Friday, August 8, 2014

Technology in the Classroom

Yesterday, I was able to attend the Davis Technology Conference offered by our district. It was a full day (four workshops) of learning new ways to use technology in the classroom. Just like with any other workshop, there were good presentations and there were "not-so-great/useful" presentations. The two I LOVED and will use in my classroom were "Using Canvas Effectively in the Classroom" and "How to Use Twitter for Your Personal Professional Development." These classes were taught by two AMAZING teachers I have the privilege of working with every day: Jared Fawson teaches Geography and Jim Hansen teaches Earth Systems and Biology in the same "house" I teach in at West Point Junior High.

Jared, Jim, and I along with a couple of other teachers at our school used Canvas last year and had great success with it! Jared uses it for a variety of assignments and quizzes for his curriculum. Jim uses it for his term projects and is able to post all the steps/assignments that lead up to the final term or Science Fair project. It allows the over achievers to see what's required and they can submit them for grading well before the due date if they choose. Because they are posted early in the term, parents are able to know what's coming up and try to help their kids get a head start and not wait until the last minute to rush through the work. (Sometimes that works...oftentimes it doesn't...but at least he tries!) I have used it for a few quizzes, CLOSE Reading assignments, and for my term reading assignments. The beauty of the program is...
As an English teacher, I was THRILLED with that concept!!! I have them write their essays in Google Docs, share it with me ("Anyone with the link can EDIT"), have the rubric right there in Canvas, and I can click my way through grading, add comments in Canvas or right on their Google Doc, and whip through them in a fraction of the time I used to spend doing it by hand. Then, when we're finished grading, the kids (and parents) can log back into Canvas and see how things went and what they can do to improve their work in the future. It's been AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I'll never have essays submitted any other way again! I also plan to use it in new ways this year... (Click the graphic above for more information about the program.)

Jared has used Twitter to connect with other educators all over the world (literally ALL. OVER. THE. WORLD!!) and has been able to develop some really great relationships and teaching opportunities through it. Now...his main disclaimer was that he DOES NOT use it to tweet what he ate for breakfast, what he's wearing, or any other stupid things that end up being tweeted. I signed up for an account and am going to try it this year. Thankfully, I have Jared across the hall from me to help with any questions or give me more ideas on how to get more out of using it. (Thankfully, he created a website to help us remember his class. You can find more information HERE.

We were told there would be handouts on the Davis Technology Conference website. I've linked it HERE (hoping there will be more than the one that's linked right now). I have to say that, unlike most conferences I attend during my precious summer, this one was really helpful!

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