TCEA 2020

What an incredible two weeks of learning {Facebook blog from last week coming soon}! If you have not had the opportunity to attend TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) yet, you must add it to your list of can’t-miss-conferences. I have been going to TCEA for about 10 years and it seems that every year gets better and better. One of the reasons, in my opinion, is the amount of connections made with those who share the same passions. There is definitely something to be said about surrounding yourself with innovative minds who have a common goal to help students achieve learning goals. 

Learner

At my core, I am always learning and wanting to learn and so conference time always gives me the opportunity to stretch my capacity for what is possible and what I know. I explore sessions, first, that I know nothing about or that I am fully aware I have not 100% grasped yet. Here are a few sessions that inspired me: 

•ARVRJaime Donnally: I attended two of her sessions and I did the same last year. For me, it is never enough. I always find myself wanting to learn more from her and be more comfortable in the ARVR Education space. Her sessions are always hands-on and get me out of my comfort zone. {I still haven’t gotten my MergeCube but it IS on my list!}

•eSports – I find myself so intrigued by the entire concept of this idea. Could it be that I am a kid of the 80’s and knew at an early age that I loved all things tech including Atari and Nintendo games? I still don’t have my brain wrapped around the idea fully, but want to explore more and see what that might look like in my district. I approached this one pretty slow and gathered some notes and names of go-to people.

•DigCit Marialice, well, if you know her then you know. Thankfully, James {Wakelet} connected us last year. After one Google Hangout call we were friends for life. I don’t often meet people that get as excited as I do about the possibilities of working with students and digital citizenship! I planned to see Marialice’s session, but a week or so before TCEA she asked me to present with her. So I put some Buncee slides together and highlighted how SWAT and I are creating a better digital space online and in our school community. Even though I was part of the presentation I found myself taking notes and photos of things I wanted to remember. Shoutout to fellow panelists Michael Drezek and Laura Steinbrink

•“Not in the App” Sessions – These are the conversations that happen while waiting in line for the bathroom, for a session, while sitting in a session or after the day is over during dinner or meet-ups. These conversations may last a few minutes or a few hours, but for me these connections grown me as an educator sometimes more than a “sit-n-get” session. Shoutout to Patrick (@edtechmcmillian) and Stephanie (@lispylibrarian) for the great discussions and learning! You inspire me! 

•Creativity is my Jam Brian Romero Smith, Amy Storer, Marialice, & Claudio: So I first went to support my friends, but then like always that turned into a learning party, reunion with friends, selfies and me wanting to learn more about all the creativity apps this panel showed! Two things I walked out with: 1) Even though I cannot rap to save my life {without the Eminem karaoke soundtrack} Flocabulary can help! 2) My designs don’t need to be perfect in order to show students and offer them the opportunities to use them to create in the classroom. 

Presenter

I didn’t start sharing and presenting until I had been in education for 13 years and then had to take 4 years off to care for my #superJace who is childhood cancer survivor. Finally in 2017, I decided it was time to start sharing again and push myself out of my comfort zone once more. I always have to remind myself that presenting never means I have all the answers. It is an opportunity to share what I’m doing and learning in my own classroom with my students and teachers.

Flipgrid – So many times when I set out to create a new presentation I feel like it is not my best work (if you know about the enneagram personality profiles – I am a 1, so this makes complete sense 😂 ). This was the case as I finished this year’s Flipgrid presentation “ Innovation, Inspiration and Leadership.” Even as a seasoned presenter, I wondered if it would help anyone at all. I quickly realized there are so many incredible facets to the Flipgrid platform that we ALL got something out of it!  After both sessions, I left wishing I had more than 50 minutes with the attendees. I can tell you that without Flipgrid, I would not have been able to pull off assessing @SWAT, my student leader tech team. This tool keeps getting better and as a founding ambassador I can tell you that the Flipgrid team is one of the best to work with! If you have yet to use Flipgrid, please reach out to me! I would love to connect and share!

Buncee – One of the things that really attracted me to use Buncee was their backstory and the fact that Michael Drezek recommended it to me. {Ha! If you don’t follow Drezek, go now!} So after using it about 7 months, they asked me to share at the TCEA Buncee booth. Ironically, about that same time, one of my students surprised me by telling me each time she had a choice to create something at school she was using Buncee. I, immediately, scheduled time with her to sit side-by-side with me so she could give me feedback on my presentation! This group made sharing so much fun and they are always so helpful!

Wakelet- If you don’t know about Wakelet or the fact that they have taken the EDU scene by storm, 🤷🏻‍♀️. Every single session I was in at TCEA referenced their “Wakelet Collections.” Whether it was for additional resources, their main presentation medium, or how they were using Wakelet to house their student activities, portfolios or their own lessons. I shared so much about Wakelet and how the Fligprid and Buncee integrations can go right into a collection that I lost my voice! In addition, I enjoyed sharing at their TCEA Booth about their new Student Ambassador Program and how I was using the tool with my teachers! SWAT and I had the honor of working with the team on the Student Ambassador tasks, learning goals, and feedback to make it the best flow for students around the globe. If you’re interested in bringing hands-on digital citizenship into your classroom for FREE, check it out and sign up here

Other Highlights

Spazmatics – this band has become a TCEA bonding experience from some of us and this year was no different! They play every Wednesday night at 9 on Cedar Street in Austin and put on a great show! This year it even SNOWED while we enjoyed their 80’s flashback concert.

#TCEA2020

Voice and Choice: PD with Educators

This year we have implemented PLC times with our core content areas. What this means for me is that for the first time in the 12 years as a digital learning coach I have specific time set aside to coach and lead my teachers toward technology implementation.

This also means consistency with the information I share and open discussions with teams of teachers to foster a culture of trust and risk taking.

Each year I meet with campus leaders to find out more about their technology campus goals with their teachers. This year we switched from a 1:1 Mac Air environment with our students to a 1:1 iPad environment and because of that our campus leader’s vision was for each teacher to take just one risk with technology integration.

IMG_0225As many of you know for some educators even one risk is big and scary and definitely not comfortable. For the last few months, I have transitioned my teachers from the typical sit-and-get professional development to more of a collaborative, flexible seating and risk taking environment.

I first read The Future of the Classroom in June and found that it aligns with much of what I’ve learned in my UNT Learning Technologies course work about how students learn, how to best implement technology, and pedagogy.

The next article I came upon presented rooms like the one I created as a “teacher’s playground.” I loved reading how this idea began sparking change across the author’s school district. I recommend you read more about the “Spark Lab” here.

One of the biggest challenges I had before as a digital coach is not having enough time to allow the teachers to explore the tools we have on campus, the digital resources they have access to, and the ability to collaborate as a whole team.

Today I decided to take a risk with my own teachers and present them with two choices for their PD time:

  1. Work with a partner through a Choice Board in Google Docs to get better with iPad Navigation and Settings.
  2. Work with a partner using the S. M. A. R. T. goals and applying them to their 1 technology risk.

Both choices were going to meet goals we have set. One goal is to get them more comfortable with the device change and have them see the benefits to student learning using accessibility options. Another goal is to elevate their T-TESS levels as they implement technology into their classrooms. A few weeks ago, we used mentimeter as a quick formative assessment tool to see some of their risk taking goals for the semester/year. So I popped their results back up on the screen as a refresher and then…

IMG_0224

I turned on some Piano Guys and let them begin collaborating!

You see if we want teachers to give students choices in their learning and opportunities to collaborate, we have to be willing to show them how to do this with them as they learn.  We cannot ask our educators to do something in their classrooms that we are not willing to do when they are spending time with us (administrators, coaches, leaders).

Our teachers need choice and voice in their professional development.

They need time to reflect, talk, ask questions and take risks. It is up to us to immerse them in the same learning environment we want them to use with our students. When they see student voice and choice in action and can refer back to their own personal experience with it, they will begin implementing it in their classrooms!

I would love to collaborate with you and share more about how I created this experience for my teachers! Reach out to me and let me know if you would like to schedule an online meeting or email me with any quick questions you might have!