I had an interesting experience on Friday while I was doing a professional development session. While I was relaying my personal experiences with assistive technology one of the teachers said “I am writing down that quote!” the phrase in question:
“When the mechanics of writing limits a student’s creativity, technology can intercede on their behalf”.
Technology has been interceding on my behalf my entire life. And yes, I realize I just quoted myself, sad but true. So, besides being a little giddy that someone actually thought I was quote worthy, I was touched that I could relay a concept that is near and dear to me. I began to relay my personal story of being a special education student who did not learn how to read until I was in the third grade. I presented some of the modifications that I currently make in my daily life to adapt and to work efficiently. In addition I was also able to share how Google Apps helped me make modifications for one of my children who also has an IEP.
The add-on that I show the teachers was speech recognition in Google Docs, in fact I'm using that add-on right now to do this blog post. I shared with these teachers that there are many students that I've had in the past, that were so intimidated about the creative process, because they found the mechanics required by project were insurmountable. Really these students needed to do to express their ideas and opinions is start drafting using this speech recognition add-on, why not throw the EasyBib add-on for good measure? Here is a quick demo:
I've had a lot of experience using Google Apps for Education with a variety of children that had limitations placed on them by learning disabilities or physical challenges. Myself being a “card carrying IEP” dyslexic has found that Google Apps for Education has truly freed me in many ways.
Also, I shared that using these tools freed me to express my thoughts and follow my whims of my hyperlinking mind, which is often not where the typical thought process goes. Many times I have been someone who thoughts come completely out of left field. As a child this was really hard for me. I usually knew the answers or could arrive at them, I just didn't get them out fast enough. That is one of the reasons why I love instructional technology so much, it frees me to express my opinions, research topics that are meaningful to me, and publish for an audience. I realize that my writing is not perfect, nor will it ever be, but I refuse to allow fear to stop my creativity again. My writing is imperfect, as such, it is a honest representation of myself.
Along with technology, one of the other resources that I found to be very freeing for the atypical student, is Doug Lemov’s (@Doug_Lemov) Teach Like a Champion. If you have any opportunity to go to one of his workshops...go. Seriously, tell your district that you will turn-key the training. Ask for a grant from one of your school foundations, but go. It changed my thinking on teaching forever. As a child who struggled to express answers, take risks or speak up in class, I can tell you that these skills would have leveled the playing field. Now I get the honor of training teachers in these techniques. I have witnessed huge shifts in the classroom environment after training teachers in some of these techniques. Wait time and Cold Calling alone would have drastically changed my learning for the better.
I attended a two-day train the trainer workshop, and I was completely enthralled. The teaching skills that were covered would transform anyone’s classroom into a dynamic, fun, and rigorous learning environment.
I would suggest that any teacher would benefit from signing up for Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion blog updates.
Don’t follow, meander your own way in a conference.
I finally made it to an ISTE conference! For anyone that does not know, the ISTE conference is arguably the biggest Educational Technology conference in the U.S. The timing for the ISTE conference was always inconvenient for me, scheduled during vacations or other work commitments.
The funny thing is the big ticket speakers and Keynotes didn’t draw me in at all. After a couple of ok sessions I found myself meandering the rest of time between the EdTechTeam and Google for Education booths in the vendor area.
Both of these locations featured teachers and former teachers and how they are using Google Apps and other instructional technology tools in education. I really need to hear how teachers are currently using GAFE in classes, it's like water in a desert.
I learned more in some of these 20 minute sessions than in the 50 minute sessions I attended. I don’t why, but I must say the shorten sessions, being closer, all of it helped me. It could be my attention span issues or simply that I am GAFE centric, but these sessions rocked.
Two of my favorite sessions are “Redefining Math” with Sandra Chow (@watnunu) and “Explore your World with Google Geo Tools” presented by Brad Lands (@MrLands). Both of these presenters (currently teaching) are powerhouses and really gave me a ton of ideas I can’t wait to test out.
Sandra Chow is the math teacher I always wish I had, she is innovative (and a Google Innovator) and used google slides in a way I never thought of for collaborative math work. Bradley Lands broke more down about Google Geo Tools in a quick 20 minute session than I ever thought possible. I would suggest following both on Twitter, or just following them wherever they are. There is much to learn from both of them.
I will post more on what I learned at ISTE and of course on my adventures in professional development as the summer rolls on.
And probably one of the biggest highlights of the ISTE conference is my discovery of the sushi-ritto (a sushi buritto) at Hai’s Kitchen in Philly. Actually not my discovery, Jesse Lubinsky was the official food tour director of our small group. (As per usual, Jesse, Sabrina and I traveling in our own little Ed Tech wolf-pack.) And quite a tour it was!
I am a technology leader, professional developer, teacher, parent and proud owner of an IEP. Let's talk about some fabulous learning experiences.