Friday, February 8, 2013

Teaching is never Shirley

How much can one learn, share, demonstrate in a few hours? At a conference or workshop that could be quite a bit and of course in the classroom we expect a lot. Last Thursday was no different than many days in our eight day fun packed schedule, but the variety of happenings was quite exciting.

One of our 7th grade students, Cam was recently asked to create an imovie about our innovative new Learning Commons to be shown at an upcoming NAIS conference - See Laura’s blog post for more about this and a link to the movie. This was a wonderful opportunity and challenge for this youngster who is also teaching an imovie class to his peers and me. We had to do some final edits and get the movie to Jamie in Memphis so at 9:30am the watching, reading and editing began and by 10am Cam had the last edits to finalize later in the day...onward to the next venture...

Cam with his new microphone
I then met up with Liz, a visiting teacher from The Randolph school, who had come to observe for the morning. We had a chat about our new learning space and how it has changed the way we collaborate, share and learn together. We looked at our middle school eight day schedule on our large screen for the students to follow and talked about my Medieval Global Studies curriculum. We ended with how technology can change our teaching and should be integrated into what we do.

At this point, I was also getting ready for a Skype call with grade 6 at St. Mary’s, our buddy school in Canada. We are in the middle of a great collaborative read aloud project, involving TodaysMeet, Google Docs, Animoto and The Phantom Tollbooth. My morning task before class, was to set up my my laptop to project our Skype call and also display the pages of the book - dual screens showing and we were ready...

What is a Humbug? Our takes on this character from The Phantom Tollbooth...

Our Skype call began at 10:40 with Liz observing. As I read the next chapter aloud to both classes, all students used TodaysMeet to have a thoughtful discussion on characters they could relate to and share what predictions they had for the next chapter. Our two classes really enjoy this kind of online chat, sharing, responding and questioning, and also finding out a lot about each other. One of my 6th graders recently said, “I think it is great to work globally. This may be the only time in my life I get to have a book group with people who live in another country. I love listening and sharing my ideas with them.”
Skyping with Canada

At 11:30 I had to change hats once again as I found myself in a Google Hangout with Damien McHugh from Derry, Northern Ireland. He is the organizer of Northern Ireland’s TeachMeet and we had met on Twitter during #niedchat. This was a test run as I had been invited to present on EdCamps in the USA to the first TeachMeet in north west Ireland. There were four of us in this hangout and it was fun to talk to colleagues so far away and test screen share options and sound levels. Everything worked well and we signed off ready for the actual event


And then there was exciting morning at PDS!

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