Friday Focus

A Week of Awesomeness at EHS 10.15.15


Ok, Ok, I know - it's actually a "Thursday Focus" but it just doesn't quite have the same ring as "Friday Focus."

This week has just flown by. We had a deadline to meet this week as administrators, so I apologize that I may have been hiding out in the office a little too much. Anyway, with Tech Tuesday this week, and then a conference on Wednesday at Greenbush, my goal of getting into classrooms this week just didn't pan out, and I apologize for that. No one's fault but mine. With that being said, this week's Friday Focus is going to look a little (a lot) different than it normally does.

Since I did not make it to classrooms this week, I still want to focus on some great things that teachers are doing, so I got to thinking... what amazing things did I see this week? Although there were several, I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you about some really great conversations that came out of Tech Tuesday this week. Before you shut me out because you just saw the phrase "Tech Tuesday," please give this a chance! I know things are crazy busy, and it's hard to give up some plan time, and Tech Tuesday can seem like more of an inconvenience than an opportunity. With that being said, I wanted to share some awesome moments with the some people who came and learned about Google Hangouts. After reading a few of these, I hope it becomes increasingly clear that these days aren't solely about the use of technology - it's about pedagogy, and how technology can help enhance how we teach. Each person had unique ways they planned to incorporate Hangouts into their classroom, which goes to show that technology still allows us to be individuals and have autonomy - it just presents us with a new tool to do so.

Nate Robinson

Here's the awesome thing about Nate: I'm never going to teach him something about technology that he doesn't already know, or isn't about to learn on his own sometime in the near future. In fact, I go to him (like a lot of us do) with technology questions. Yet Nate shows up week after week for Tech Tuesday. Why? He's interested in the pedagogy behind it. He gains ideas of how he could use the technology in his class. This week, he left with at several ideas of how he could realistically using Google Hangouts in his class.

First, he was considering connecting with his brother in law via Hangouts. His brother in law builds apps, and could be an awesome real-world connection for his web design kids to ask questions to and get an idea of what that job looks like on a day to day basis. What an awesome experience those kids could have!

Secondly, he had the idea of connecting with some former students who are excelling in college or their careers in video production. He could use Hangouts to play his class's projects to those people, and they could give an immediate critique based on what they're learning in college, or how they would critique it in the real world. Wow - that's powerful stuff!

Third, he had an idea (that was maybe over my head a little bit) of how to create some 360 field trips using another technology, and broadcasting it via Hangouts.

The conversations we had were not about technology - they were about enhancing the experience his students had in his classroom. Thanks, Nate for allowing these conversations to happen!

Cathie Klein

Cathie came in on Tuesday having used Hangouts before for personal uses, but not in the classroom. She watched the video tutorials and read through the lesson. She then told me how she could see herself using Hangouts during her unit on interviews, but since students don't have access to use Hangouts from their accounts, she would have to do some thinking on how she could best use it. We then brainstormed and came up with an idea that Cathie was excited about upon leaving. She wants to use it to connect with some professionals out in the "real world," and allow her students to ask questions about the interview process where they work, and then those professionals will conduct a mock interview to her class. There could be one student at a time in the "hot seat" answering a question from the professional, and then they could have a class discussion evaluating that student's answers. It was just a starting point for the lesson idea, but you could see the opportunities that Hangouts could present to Cathie, and how it could truly enhance something she was already planning to do.

Becky Goodwin

When Becky finished the lesson on Hangouts, she immediately thought of how she could use this to connect with other educators. There are several educators she stays in touch with and they collaborate via email, but this would allow them to conference to share ideas in an easy manner. Great thinking, Becky! I loved hearing about how you plan to use Hangouts for your own professional growth!

Scott Keltner

Scott has recently connected with the people who fly the DirecTV blimp about some math-related topics, as well as an image that Scott has previously used in class that the blimp had taken. He is looking into the possibility of connecting with these people via Google Hangouts to ask them math questions and allow his students to ask them questions as well. I'm not sure how much I had to do with any of this, but Scott hopes to use Hangouts to connect with someone who uses math every day in the real world, which I thought was pretty cool.

Kyle Deterding

Kyle was another one who has used Hangouts in the past for personal reasons, and he learned that you could stream Hangouts to YouTube, and students could access it later for reinforcement, or they could watch the lesson if they were absent for a day. It was a great idea for a potential use of Hangouts! Thanks for coming, Kyle!

Final Thoughts

I know we are all busy with our day to day lives; lesson plans, grades - you name it - we all gotta do it, and it's hard. Time oftentimes gets away from us, and things like Tech Tuesday can seem like an after thought or an "If I have time.." item. I hope you can see that the people who came in during their plan time... they did just that. They planned. They learned a new tool, and they started planning how to use it in the near future. Technology is a tool to use, not a way of life, and pedagogy always comes first. I love the conversations I have with people about during Tech Tuesdays. Rarely are they ever very technical. They mostly revolve around solid teaching practices, student engagement, higher order thinking skills, differentiation, communication, and all-around student support. Technology is a tool to allow those things to happen, and sometimes it is easier and more seamless than the non-technology options. Sometimes, it is not. Regardless, good teaching comes first. So I encourage you to come learn with me at a future Tech Tuesday. Even if you only have 5-10 minutes to spare - I'd love to see you and learn with you!

If you took the time to read through the newsletter this week - I thank you. Thanks for taking an opportunity to learn and grow.

Finally, I'd like to throw out another "Thanks!" for the Boss's Day card and gifts. This is a truly great place to be, and it's because of the people that are here. Thanks for allowing me to come have fun at work every day! I appreciate you very, very much.

Have a great, long weekend.