Doug Preikschat May 2-3, 2016 IT Summit 2016

The first day’s keynote asked a couple of big “what if’s.” What if creativity drove instruction? What if teachers learned from students? I think the gist is to focus instruction on individual student interests and then give the students opportunities to respond in individual and creative ways.
The same presenter carried on in the next session which was on productivity for Google apps and Office 365 users. Her school division in Texas has staff using Office 365 and the students using Goole apps. Her school division is stuck on Microsoft, like ours, while the Google apps are more user friendly for their students. They have some problems sharing between the two platforms. One solution they came up with is an Office plugin that allows the option to save to Google Drive. She also demonstrated how converting and saving between the platforms seemed to get rid of some of the compatibility issues.
The same presenter did a session on storytelling using an Adobe tool called Slate. It works like a blog maker in that it allows the user to pull in pics and vids and links. It’s user friendly. It also has a voice app. Coupled with the templates in Slate, it makes it easy for students to pull in content and then narrate.
I was planning to sit in on a 2 hour session in the afternoon on using tech for assessment. The presenters had quite a few technical glitches. I bailed after an hour and joined a session on starting elementary students in coding. The presenter gave a bunch of links to sites with coding activities for kids as young as preschool. A lot of the activities were “unplugged,” which means they are done without computers. The kids learn the problem solving skills for coding and the language of coding. A lot of the links have students write code to create games. It looks like fun.
The Tuesday morning keynote speaker spoke on becoming a globally connected teacher. Teachers need to be globally minded to help students gain the skills necessary for the 21st and 22nd centuries. The speaker says the keys are to connect globally using social media and share our knowledge. We also need to give students opportunities to do likewise.
The theme of sharing carried into the next session on documenting learning. The presenter says teacher documentation of student learning and students’ documentation of their own learning has to be shared. That’s where the tech comes in. Digitally documented learning is easier to share than print documented stuff. This could be as easy as having students record their progress using an app like the voice app in Adobe Slate. The students can then reflect on their learning and share it. An added bonus is that the students are also building their own digital footprint.
The next section was on helping students become good digital citizens. The presentation was based on a new Sask government document aimed at schools as the agents for building digital citizenship. I’ve read the document. The focus of it is to teach citizenship in the context of the Internet. In otherwords, kids need to have opportunities to be online to practise good citizenship skills.
The last session was on how to run a paperless classroom. The presenter showed us the apps she uses to pass and deliver her course work. We also looked at the apps her students use to complete and submit their work. It looks fairly doable. The best part, I think, is that the tech makes it easier her her to give the students quick summative and formative feedback.
A big takeaway for me are the contacts I made. I did not find anyone else with a one room school, but I did get a better sense of what people are doing in a wide range of class situations. Because most of the tech can be applied in the classroom at any scale, most of what I saw could be used to individualize instruction for my tiny little one room school in the bush.