A couple of weeks ago, I received a surprising, but very pleasant, direct message on Twitter that went something like this, “Going to be in Surrey in a couple of weeks… want to get together?” Umm… Yeah! Absolutely! The message was from Dean Shareski! Dean presented at our district’s Engaging the Digital Learner Dinner Series in the fall and has also been involved in the #ETMooc currently being offered by Alec Couros and crew.
Dean expressed interest in doing something in a classroom with kids and maybe doing something after school with educators around the district. So, that’s what we (meaning @teacherdiana1) started planning.
Grade 3 teacher, Diana Williams, was very excited and took the idea and ran with it – literally. She had already planned on creating a video to promote her student’s involvement in KIVA (a website where you can make micro-loans to people in Third World Countries who are trying to start businesses). What a better opportunity than to create the video with help from Dean Shareski! So, through pneumonia, Diana worked tirelessly (even though we did
order her to stay home recommend that she stay home and rest and this opportunity would present itself again another time) rewriting the lyrics to a song so her students could become KIVA Ninjas. She taught the song to her Grade 3 students, complete with props and actions. They were adorable!
Dean Shareski and Austin Dolan (from Discovery Education) came and we all had a great time! The students were engaged and enthusiastic. They learned about what a green screen was and why it is used. The interacted with Dean and Austin for the entire afternoon. It was great seeing how natural Dean is with the children. It was evident how much fun everyone had together. Austin has a great sense of humour too (sorry Diana, but it was pretty funny).
After further assisting Diana with the technical aspects of putting the video together – taking out the green screen and adding Discovery Education photos in the background, Dean was then ready for his after-school event – a Smackdown!
Now, when Dean discussed hosting a Smackdown at Bear Creek, I was a little curious. I had never been to a Smackdown before! In case you are curious as well, a Smackdown is a sharing event. You can share a website, an app, a program, an activity, or really anything that has been meaningful to you and/or your students. You can learn more about it on Cybraryman’s page here. It was really an awesome time to share among friends! We had approximately 20 dedicated and inspiring Surrey School District educators in attendance and 3 fantastic educators via Google Hangout. With great energy in the room, and Dean facilitating the Smackdown, the sharing began.
First up was Robyn Thiessen (@robynthiessen) who shared what her Grade 3 and Grade 4 students are doing with The Global Classroom Project. Dean also mentioned the Den Connects resource through Discovery Education which has numerous global collaboration opportunities available as well.
Heather Blacker (@heatherblacker) from Winnipeg was our first visitor via Google Hangout. She shared her great sense of humour and her knowledge of the free app HaikuDeck and how she used it with her class during their animal studies. We learned that HaikuDeck is great for allowing only the use of Copyright images through the app. What a great way to ensure Copyrights are being honoured! I really need to check out this app! Here is Heather’s Tech Blog! Take a look and you will find loads of different projects to try with your students.
Our own Gallit Zvi (@gallit_z) was up next sharing wonderful things she and colleague Hugh MacDonald (@hughtheteacher) are doing with Genius Hour with their students. Genius Hour allows students to explore their passions within the school day. You will never see kids more enthusiastic, motivated, and engaged as you do during their Genius Hour time. Jodi Pulvers (@JPulvers) and Iram Khan (@TeacherMrsKhan) both shared how their kindergarten students do Genius Hour projects with their Big Buddies. You can read about their experiences here and here respectively.
Brad Fountain (@bradfountain) was up next via Google Hangout. He shared with us the CoachesEye app and talked about the multiple purposes of the app. He also recommended people download the free app, AppShopper which tells you when apps are on sale.
One of our secondary Teacher Librarian’s, Lisa Domeier (@librarymall) shared a couple of books with us: Steal Like an Artist and The Virtual Self. Lisa also shared the new Engaging the Digital Learner: Going Deeper Podcast, which can now be found on iTunes U. The latest district dinner series session, with Chris Lehman, can be heard in this podcast series. Lisa went on to talk about the importance of having students have an authentic audience when they are completing assignments. That is one reason blogging is so great – you are writing for the world to see – not just your teacher.
Kathy Cassidy (@kathycassidy) from Moosejaw, was up next to talk to us about some of the things her Grade 1 and 2 students are up to. She shared with us that Skype now has group skype for educators (you need to apply online in advance). Kathy has just recently written a book, Connected From the Start (due out the end of March).
Local Educator, Marilyn Carr (@MSMEcarr), shared her love of the books, Drive by Daniel Pink and Reality is Broken by Jane McGonegall. Marilyn suggested taking a look at the TED Talk by Paul Anderson about classroom game design.
Dean talked to us a bit about the Discovery Education Network that all educators in our district are a part of already. He also talked how to become a DenStar and about the Den Summer Institute. It all sounds very interesting and exciting. (If you are an educator (including administrators) in Surrey and you are not sure how to access your Discovery Education account, please ask your administrator or you can email or direct message me on Twitter and I will try to help.)
Surrey Vice Principal, Iram Khan, talked about how blogging has connected her with her families more than she has ever felt in her years of teaching. She emphasized that it is important not to be discouraged by parents not commenting on the blog. Even though they are not commenting in writing, they are commenting in person and feeling much more connected with their child(ren)’s education. You can read Iram’s blog post about this topic here.
Dean Shareski then shared about ifttt.com (if this then that) recipes. If you want to have your recent blog post immediately posted on Twitter as soon as you press publish, create a recipe! There are countless recipes to be created. Take a look! You can use the ones already listed on the site, or create your own.
What a great day we had! The only problem was, our time together went by way too quickly! There were many wonderful educators present who didn’t have the opportunity to share their wonderful ideas and things they are doing in their classroom. Next time!
Of course, a day isn’t complete without a little bit of cake . . . We wanted to wish Dean a Happy Birthday and thank him for spending his time with us. What a great experience. We welcome Dean back at any time. 🙂
A big thank you goes out to the amazing Diana Williams (@teacherdiana1) for all her hard work organizing this event and to Iram Khan (@teachermrskhan) for helping as well.
Here is a collaborative Google Doc of Smackdown Notes created by Gallit Zvi.