Monday, August 2, 2010

The Reform Symposium

I'm a bit behind the rest of the edu world, but I'm glad I was able to watch at least a couple of the presentations from The Reform Symposium.  I enjoyed the two that I saw and they've both given me ideas for my classroom.

First, I watched George Couros' (@gcouros) presentation on "Identity Day", which sounds like a super cool event and a wonderful way to get to know students better.  I love his passion on developing relationships with the entire school community and hope to grow in that aspect in my own teaching.  I'd like to try having an "Identity Day" in my classroom too.  If it is a success then I hope I can help expand it to the whole school, just as George as done.  Even though his school holds this event near the end of the year, I wonder if it is something I can do in the beginning of the year, at least on the smaller scale of just my class.  I'm very concerned about student relationships (with me, but more so with one another) and am looking for ways to help them build a sense of community where they will want to be kind towards one another.  My school is big on responsive classroom, and this seems like a great way to accomplish that.  So right now I'm toying with the idea of making this one of the first assignments for the kids to do (with their parents), and then I can invite the parents, administrators, and other classrooms in at the beginning of the year to learn about my students (as well as them learning about each other).  I need to outline it a bit more, but I think this could be a really great experience.  Thanks George!

Second, I watched Silvia Tolisano's (@langwitches) presentation on "Skype Around the World", where she talked about why and how she uses Skype in her classroom.  I clap my hands for her because her students are doing some pretty amazing things!!!  At the end of last year I pretty much told everyone that I wanted to use Skype in my classroom this year.  I didn't really know how I wanted to use it, except to connect my students with other students across the globe.  At this moment, I still haven't hashed out a specific project or how I'm going to accomplish that and tie it to our learning goals, but the collaborative chat going on in Silvia's presentation did give me a couple other ideas that are swirling around my mind now too.  One is to have virtual career days.  I've been thinking about doing career days with parents and community members, but with Skype the sky is the limit!  As many of the teachers said during the presentation, I might be able to connect with real experts, in our local community and beyond, and they can share their careers with the kids (hopefully in their actual office!)  Someone else in the chat mentioned giving interviews too, which I think would also be fun and a great experience for the kids.  Another person mentioned meeting the author of a book the class is reading (sorry I can't remember the specific names these ideas came from).  I'm getting excited just thinking about what we can do with Skype this year!  I need to start planning (and keep my fingers crossed that our Internet connection is functioning properly now).  Thanks Silvia!

Even though I only saw a couple of presentations, I am glad that I was able to catch what I did.  I love how social media has taken teacher collaboration to a new level!  I'm hoping that this year I can be better about connecting with the teachers in my PLN and bring all of these wonderful things to my school and all of our students too!

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