Last week I had the pleasure of attending MassCUE technology conference providing educators from across the Commonwealth and New England with exciting ways to enhance teaching and learning with technology. Starting from the conviction that technology is a great tool, but not a learning outcome; and, having in mind student-centered learning, I was hoping to expand on my knowledge of best practices and new trends, as well as new tools in order to prepare students to take charge of their learning and be successful in the process. Through multiple engaging sessions and workshops I was reminded of the importance of empowering teachers to take risks, the importance of providing them with ample professional development opportunities and to give them the access and tools, giving them the choice to “use technology.” It was all about pedagogy and not about the tool. It was all about changing the landscape to empower students to use the tools that they wanted and create the artifacts that bring meaning to their learning. 

In all the sessions I went to, I came out thinking about what we are already doing at Park and what do I take out of this workshop that can be a useful implementation at our school. There were many things we were already doing well, some even ahead of our peer schools, but of the new tools I discovered I would love to highlight three of them:

A.- Flipgrid 

This was not a new app for me and neither is it for many of the teachers at Park. Yet, it might be new to some others, and given the potential of its use in the classroom, I wanted to highlight it as one of my top three. It is a video response platform where educators can have online video discussions with students or other educators. Teachers can provide feedback to students AND better yet students can provide feedback to one another. The best part? Flipgrid is now completely free!. Here are some ideas for its use:

  1. Create a grid and topic and share it
  2. Students log in and record their video (Flipgrid can be used on ANY device)
  3. You and your students reply to one another and take the discussions further!
  4. Reading response goes digital. After your class reads an article, chapter or book have them respond to a question about their reading. Take the conversation further by having students comment on each other’s responses.2. End of year (semester) reflection. 3. Advice to next year’s class.  

    4. Debate about a topic! 

    5. Reflect on a lesson or unit. 

    6. Exit tickets get a makeover. Post the question “What did you learn today?” or better yet ask your students “What did you create today?” for the students to answer before leaving class.

    7. Number talks. Have students explain their thinking and critique the reasoning of others as they work through a math problem. Looking for more ideas for using Flipgrid in math? Be sure to check out Sean Fahey’s fantastic post 13 ways to enhance math lessons with Flipgrid.

    8. Brainstorming in the Engineering Design Process. Students can jump very quickly to planning or even building before they get out their ideas in a brainstorming session. Slow them down a bit and capture their thinking as they throw out their ideas on Flipgrid. Add a Flipgrid to the brainstorm portion of this Intro to Engineering Design Process HyperDoc.

    9. Put a spin on the student of the week. Have each student record a video sharing why that student of the week is special. Students will enjoy watching video messages from their classmates sharing why they are a valued member of their classroom community.

    10. Reboot your standard biography report.  The example given was to use Nadine Gilkison’s amazing Biography Inquiry HyperDoc to teach students all about biographies. Finally, have students dress up as the person they are researching and record a short presentation video.

     11. Appreciation/Thank you card. After a field trip, or during appreciation week have your class record their own video thank you cards.

    12. 30-second book talk challenge. Have your students share about their favorite book in 30 seconds or less.                                                             

    13. As an assessment tool

B.- PEAR Deck
Pear Deck was founded by educators on a mission to help teachers engage every student, every day. With solutions rooted in active learning and formative assessment, Pear makes it easy for teachers to connect with learners of every age and ability. When that happens, more students participate and learn, and classroom community improves. Pear Deck is built to work with Google slides. Even better, Pear Deck is 100% web based and device agnostic—no downloads or updates required. Teachers and students log into Pear Deck with their Gmail address, files are auto-saved in Drive, and everything is integrated with Google Classroom. In short, Pear Deck is a perfect match for schools using G Suite. So what are the uses of PEAR DECK in the classroom? Here are some ideas:

C.- Hyperdocs:  

A Hyperdoc is “a transformative, interactive Google Doc replacing the worksheet method of delivering instruction and is the ultimate change agent in the blended learning classroom. With strong educational philosophies built into each one, HyperDocs have the potential to shift the way you instruct with technology.” Here is a great classroom example about Hopes and Dreams created by Rachel Marker and Karly Moura.

Some notes about Hyperdocs: 

  • It is NOT just a Google Doc with links. Learners will actually interact with content and reflect on their learning within the Doc. I think this is where I missed the mark previously. Looking at some examples given in this session helped me realize this.
  • A Hyperdoc doesn’t just have to be a Google Doc. In fact, building a Hyperdoc in Google Slides offers some benefits over using a Doc, such as the ability to embed YouTube or Google Drive videos.
  • A Hyperdoc is a lesson within itself, and it will most likely take more than one class period for students to work through it.
  • Hyperdocs are engaging, learner-centered, and most importantly, far from sit and get!

Some things to think when building a Hyperdoc:

  • How will learners Explore the information?
  • How will learners Explain their learning?
  • How will learners Apply that learning? Not a worksheet! Check out my Backward EdTech Flow Chart for some ideas.
  • How will learners Share it?
  • How will learners Reflect afterward?
  • How will learners Extend the learning if they have extra time?
Well, this was just a snippet of all I learned in the conference. Let me know if you want to learn more!
-Mercè Garcia