EdTechTeam hosts Google Summits around the world and this past weekend one was held in Manchester, CT. On their website, EdTechTeam boasts their summits are, “High-intensity, conference-style events focus on the latest in educational technology and emerging pedagogy.”
The morning began with a key note from Rushton Hurley, educator, founder and executive director of the educational nonprofit Next Vista for Learning, which houses a free library of hundreds of short videos by and for teachers and students. Hurley spoke about the fun and cool of getting better.
“The only person to who you every need compare yourself is the you who you were yesterday.” — Rushton Hurley
Hurley highlighted three elements of becoming better educators:
- Rapport: Creating a rapport with means standing outside your classroom door before class and telling students, “I’m glad you’re here.” Additionally, there is power in a positive phone call home. He asked all participants to make a positive phone call home. The key is that it is the little things that matter.
- Delivery: Rather than raise your voice have a sound making tool like a cow bell — okay, he is from Texas, think of other sound making tools that you might use for your students, chimes or even a theme song. To captivate your audience you need to get every student feeling confident to where they can contribute to meaningful discussions. Check out this weather man’s delivery:
Think about your delivery to create engaging activities especially for students who need something a little different. Hurley states, “The good minutes we craft, that is what matters.”
3. Find the fun in teaching and learning. Create a classroom environment where dynamic learning and exploring are the norm. Find the cool in what you do and build off of it. Little things can allow for big improvement. Fun is about being excited about learning
I later attended a session with Hurley titled 4 Fun and powerful activities for starting the class strong. These four activities included:
2. Use an image to start active engagement. Show an image that might not directly connect to the discussion but students can begin to surmise a connection or theme.
4. Videos is a teaching tool. Rushton’s nonprofit, Next Vista for Learning, which houses a free library of hundreds of short videos by and for teachers and students is a great resource to share videos and inspire students to create videos.
On a side note, my current students in the media literacy class I teach each semester are creating videos to highlight problems in the world and they will be submitting their videos to Next Vista for feedback and distribution.
A third workshop I attended was on differentiation with Google Classroom presented by instructional technologist, Taneesha A. Thomas. In this session teachers set up a differentiated project and learned how to manage it using Google Classroom. This hands on session we put the knowledge we had about differentiation into action and learned other ways to use Google Classroom to create a more collaborative environment.
According to Edutopia differentiation:
Build lessons, develop teaching materials, and vary your approach so that all students, regardless of where they are starting from, can learn content effectively, according to their needs.
Here are a few Google tricks to individualize and differentiate in Google Classroom:
You can assign work to individual students – No two students work at exactly the same pace on every lesson. The ability to choose which students receive specific assignments is the basis for differentiation. Think about providing remediation lessons for students who need more practice or providing extension activities for students who have mastered content is another method for differentiation which can be easily handled in Classroom.
With Classroom, this process is streamlined to enable teachers to create leveled work and assign it to individuals or groups of students. Teachers simply have to create assignments and choose students to receive it. Students are unable to see which other students have the same or different assignments.
Cater to Learning Styles – It’s easy to cater to multiple learning styles with Classroom. When students submit work, they are offered options for uploading their creations. Included in those options are items such as attaching files, links, Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Drawings. The possibilities are only limited by teacher and student imaginations.
Google Classroom is designed to support differentiation for your students, making it easy to adjust which students get which assignments, provide a variety of learning resources with the assignment, and support student choice in the product they create to demonstrate what they have learned.