How do I begin?!? #OneWord . . . innovative, technology, learning, or even global. All of these would be perfect as a theme for Imperial Valley #GafeSummit. But I’m choosing relationships, definitely relationships. Let's get started . . .
Before the Summit even began, the team building started. Our district technology coordinator, @aromayorjr, rallied our technology team and invited us to the two day event. What an amazing opportunity! I immediately jumped on Twitter and started researching presenters, the #GafeSummit hashtag, and the @EdTechTeam that was the event sponsor. With summits all over the USA, Australia, and even South Africa, we were in for a treat! The presenters at the Imperial Valley GAFE Summit were a varied and proficient group indeed! Weeks before, my colleagues and I scoured the schedule ranking and many times reranking presentation choices. Finally, the weekend was here. How did it start? With a group photo, of course. You know . . . if there’s no photo, it didn’t happen.
Once we got started, the personal connections really began to develop. In a Google Forms presentation, by @MsVenturino, I sat by a colleague that was new to forms. She’s been wanting to embrace technology but has a bit of trepidation, much like I’ve had myself. By the end of the session, she created a form with a sense of satisfaction. The following week, we ran into each in the copy room. She excitedly told me that she created a Google Classroom account, uploaded a Google Form, and is ready to experiment. How exciting is that?!? As part of @MsVenturino’s presentation, she shared how she has students complete Google Form surveys in her Google Classroom account. Many times the surveys not only show academics, but also valuable insights into their eating and sleep patterns that may play a role in their learning. By creating an environment of trust and collaboration, we can really get to know our students, build a safe learning space, and support our students both academically and socially.
Another colleague and I, @tollefson404, learned about 20% Time with @MathPrincessChoi. Let me tell you, she knows how to develop relationships. She nailed it within the first 5 minutes. I’ve been reading about Passion Projects and 20% Time for the past year now. Princess Choi wrapped the concept up nicely. Allowing students to spend part of their learning cycle researching, creating, and implementing projects of their own choosing, connections will be made between students and the education system. By tapping into student’s personal interests, they’ll be eager to come to school, participate in learning, and have positive interactions with their peers and teachers. Sounds like a recipe for success to me. Our students are in for a real treat next year with 20% Time. For more, watch the following TedTalk by @KevinBrookhouser.
If you’re looking at getting to the core of learning, then @JasonMMarkey is a man to follow. The man is FULL of inspiration. He was the main host for the weekend. His keynote, as well as sessions, clearly conveyed that connecting with students, colleagues, our community, and even global interactions are vital to success in our school. At the core of his message, is “The Golden Circle.” Developed by @SimonSinek, the circle places the onus of “why” above the “how” and the “what.” Simon says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Educationally, if we, as teachers, can effectively express to our students why we are completing tasks and activities, we will be able to tap into their intrinsic learning. How many times did we, as students, ask why? More than we can count, I’m sure. It’s time to be intentional about why we are teaching. Jason was full of inspirational quotes. As a high school principal, he builds relationships not only with the students on campus, but also with teachers and staff. He has the same vision for both . . . “A Mission to Improve . . . with Permission to Struggle.” Now that’s some relationship building I can get on board with! Thanks, Jason!
Ok, this was the session I was most excited about. If you’re not familiar with BreakOutEdu, it was started by @JamesTSanders in 2014. He and friends participated in a live “Escape Room” session. They ended up being locked in with a group of high school students and had to solve clues in order to escape. While watching the group, he was taken aback at how engaged the kids were. He reimagined the concept into a series of breakouts from a locked box. @EdTechAri was one of the first to beta test some games. She brought a box to El Centro with her for us to experience. In our breakout, we had 4 locks: two number locks, a direction lock, and an alphabet lock. With clues hidden around the room, technology devices available, and a lot of teamwork, we broke out in 20 minutes and 11 seconds. The educational take-away for me is definitely the 4Cs of Common Core. By utilizing collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity, students can successfully solve clues and breakout of the box. @MsVenturino also presented her digital breakout games. Check them out here . . . https://sites.google.com/site/digitalbreakoutjb/. My sixth graders have done several of them and they are a blast to watch!!! The leaderships skills, stealth students that solve a code, and perseverance that emerges is phenomenal. I’ve ordered my box. I can’t wait for it to arrive!!!
While many of the presentations were connecting at a one-to-one level, @DeeLanier, made more global connections. At the opening keynote, Dee challenged participants to #ThinkOpen. Dee’s vision is to “leave no digital child left behind.” By opening up digital availability, platforms, and opportunities, our 21st Century learners will be on equal footing in the global digital market. Even though #ThinkOpen is geared towards technology, Dee’s personal message spoke volumes about relationships. Early in life, he wanted to go into ministry. He’s kept this heart for others at the forefront of his career as an educator. By building relationships, and even opening up his lesson plans to his students, Dee has made huge strides in the academic and social/emotional gains of his students. Both in Title 1 schools and economically advanced schools, Dee’s passion towards relationships has been profound. Although he is an advocate for technology integration, his use of Mind Maps is somewhat of a trade mark. Mind Map inventor, @Tony_Buzan, greatly influenced Dee. Dee brought the practice to us as we created mind maps focusing on our family, friends, food, and fun. By starting with the familiar, our minds were able to wander and make connections seamlessly. This activity was the first one that my partner and I implemented. They turned out great!
As the summit ended, it felt like summer camp. Remember those days? You go to camp nervous and excited, both at the same time. Within hours you’re meeting new people, experiencing new thoughts and activities, tired at the end of the day, and ready for more. That’s how the #GafeSummit was. Summer camp . . . in two days. To all the participants and presenters, thank you so much for a weekend of learning, stretching, and most importantly relationship building.
Kudos to all involved!!!
Love, . . . Marilyn