Olathe Summer Conference: Ten Tech Skills for Transforming Teaching and Learning w/ Zachary Walker

Zachary Walker threw so many ideas at me in his session it’s taken me a month to digest it all. I picked up so many tips, tricks and tools. However, like he recommends in his session, I came away with 10 ideas/tips that I want to try out.
1. www.govote.at and www.mentimeter.com were great websites where students could submit a quick response to a poll question. It was cool to see the results posted on the screen. This could be a great formative assessment tool.
2. www.tcea.org/ipad has a HUGE selection of Apps divided into subject and topics. If you need an app for anything, then this is the place to go.
3. One of the first things I will implement when the kids get their iPads is the phrase “dock your device.” With this instruction the kids will put their iPads in the upper right hand corner of their desk.
4. I also want to implement “hands up” where kids put their hands in the air. This is a great way for me to check if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.
5. I would like to use photos to have the kids take pictures of things that connect to the stories we read. Sometimes they will take a picture of someone who reminds them of a character. Sometimes I will have them take a picture that conveys the theme of the novel.
6. Video would be a great tool for the kids to record for conferences. They could talk to their parents about what they’ve done at school and what they are the most proud of.
7. One of the most important things for a student to learn is how to search in Google. I would like to spend a lot of time 1st quarter teaching the kids this skill.
8. One of my favorite activities from the session was “find an app, video or website” where students would find one of those related to what we are studying. This would then become a great resource for kids to look at.
9. Todays Meet is a great source for back channel discussions. This could be a good way of taking notes during a video. Kids could discuss the video while they are watching it to keep them engaged.
10. One thing I want to have each student do is write several goals at the beginning of the year and use www.futureme.org to send those goals to themselves at the end of the year. It would be a great chance for reflection.

Olathe Summer Conference: Close Reading w/ Doug Fisher

Close reading is designed for texts that are above the students comfort level for independent reading. It is the process of reading a text multiple times from multiple different angles to get a better understanding of the text. There should be a balance in school between stamina reading (quantity) and complex/close reading (quality).
One of the things that surprised me about the session was the discussion of multiple ways to scaffold reading. I’ve always been under the impression that it is best to frontload a text before reading the text to give the kids background knowledge. Instead the presenter encouraged backend or distributed scaffolding with more emphasis on backend scaffolds. This encourages students to develop/figure out what a texts means and draw their own meanings about the text. Then give them context, and they develop a deeper understanding of the text.
I also liked his method of annotation. They use 3 main annotations: underline main ideas, circle words/phrases that are confusing, and make margin notes tot restate the author’s ideas.
There were several other quick tips I plan to implement this coming school year. One is to have the students make text to self connections after they read a text. This allows them to interpret what the author intended instead of what they think it means. Another great tip was to print a larger copy of the article and carry it around on a clipboard. While the students are working the teacher can make notes over where the kids struggle and what questions the kids are writing down. Another tip was to start with a question all of the kids will know the answer to. This positive boost can help their confidence in tackling a difficult text. The final great tip involved looking at the 3 levels of questions: 1. What does the text say? (literal) 2. How does the text work? (structural) 3. What does the text mean?
Ultimately, the session can be summed up in one question the presenter asks his kids: What are you inspired to do in response to this text?