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Notes from @edTechSummitsA’s event at @WitsUniversity yesterday. #ETSA16 #AxisEd #globalEd

The rooms were cold, but the atmosphere was warm and genial at our second summit of the EdTech Summit Africa tour. Our hosts for the day were the Global Teachers Institute (GTI) as a part of AXIS Summit and the Wits School of Education of University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Attendees were a mix of pre-service teachers and experienced educators, and the university’s techies worked hard to ensure that all had access to boosted wifi and logins for the many desktop computers in the learning labs. Karen Page (K2) and Mona Ewees launched the Wits Summit with an explanation of our team’s purpose to offer workshops, elevate technology use, model progressive education strategies, grow professional networks, and collaborate with new contacts. The day began with a raffle for four gently used iPad2 tablets. The enthusiasm and joy from the winners was heartwarming and balanced out the fact that the Glass Lab felt like an icebox.

We twelve presenters offered a variety of workshops to introduce different tools, ideas, and learning opportunities. During each of the three sessions or streams, attendees had four workshops from which to choose. Below is a link to the list of presenters and their workshops. Clicking on any workshop takes you to a fuller description and any linked resources: http://edtechsummitafrica.com/2016/presenters

When not teaching, presenters floated around assisting each other. My workshop about was during Stream 2, so during Stream 1, I helped in Claudia Stanfield’s session about using multimedia and web resources in the classroom, and during Stream 2, I was with Dr. Aletha Harven as she showed teachers how to use Google Forms as an assessment tool and Facebook as an online space for her class to share resources and launch discussions. At future summits, I hope to have a chance to hear from and learn with other workshop leaders including Anusheh HashimKevin BaloyiKaren Kirsch PageBonisile NtlemezaThandekile NgemaMabore LekalakalaSara KixmoellerRyan Waingortin, and Mona Ewees.

Claudia (@ClaudiaStany) began her session with attendees tossing around a beach ball inscribed with different cryptic SMS phrases written with a permanent marker. When people caught the ball, they had to announce the SMS acronym they touched and define it. Many of these were new to the older teachers and to me too, since I text like a grammar teacher, complete with mostly perfect punctuation and spelling. Examples from the activity included BBIAS (“be back in a second”), STADLTBBB (“sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite”), and ROTFL (“rolling on the floor laughing” which I insisted on demonstrating at the front of the room after some weird and unrepressed impulse to wake the sleeping thespian in me). Claudia talked about how games and multimedia tools increased student engagement. She then shared how Khan academy benefits learners with online access by allowing them to watch videos for enrichment and remedial purposes. Her school is in a deeply rural area and doesn’t have a supply of fresh running water – it is trucked in on a weekly basis – and wifi is available though slow. She uses KA Lite and an internal network to offer her students access to videos on desktops and Samsung tablets. KA Lite’s website describes its service as offering  an online learning experience in an offline environment. Here are Claudia’s resources: http://tiny.cc/claudiaedtech2016

During my session, I started by sharing some of my favorite things to remind students: Everything you put on the internet is public, personal, and traceable and we should strive to always make wise choices since posted information is either public or less public – there is no such thing as privacy online. I then demonstrated how I keep track of my professional learning, projects, presentations, and accomplishments in a digital portfolio. I suggested that with Google Sites, anyone could quickly and easily build a space to gather and curate their own artifacts to both represent themselves as teachers and learners and to keep track of their class’s work – especially in light of the fact that many teachers in South Africa have to answer to a Subject Advisor who assesses whether they’ve met a set criteria of curricular goals and checkpoints. I was really happy that Anusheh Hashim (@dearmshashim) and Ryan Waingortin (@ryanwaingo) came in to assist, as they immediately helped participants log in to the desktop machines in the computer lab. Wits University had many modern conveniences which I’m told may not be available at other sites on our tour — plenty of computers, wifi, ceiling mounted projectors, large screens at the front of the room, and a well-functioning heater. Here are my slides from the workshop:

During the last stream, Aletha (@DrAlethaHarven) began with a video from Edutopia about the “Net Generation” and offered examples of how she uses digital media to reach her students on tools they gravitate towards anyway. Aletha asked attendees to fill out a short Google Form of questions to assess their comprehension of the video. She then shared the results of the form with attendees and tasked them with creating their own form which could assess something they may cover in their class. She stressed that Google forms could be used to take the pulse of the class and allow teachers to gain an understanding of what needs to be further reviewed at future class sessions. Aletha also talked with attendees about how they can use social media platforms, specifically Facebook, to provide an online space to gather and extend their class discussions. Here are Aletha’s resources:  http://tiny.cc/alethaedtech2016

After the third session of the day, attendees had an opportunity to return back to any of the classrooms in order to ask questions or seek additional information from workshop presenters. They also had time to reflect, tweet, and write a lesson plan incorporating skills and strategies they gathered during the summit. When everyone regrouped in the frosty Glass Room, an iPads 6 iPads were given away bringing the total to 10. We joked that K2 was like the Oprah of EdTech, “YOU get an iPad! And YOU get an iPad!” One attendee was awarded an iPad for submitting a terrific lesson plan, an additional four iPads were raffled, and @CindylopaS earned an iPad for their social media contributions during the day (quality as well as quantity of posts was considered).

Looking forward to our third summit on July 15 at Babati Primary!

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Yay for another #edcampnyc and mazel tov to @hadleyjf for her new position as Executive Director of @edcampusa!

An empty session board at the start of any edcamp is full of promise. On Saturday, I helped organize another edcampnyc event (our 7th!), and like all other edcamps, it was a day of participant-driven learning and sharing. Attendees arrived and posted conversational strands onto the empty session board, and people who posted to the board were responsible for facilitating a conversation rather than presenting or lecturing.

It takes a village, and edcampnyc couldn’t have happened without generous help from the following angels: The NYEdTech Meetup Group for again sponsoring a wonderful breakfast, Ian Klapper and Alex Ragone of City and Country School for hosting and supporting the event at their beautiful school, Katy Gartside and Ann Oro for their planning and organizing prowess!

IMG_9596Hadley Ferguson is the newly appointed Executive Director of the Edcamp Foundation. Hadley discussed her new role via #SatChat live from @edcampNJ. (#SatChat is a weekly Twitter chat about education and administration which takes place on Saturday mornings.) Hadley then hopped a train and joined us at edcampNYC! Kim Sivick was also in attendance at edcampNYC. Hadley and Kim (and an amazing group of inspiring and innovative educators) organized the first edcamp in Philadelphia (@edcampPhilly) in May of 2010 and later founded the Edcamp Foundation to support and grow the Edcamp movement. This group of awesome people altered the traditional model of Professional Development, empowered teachers around the world, begat communities of educators sharing and learning together, and changed my life.

Besides hanging with Hadley and Kim, it was gratifying to greet many familiar faces, many new faces, and even folks who had never been to an edcamp before. It was also awesome to follow the tweets generated during the day and gather/promote these from the @edcampnyc account. There were some great topics offered, and luckily many sessions had notetakers or someone who started a shared GoogleDoc. See our November 2014 session board with links to any notes below:

I’ve had a few people ask me for advice on how to organize an edcamp. Here are some bare essentials:

  1. Attend an edcamp!
  2. Reserve a Gmail account with edcamp***@gmail.com (where *** is your theme or geographic location).
  3. Use the Google Drive associated with edcamp***@gmail.com to create a digital spreadsheet for your event’s schedule (this can be linked and embedded on your event’s website).
  4. Use this Gmail address to reserve edcamp*** on Twitter.
  5. Reserve edcamp*** on a blogging platform (like WordPress or Blogger) to communicate details about the event. Buy the edcamp***.org, edcamp***.net, edcamp***.com, or edcamp***.info domain name if you like.
  6. Add your event’s info to the official edcamp wiki.
  7. Find a space to host your event, preferably a school with a robust Wifi network, easy to locate rooms and bathrooms, projectors or screens in classrooms, a large common area for announcements and networking, space for a physical paper schedule, space for breakfast set up, and hopefully one who will foot the insurance bill.
  8. Locate a breakfast sponsor.
  9. See what help the Edcamp Foundation can provide in terms of sponsor and insurance.
  10. Set up a ticketing page using Ticketleap or Eventbrite or Meetup to handle registration.
  11. Promote! Use Twitter (get other edcamps to tweet about your event), your PLN, Google+, Facebook, call schools directly, contact graduate schools of education…

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In Katie Reimer’s 8th math class, analyzing stocks with Google spreadsheets and formulas:

 

http://google.com/finance
Katie Reimer, 8th grade Algebra teacher at The School at Columbia University, stopped by yesterday to talk about her upcoming mini-unit on stock prices and percent changes. She wanted students to figure out relationships between today’s price, yesterday’s closing price, and price from one year ago today. She asked about ways to assess this, and we decided to use information located via Google Finance and a Google Spreadsheet with formulas to calculate change on day and change over a year. Students chose 10 stocks based on products they use everyday and analyzed their changes. Tomorrow, kids will take the roles of front office and back office to assess each other’s research.

Katie left finance in 2008, and it’s been a pleasure to join her class and learn math with someone who has used it in the real world. I’m pretty sure these 8th grader’s are more financially savvy then me at this point…

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