Leading a Digital School Conference 2015

This week I will be presenting 2 sessions at the 2015 Leading a Digital School Conference. Abstracts and session resources can be found below.

 

Google Apps for Education and BYOT

Abstract: Google is much more than a search tool – it is an extraordinary tool for education. Cloud-based technologies are now enabling “anytime and anywhere” access which has the ability to redefine learning and teaching for our staff and students. The vast suite of Google Apps and tools offer distinct advantages and powerful collaboration for its users. This session will: – Unpack the advantages and disadvantages of Google Apps For Education. – Provide resources and advice for deploying Google Apps in an educational setting. – Provide examples of Google tools in action in a primary setting. This session is intended for educators with basic knowledge of Google Apps or starting to experiment with some of Google’s offerings. It is also suitable for anyone considering whether Google Apps for Education is suitable for their school context, and if it might complement a BYOT program.

 

 

Ignited Learning through Genius Hour

Abstract: Genius Hour, inspired by Google’s 80/20 time, is a timely change from the industrial model of schooling. Time is set aside each week for students to take ultimate control of their learning. Teachers will no longer dictate the entire curriculum of the teaching and learning that is taking place in their classrooms. Students will have choice and voice in their learning as they pursue their interests and passions. It is Passion Based Inquiry Learning at its finest, and is engaging and motivating students around the globe to unprecedented levels. More information can be viewed at www.geniushour.com. This session will: – Explore the disruption of a traditional pedagogical approach that goes beyond the idea of flipping delivery of content, but flipping how, what and when students learn. – Discuss successes and surprises from a recent school implementation of Genius Hour. – Provide resources and advice for implementing a Genius Hour / 20 Time program in your school context.

 

2015 Edu On Air: Ignited learning through Genius Hour

Last week I had the privilege of presenting on Google Edu On Air, a 2 day global PD event that took place online. Many keynotes and over 100 sessions took place this year, all of which can be watched on demand from the 2015 Google Edu On Air website.

My session, titled ‘Ignited learning through Genius Hour’, was an overview of our school’s experiences five iterations of Genius Hour in Year 5 and 6 and the lessons learnt since it’s inception.

A recording of the session can be viewed below, as well as on the Google Edu On Air website.

 

 

On demand Edu On Air page

Presentation slides

Session materials

Google+ event

 

What’s your impact?

One of the 10 principles of our approach to Genius Hour which we maintain to be of high importance  is to encourage students to have an impact beyond themselves. We want our students to think about how they could potentially change the world, whether that is on a local, national, or global stage. We are bringing the expectation that they could contribute something meaningful as a global citizen.

10 principles of genius hour

Our 10 principles of Genius Hour

What we found in our first iterations of Genius Hour last year was that this notion was hardly realised. Students unsurprisingly grappled with the foreign concept of undertaking a lengthy process of discovery on a deep level, let alone considering what they were going to do with their new found knowledge in the inquiry. This improved in 2014 as we applied a Design Thinking process to Genius Hour to focus on the development on a deep, complex and “Non-Googleable” question. The introduction of “How might we…” led naturally to tangible actions that could potentially lead to opportunities for sharing beyond a student’s own benefit.

During the proposal stages students considered what the impact beyond themselves would be. However when it came time to undertake the inquiry, students became caught up and often forgot about it and therefore was often too little and too late in the process  for their impact to be realised. Having said this, in our most recent Genius Hour attempt the majority of our students were able to at least make, teach or do something genuine for their school and wider community. Holding an Open Expo for the school community, and sharing projects via the level blog and on Google Hangouts certainly helped in this regard.

We asked our students to map out a self-assessment of their impact using a graphic organiser with the levels of SELF, SCHOOL COMMUNITY, WIDER COMMUNITY, STATE, NATION and WORLD by providing evidence of what they either made, did or taught. Upon completing this task, students reluctantly realised that their intended impact may not have been entirely realised.

IMG_5180IMG_20141119_173107

In our next attempt of Genius Hour, we feel that it would be appropriate to use this graphic organiser during the ideation stage and development of the inquiry line. Our challenge as educators is to assist students during the inquiry process to connect them to opportunities that allow them to make their desired impacts, particularly those outside of the school community.

Below is a copy of the graphic should you wish to use it (or in PDF). I would be interested in hearing about how other educators are encouraging their students to think beyond their community and actually making their efforts a reality!

What's Your Impact

 

ISTE 2014 resources

Next week I will be travelling to the USA for this year’s ISTE conference in Atlanta. Last year was my first taste of this conference when I attended with the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) Study Tour group. During that time, I was inspired to return to ISTE no longer as a first timer but also as a formal presenter.

I’m happy to say that both of those are true for 2014, and I am particularly looking forward to sharing and connecting with others in an inspirational space once again. I will be speaking on 3 occasions at ISTE 2014, both formally and informally.

 

Unleashing the potential of Google Forms

One of my absolute favourite ways of using Google Forms is to use it for powerful assessments. I have presented this on the GAFE circuit a few times now. Whilst not new, it will be the first time that I present this abroad. There might be a few spots left for anyone interested! (Session: Monday June 30th at 10:30am)

 

Resources: http://bit.ly/1smY19y

Slides here or below:

 

ACCE Featured Speakers Session

The 2013 ACCE tour group brings back many memories, but also a reminder of how much time has taken place since then. Karen Swift, tour leader has invited me to speak to this year’s group at the Featured Speaker Session. The talk is aptly titled STACCE13: 12 months after the fact, and is a narrative of the inspiration that was taken from the 2013 tour, the principles of “Ready, Fire, Aim”, and levering PLN’s to have direct impact on student outcomes and experiences during our tinkering with Genius Hour (a well known pet of mine!).

Slides here or below:

 

HAPARA booth

And finally, Hapara will be scheduling several speakers who are currently using their awesome tool in their schools with Google Apps for Education. I believe it is a excellent add-on to empower teachers to utilise Google Apps to its full potential. One of the ways that our school has been using Google Apps is with student e-portfolios, and Hapara has played a pivotal role in this process. I will be talking about some of our experiences of this at the Hapara booth in the exhibition hall on Tuesday 1st July at 10:30am.

Slides here or below:

Google Apps For Education – What is it (good for)?

Today I have been asked to speak at the CEOM Eastern ICT Network Meeting and discuss some of the ways that our school has been using Google Apps For Education. This presentation draws on some previous work around Google Forms for assessment, Google Sites for e-portfolios, and Genius Hour.

Today’s presentation is titled “GAFE – What is it (good for)?” and showcases some of our recent highlights and successes of using Google Apps For Education in transformative ways. The slides can be accessed here or below:

TeachMeet Melb – #GeniusHour at St. Mark’s PS

Today I  will be presenting at TeachMeet Melbourne on our school’s recent #GeniusHour projects. In 2013, I also presented at a TeachMeet describing how we were just getting started with #Geniushour with our students. Today’s presentation is about what we have since learnt from the second half of 2013.

The presentation can be found here or below:

What I learnt from our first Genius Hour implementation

As posted previously, this term we introduced Genius Hour with our students. Since that post a few months back,  students got started on their projects with much enthusiasm. Google Docs and Google Presentation were popular tools of choice for collecting and synthesizing information, particularly those students who were working in pairs or small groups. I was surprised at how easily students managed to share created files with one another in their Google Drive to allow real time collaboration and access to occur within the group, even though we haven’t spent a great deal of time going through the share functions within Google Apps.

 

It was extremely positive to see a high level of engagement and motivation during the term as students were working on their projects. I remember on one particular day during the term I had a PD to attend outside of school. In the afternoon I returned to find the whole Year 5/6 working on their Genius Hour projects. When I walked into our building, I found students in different spaces, not necessarily in their home class or with their home teacher, using various pieces of technology, from their laptops, to their mobile devices which they had brought in to assist them with their projects, to school video cameras to record and produce content. Not one single student was off task or disruptive (which is rare for an afternoon late in the week!), and is a testament to the deeply personal and motivating aspect of Genius Hour.

 

Despite this, it was not all fair sailing in terms of students persevering and directing their own process, and applying critical and creative skills to their projects. This was expected, particularly as observed in the introduction of Genius Hour, that not all students coped well with 100% pure choice and voice of their learning. Below is a slide from my Teachmeet presentation about our Genius Hour introduction which demonstrates what happened when Genius Hour was first introduced:

Nevertheless, these students were supported accordingly. By the end term, every student had completed a project and presented it to the year level (bar a few who left early on holidays).

 

In the final weeks of term an Open Expo Day for the projects was organised. Students completed a google form with their group members and included the question they were researching, and an appropriate theme / subject matter for their project. We were then able to organise the 5/6 building accordingly into sections according to areas, much like a museum. The areas that were finalised included:

  • Health
  • Society
  • Sport
  • Computer Science
  • Environment
  • The Arts
  • Science & Technology
All students and teachers from year prep to 4, as well as parents of the school community were invited in to have a look at the projects. The expo went for an hour, and some visiting students complained that they did not have enough time to see everything! The atmposphere in the building was electric, as 130 eager 5/6 students welcomed, explained, educated and shared with their visitors what they had been working on during Genius Hour. The feedback from visiting students, teachers and parents was overwhelmingly positive.

One of the tasks that the students had to do before the end of the term was submit the projects so it could be displayed on the class blog. Another school also getting started with Genius Hour could then give our students feedback on their projects, and we could reciprocate in return. We used Form Plus to create a submission page where students uploaded their projects directly to a teacher’s drive account. We encouraged students to save their work as a PDF when possible to maximise compatibility for global viewers. Publishing content to the web was also a great opportunity to consolidate what students had learnt earlier in the year (around privacy, copyright, and citation of information) when they first received their laptop. The final projects can be seen from this blog post.

 

Annecdotally, the students have enjoyed Genius Hour immensely this term. We have asked them to complete a more formal evaluation of the Genius Hour program which I am yet to sit down properly and sift through. However, there is no doubt that Genius Hour engages and motivates students, promotes creativity, collaboration and true inquiry, and allows for powerful learning to occur from the access of their laptops.

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Moving forward from here…

Second time around – Next term we plan to allow our students to work on another Genius Hour project. I am sure this time it will be even better than last time as both teachers and students improve the process and are inspired from each other to put their mind to great things.

 

Providing templates – I would consider providing a presentation template to students covering all requested elements of their project. Despite this being communicated to them at the start of the term, students often omitted some of this information in the class presentations.

 

Privacy, copyright, citations, etc. – Needs to be taught again, as students have learned about this but need to apply it properly in context. Publishing Genius Hour projects is a good platform for this! A large percentage of students had to resubmit their final presentations after they were uploaded because they included personal information, had plagiarized information and/or images, or did not have correct referencing.

 

Marking / scoring – Although I am reluctant to provide a formal score or mark for work which is highly personal and creative, it may be worth considering something for the student presentation to the class. Even some guidelines or a quality criteria would suffice. This was something that was neglected and would lift the quality of the presentations.