In beautiful, upstate New York, SUNY Empire State College and Saratoga Springs City School District hosted the 3rd annual Learning with Innovative Technology (LIT) Conference. The goal of the conference was, “to bring teachers, scholars and practitioners together to share knowledge about the effective use of educational technologies that will provide more enriching learning experiences.” With more than 40 workshops and hands on learning experiences throughout the day, there were many opportunities for collaborative learning and enriching educational experiences. Sessions included gamification, project based learning, digital citizenship, robotics, virtual reality, makerspace, and STEM.
I presented a session titled, “Operation Game Design: Building Quests for Personalized Learning In Your Classroom.” This session provided teachers with an introduction to gamification versus game based learning and a step by step approach to building a quest for classroom learning. Participants learned how to organize an overarching mission in which assignments are like a sequence of game levels students need to successfully complete in order to “rank up” and complete all the required learning targets. To view the presentation slides, see below. For your own copy of the game design template, click here.
After presenting, I was excited to attend other sessions and continue to learn from other experts leading workshops at the conference. I attended a session in the afternoon on “Making Google Forms Engaging Using Branching Form (Assessments and Scavenger Hunts)” led by Carolyn Strauch where I learned how to extend the standard Google Form by making it interactive with the ability to guide students and lead them through prompts based on their answers. I love this as a way to scaffold student writing based on their responses to questions and answers. Here is a video for more clarity.
I am a proponent of Socratic Seminars and after building out a short response assignment for my students with scaffolded prompts in Google Forms, I moved on to a session titled, “Socratic Seminar, Meet Social Media” presented by Sarah Fiess. In a Socratic circle, participants seek deeper understanding of complex ideas in the text through thoughtful dialogue, rather than by memorizing bits of information. A Socratic Circle is not debate. The goal of this activity is to have participants work together to construct meaning and arrive at an answer, not for one student or one group to “win the argument.” Not only did we participate in a socratic circle, we examined this teaching practice as a way to engage ALL students in the conversation utilizing back channels and reflections created in Google Forms.
The last session I attended was “Beyond Hating Group Work” presented by Theresa Gilliard-Cook. We all assign group work in our classrooms but how do we make group work more effective and engaging, rather than hated and dysfunctional. Teachers need to be intentional about group projects and scaffold collaborative work for it to be successful. Creating a list of teamwork projects and possible solutions, particularly regarding conflict is useful. Additionally, providing videos and articles how to resolve conflict, creating a list how to work through conflict, and providing specifics how you, the teacher will get involved when conflict arises. Tech tools like Google, Slack, and Padlet are three student collaboration tools.