Tuesday, bright and early with coffee in hand, I head to my first workshop presented by Tanna Kincaid, Technology Director for Bismarck Public Schools, ND. Kincaid’s presentation titled, “1:1 Implementation: World Class Education for the Modern Student” specifically focused on reaching the 4 C’s (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) in her description. With the idea of the 4 C’s swirling around the conference on day one of TIES I was excited to see how Bismarck addresses this specifically.
Bismarck is a growing district and approached technology integration with a vision of what they wanted a Bismarck graduate to be which was a young-adult “digitally fluid, skilled in the 4 C’s, and socially conscious” (as a service-learning practitioner I particularly love the last one). To support this effort, they have one computer for every three students in the elementary grades (3-5) and varying 1:1 pilots from grades 6-12. Kincaid acknowledged that they are seeing a shift in teaching and learning in the 1:1 classrooms that supports the 4 C’s and this shift has implicated the infrastructure, budget, professional development, and course offerings.
Bismarck is using Project Based Learning, led by the Buck Institute to focus on pedagogy and not the devices alone. The district is keeping a pulse on student and teacher perspectives through “open mic” nights and surveys. Teachers also participate in self-reflection and additional professional development to support 1:1 devices.
On to the keynote! Jane McGonigal is a favorite of mine, I originally heard her speak as the ASTD conference in 2012, I have read her book, watched her Ted Talk (below), and I did a project about her in my master’s. She gave a wonderful talk, the first part I had heard before but she showcased a project I had not seen.
In the project she showcased a game she designed for the New York Public Library. She talked about the role of gaming, who is gaming, how much they are gaming, the potential of gaming and as I said before most of it I have heard. Based on the responses on Twitter though, it seemed like for most TIES attendees hadn’t. To me it was a realization that changes, trends, and technology, as fast as it seems to move can still be very slow (especially in education where money can be tight).
The next session I dabbled in a few, I believe in the power of two feet. If a workshop isn’t the right fit for you, get up and walk out. It is your conference experience! Unfortunately, some of the conference venues are so large that if you strike out twice within one conference session you may spend more time walking around vs. learning. The next session I skipped to meet with some district partners because at the core of this experience is connecting with others from around the state that you don’t get to see as often as you would like. It is about relationships. I had delicious pork tamales at Masa in Minneapolis if you were wondering.
Belly very full, I headed to Melanie Olson’s session titled, “Coding in Elementary: Create the Programmers of Tomorrow”. I have always wanted to learn more about coding and how coding will be the next language taught in schools. There are tons of resources out there to use, Olson focused on code.org. She had so much to share, tons of enthusiasm, and lots of experience using the resources from code.org in her classroom. I think I could have attended a full day with her. Did you know that code.org has activities you can do with students online and offline? Did you know that code.org has affiliates that will come out and train you on how to use code.org? Neither did I.
This might have been my favorite TIES conference yet! I made lots of connections and I have a lot of following up to do. The goal of attending these conferences is that opportunities don’t go untapped, if they are willing to present on their school they are likely willing to meet with you 1:1. Interested in connecting with this community weekly? Participate in the #mnlead Twitter chat!