I do not have a certification to teach English Language Learners. I registered for this as an opportunity to learn how I can support the use of technology to meet the needs of our large ELL population. One of the main things I took away from this day is that many of the digital tools and learning strategies I use and promote as a digital learning coach also align with learning tools and strategies that are beneficial for ELLs. Some of these include:
- Evernote for oral test administration- We were doing this about 4 years ago using ipod touches in the classroom. We recorded test questions in a note. Students using a printed test could click on the audio files to have the question read to them.
- Annotation Apps for Pictoral Representations- Using Skitch, students can create their own picture library with annotations to learn new vocabulary. I was thinking that if students have their own devices, they could take pictures throughout the day that represented language concepts that they wanted to acquire. They could then work with teachers or English speaking students to record audio files and written text to go with their pictures.
- Zaption.com was a completely new tool for me. It allows you to embed video and insert questions to check understanding of the content. I can see multiple contexts for this including professional development. EduCanon and TedEd will do this as well.
Since professional development planning and delivery is one of my primary roles, I wanted to hear about new trends and strategies in this area.
- Northwest ISD's Rory Peacock @ gave a great presentation on how they have moved from professional development focused on digital tools to a concept-based PD model. This is fantastic because we all know it's not about the tools, its about the learning. This is a much more authentic and effective model that will allow them to focus on the big picture of 21st century education.
- iTechNation (@mtomaselli, @jelmhorst54, @jpbigboy) from Aldine ISD and Round Rock ISDs Instructional Technology department are leveraging the power of webcasts to reach a broader audience in a more efficient manner. Learners can login to participate live or watch recorded sessions on demand. It's a great way to differentiate professional development and offer choice.
- Schertz-Cibolo educators Linda Coolbaugh, Candee Mills and Lana Pratt engaged attendees in dialog around the challenges of creating and delivering effective PD. Choice was a hot topic with most people agreeing that professionals need to have choice and voice concerning their own learning. We also discussed the importance of professional learning communities as well as the importance of reflection and follow ups to learning. I was able to make a connection to several people in the session who are interested in continuing the discussion specifically related to badging as a component of professional development.
- Steven Anderson aka @web20classroom was a fantastic presenter who shared his ideas for flipping PD. The big idea- stop wasting teachers' time at meetings by disseminating information that can be shared more efficiently in other ways. The time teachers have together should be spent on meaningful dialog and work that impacts students. He advocates for keeping it simple (less content) and including time for reflection.
Choice- For Students and Teachers
Let's face it; today's society not only enjoys, but expects choices in everything we do. Access to a variety of content on a variety of devices at our convenience the norm. Why shouldn't we expect choices in our learning? The Innosight Institute projects that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be delivered online giving students a choice of where they learn, how they learn and the pace of their learning. @mandyrbryan and @pwagnerlicd shared a fantastic presentation called Student Choice, Student Voice: Differentiate in which they shared ideas for creating and using menus and choice boards to target various learning styles, cognitive levels and personal interests of students. They shared resources for choice boards and gave example of how they could be used.
In several sessions I went to, the concept of teacher choice was discussed. As professionals, we want to continue to improve our practice and we generally know the areas we need to develop. Having choices and autonomy in learning raises the level of professionalism for teachers, helps develop a growth mindset and improves moral.
George Couros @gcouros was a crowd pleaser as usual and I enjoyed his session on Leading Innovative Change.
I have spent the week glued to my twitter feed, organizing notes from sessions, investigating new tools and reading articles and blog posts. My brain has reached its carrying capacity and I need to process so I have space for more by SXSWedu next month!