*Disclaimer: very wordy, but there is a point.
Wow. All I can say is wow. When Tanya (I got to meet Tanya!) from “rattle and mum” mentioned on twitter about this conference I knew that I had to be there. Now I can be quite persistent when it comes to furthering my growth in the classroom setting. I did a whole lot of email bugging and casually dropped in hints in general staffroom banter… ok there was no casual hint dropping I plainly stated hour after hour that I really was a perfect candidate for this conference. Well, persistence paid off and I am so glad I did all that nagging because it was 2 days of “AHA” moments.
I had one goal in mind with this conference, figure out what apps to use in Foundation Phase. I keep saying this to anyone who asks me how I find the iPads: There are not enough apps for the Grade 1- 3 age group for children who have had access to iPads for most of their lives and are probably more proficient then I am on them.
I was wrong.
My new favourite word, that I may have said (and explained) 347 times since the conference (my colleagues loath me), has to be “Evergreen” apps. These, my friends of the world wide web, are apps that are neither age or subject specific. They are content creators.
What? Whaaaaat?! iPads creating content?
Now if like me you were apart of the initial iPad movement, these amazing little worker bees were not marketed as “content creators”, that’s what laptops were for. So to hear these words was like sweet, sweet music to my ears.
But before I start with all the fun stuff let me lay down some of the stats:
Date: 16 & 17 February 2105
Attendance: +- 300 people
Brought to us by: Think ahead and the Core group
Speakers: Tom Daccord, Beth Holland and Sabba Quidwai of Edtechteacher in the USA
Food: 5/5 +- 2kg picked up
Air conditioning: Powerful
It’s kind of an amazing feeling when a bunch of people who are all passionate about education and innovation meet, chat and get excited. Tom, Beth and Sabba helped to fuel our fires and reignite those, like mine, that have lost their heat.
Now there is too much to share in one little blog post, but Sabba challenged us in our last session to smash some apps (not the kind of smashing that you and I usually associate with the frustration of computers) and include 2 things we will be implementing and our “AHA” moment. So this is what I took back and shouted to everyone with much excitement at 7:03 on Wednesday morning.
1) The 1 screen iPad
Don’t focus all your energy on perfecting every app, teaching every app and stressing over app. Pick the ones that are useful to you and your subject, not more than 1 screens worth (no swiping left or right) and leave a couple spaces for some to play around with. Then, use them. In every way. Stop naming those lessons “iPad lessons”. The iPad is the tool to assist and enrich, not the lesson.
2) Start with the creative
If at your school like ours, you focus on using Blooms (or Anderson’s revised) Taxonomy you will know the levels to higher order thinking. They challenged us to start with the highest level of thinking, “creativity”. Stop spoon feeding, let the class figure out which apps will assist them more, let them use multiple apps (apps smashing) so where one app fails another will fill the gap. Think flexibly. If you have a task, don’t allow yourself to be limited, there is an answer, that too in itself can be a part of the challenge for the students.
EVERGREEEN AAAAAPPPPPPS! (said in your most Oprah of voices)
Eureka! We now have no more excuses.
We usually after little talks at my school do a PNI (Positive, Negative, Interesting) so here are mine for the #iPadedsummitza 2015
P: The fact that the speakers are teachers. They’ve been through it all.
N: 2 days is too short. Also Joburg is not exotic. How about the 12 Apostles next time? Jokes.
I: We have talent in this country. What I witnessed was we the teachers are that talent.
And so I conclude my rather basic summary of a very extraordinary conference. All my lessons going forward will be including some of the tips and tricks we learnt along the way. Do yourself a favour and bug your departments to budget for this amazing conference next year. Bring as many of your staff as possible because experience is always better first hand.