatrick (@LadyFitzee) and Ve Anusic (@MathManAnusic).  I have to say, these two teachers are the flipped classroom experts.  I really was the rookie of the group and learned a whole lot from them.  Our presentation can be found here.

I have to be honest.  While both Dianne and Ve create their own videos for teaching, I “cheat” and borrow the videos I use from previously made videos online.  I really have to thank Al Richards (@alrichards314) for all the work he has done and all the videos he has posted.  One of my students a few years ago found some of these videos and after watching them, I find them as a great resource for students.  His videos are clear, concise, and very informational.  Some of those in attendance at our session asked if I would make my own videos.  For the current time, my answer is no.  I really don’t believe in reinventing the wheel especially when the wheel was made so well.

I know that the flipped classroom is a fairly new development in education and that many teachers are moving or are wanting to move towards approach.  It was a little difficult at the beginning and does take a lot for students to buy into, but after a while, I believe they really do appreciate it.  The following are some quotes from my students regarding their thoughts on a flipped classroom:

“Your teaching style, thought it took some time to get used to, was very beneficial and independent.  It truly taught me to think for myself and to try twice as hard …”   – Jyot D.

“I like to watch ahead, and then do all the homework at the end of the unit.” – Sahil J.

“This flipped classroom approach was something new for me and I learned to be a more responsible individual. … I learned to teach myself rather than having to depend on you to teach me. … I actually did all my homework on time so that I could ask you any questions if I needed to.” – Inderjit K.

“In the beginning, I was a bit unsure of the idea / hesitant to try it out, however it wasn’t very long until I started to get the hang of it. … Watching the videos and going over the notes … encouraged us to learn independently and take initiative to ask questions when we needed assistance – instead of us just listening to you go through each and every lesson on the board every class … In addition, the flipped classroom gave us the opportunity to … use external resources, rather than only depending on a teacher as our learning tool.” – Natasha K.

“[B]ecause we were now doing homework in class, I could ask questions and have them answered in seconds, will full explanations.  … I came home not to do homework, but to learn even more … I think the best part about this learning experience was … this taught us another way to learn, and another way to teach ourselves at our own pace.” – Mai W.

If you have any questions on flipped classrooms please contact me or check out Dianne’s or Ve’s blog.

Overall, this was a great conference to attend.  I thought that the keynote speakers were phenomenal and really motivated me to further develop my digital footprint.  This is post 3 on this blog in the first 3 days that I have started blogging.  I very much doubt that I will continue at this pace, but I do hope to continue blogging on a very regular bases updating this based on my experiences at school and any professional development opportunities I experience encounter.  I have to say that I am much more excited to start school in a week than I have been since my first year teaching.  With this new knowledge, experience, and tools, I hope that my students can meet and exceed all of their expectations!

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2 thoughts on “Teaching and Learning in a Digital World Conference Reflection – Day 2

  1. Pingback: My Teaching Philosophy | Shelf-Made Girl

  2. Pingback: MFO Leadership Launch featuring Alec Couros (see #peelprez) | Teaches You Math

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