Another fabulous day in Wenatchi Hall, filled with openness on one side and the shadowed barriers on the other.
We shared ideas in a "Lesson Study" review of Dan Durr's lesson "Motion Probe Inquiry." Several different possibilities for alternative lessons were suggested. Most people enjoyed the freedom of the lesson -- a challenge to which we (students) needed to consider the elements, mathematics, and procedures to solve the challenge. I loved how groups shared their ideas, how the people who "knew stuff" jumped in and shared possible ways to proceed. People from different groups explained their strategies to others. Those with the confidence from their own knowledge brought in those with less confidence, explaining their thinking with math, diagrams, examples. By the end of the session, solutions were found and each person, I think, expanded their knowledge of lesson possibilities, student responses, and content knowledge. This was a powerful example of an open lesson.
Next, in Nancy Ridenour's excellent Google Session, we learned how easy it is to share ideas through the powerful collaborative tools of Google Apps. Everyone got the opportunity to create and share a document, and create and share a form. How great is that? How often do you get to actually play with the tools? That's the best part of expanding knowledge, and we use it in the classroom with kids; Nancy gave us the same consideration. Thanks!
When you sign up for a Google Account, you open your world up to 24/7 secure document access, with sharing extended to those you choose (one person, groups, public). What is Google Apps? Go to: Google Apps User Group Overview for many resources to learn about Google Apps. With one account, you can create online (public or private) documents, spreadsheets (and charts, tables), presentations, calendars, drawings, your maps, email, websites, photos, and forms (surveys, quizzes--self-grading, too). For a quick overview, click here; or the beginning here; for a ten-minute explanation of what and why, watch here.
How do I use Google? Here's our district website, my class website, and my class newsletter blog. Our technology meetings occur via Google Docs-- we discuss and collaborate on our own times: because we wear so many hats, finding time for a face-to-face meeting is difficult. Our student area is private, and our 6, 7, 8 grade students create pseudonyms ("code names") for all their online work. They link to templates for assignments that include links to areas for research; students copy the template, renaming it with their code name and sharing it with the teacher. Teachers can offer feedback through both comment features (on the right side of the document as we saw in Nancy's demo, or insert comments to specific areas), and students will share their work with a peer for peer feedback. Revision history shows who did what. All this work is available anytime, anywhere. Google has passed the strictest government security requirements; YOU control what is shared and to whom. I have created a shared document with links to information on using Google in the Classroom: Google Apps? For What? If you and your students have access to computers, even just a few in the classroom, Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is a great investment (free). Many classes have sets of iPod touches, and use Google docs with them.
In groups or in Nancy Ridenour's Google Session, we discussed barriers to many issues: vertical alignment, technology in the classroom, open lesson format. Sometimes, the solutions are outside the box and some are unsolved.
At any rate, the day was great. Thanks.
Reflect curiosity and wonder...
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...