Tuesday at ISTE 2017: Looking beyond 'single stories,' rethinking class design
Not in San Antonio? Not a problem. We've got you covered with more of the latest from the K-12 IT mega-gathering
Editor's note: For more of our coverage on ITSE, check out our full ITSE recap.
San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center was still abuzz Tuesday as the 2017 ISTE conference rolled on strong with an inspirational keynote from Des Plaines Public Schools (IL) Chief Innovation Officer and "Courageous Edventures" author Jennie Magiera.
But before Magiera addressed the crowd, ISTE Board President Dr. Mila Thomas Fuller took a moment to acknowledge the 2017 ISTE Award winners — who can be found here — and to introduce a short presentation from Plano Independent School District Technology Specialist, Clara Alaniz. Alaniz began her presentation discussing her parents' garden and the challenges it faces from rabbits, weather, etc. before ultimately tying the anecdote to the importance of empowering educators to be advocates who give learners the tools to blossom wherever they are.
Next, ISTE CEO Richard Culatta took the stage to moderate a light-hearted discussion with three eighth grade students and a college freshman from Michigan, Texas and Illinois, focusing on their favorite learning experiences (which largely included hands-on activities and collaborative work), as well as their interests. When asked to name one thing they think needs to stop in education, the students responded with homework, long lectures, desks and bullying.
Finally, Culatta introduced Magiera. She began her keynote with a story about a girl who grew up in Seoul, Korea. When her parents and brother moved to the U.S., she and her sister stayed behind in Korea with her grandmother until they were eventually called to move to New York City to join their family. The girl's mother took her to city hall to get an American name, choosing “Carol” for her. But the city hall clerk spelled it as “Kello” because of her mom’s Korean enunciation. This led her to become "the girl with the mistake name" among her peers, who joked about it a lot. In fourth grade, however, her teacher asked what she’d like to be called, and she replied with “Katie” and used that name from then on.
The girl in the story is revealed to be Magiera's mom, and it was key to her overall theme of "single stories" and how we often rely on singular understandings of people based on a specific set of characteristics. The goal, she said, is to focus on addressing the untold story rather than the one that can be seen on the surface.
Sharing our untold stories with teachers with Jennie Magiera, Keynote at ISTE pic.twitter.com/SnVLvIhfUE— NW Iowa STEM Region (@NWIowaSTEM) June 27, 2017
Educators discuss challenges of reconfiguring learning spaces
A Tuesday morning session with the University of Arizona's Dr. Chris Johnson, Peeples Elementary gifted teacher and Fayette County (GA) Board of Education member Dr. April DeGennaro, Glen Ullin Public School (ND) third-grade teacher Sarah Fox, and Pickerington Local School District (OH) Director of Instructional Technology Brian Seymour explored strategies, challenges and benefits of rethinking classroom design.
DeGennaro stressed the importance of getting stakeholder buy-in, citing Fayette County Superintendent Joseph Barrow's acknowledgement that changing the class space also requires changes in approaches to teaching. You have to be intentional and also work within funding, and administrators must have conversations with teachers about what they think that learning space needs, and what administrators can do for them. She also noted that educators need to keep custodians and others in mind in regard to how the changes impact them.
Fox noted how, if there’s not a ton of money to go around, educators must become “pirate teachers” via simple, cost-effective changes. These can include raising or lowering existing tables or bringing items from home, such as pillows, yoga mats or exercise balls. Additionally, she noted the benefits of changing the lighting with lamps and natural light, as well as (if possible) potentially repainting a classroom or changing the temperature to an optimal range. Additionally, she touted the benefits of seeking funding on DonorsChoose.org, GoFundMe, or Classwish — after seeking administrator approval.
She suggested that educators start small, have fire marshall approval, de-clutter their spaces, be flexible, have clear student expectations, and consider students’ learning, asking them what they want. "They have tons of great ideas, and kids are pretty creative," Fox said, adding that educators must also provide more than just one seating choice.
Seymour's district involved students in the process with a Shark Tank activity, requiring groups to find 3D software and map out classrooms and figure out where they could put things before pitching the ideas. “Almost every group got rid of the teacher desk,” he said.
The district is now working with the finalist groups in the competition to implement their ideas.
CTOs go to "boot camp"
Around the lunch hour, Jeremy Shorr of the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM moderated a panel of CTOs through a discussion of managing a deployment, tracking inventory, maintaining devices, and coping with the position's changing expectations. Keep an eye out over the coming days for our key takeaways from the conversation, which featured the U.S. Department of Education's Susan Bearden, Anchorage School District's Andrew Chlup, Owensboro Public Schools' Matthew Constant, and Pickerington Local School District's Brian Seymour.
Automotive training comes to zSpace
- Mixed reality educational platform zSpace is expanding its career and technical education (CTE) offerings with new automotive training courses from Chinese education solutions provider Shenzhen GTA Education Tech Ltd.
- The GTA Virtual Automotive Training platform allows students to study and explore complex automotive systems in a virtual environment, dissembling and reassembling systems including the engine, clutch, transmission, powertrain and more.
- A large part of the application's value proposition is that it allows students to repeat learning experiences in an environment free of potential risks and material consumption that also doesn't require the significant amount of space needed for physical vehicles.
West Corporation streamlines school communications with SchoolMessenger app
- Among the tech solutions on display at ISTE was West Corporation's recently launched SchoolMessenger app, which works with iOS and Android, as well as a browser-based application.
- The free app enables two-way conversation between educators, parents and students, gathering communications in a scrollable "stream" while also allowing the pushing of notifications from the school and district level.
- The app also allows the exchange of images, videos and files, such as permission slips, between parents and teachers, in addition to featuring modules like SafeArrival, which notifies parents if their student hasn't arrived at school and allows them to submit an explanation for the absence.
New e-book from Singlewire covers year-round safety planning
- Also in school communications news, Singlewire Software unveiled its new e-book, "Enhancing Safety and Communication in K12 Schools: A 12-Month Guide."
- The guide offers best practices in planning for severe weather, shooters, and other emergency events, additionally suggesting what administrators should keep in mind when choosing mass notification solutions for use during such events.
- The e-book also goes over how to boost communication, ensuring clear crisis communication, the importance of mobile, and making sure schools have plans in place for threats near their campuses.
Belkin expands 1:1 accessory offerings with new mobile charging, storage solutions
- Belkin Education has unveiled two new storage and charging solutions for 1:1 classrooms with the Store and Charge Go and Rockstar 10-Port USB Charging Station.
- Touted as "compact and convenient," Store and Charge Go can fit as many as 10 Chromebooks, laptops, tablets or other devices, with an additional base compartment for charging cables and portable trays for quick device deployment.
- Meanwhile, the Rockstar is outfitted with a 10-outlet power hub that features 2.4 Amps from each port, surge protection and independent charging.
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