PACT Tech Academy is funded and ran by the Connelly Foundation. They provide the opportunity for Catholic school teachers to network, learn, and share with other teachers throughout the greater Philadelphia area. I was fortunate to be selected to join hundreds of other teachers in this tech experience.
Day 1: Google Me this, Batman!
Google is king of the internet. That simple sentence sums up the existence of Google. Google for Education has an endless list of features, add-ons, extensions, and programs that can make life easier for students and teachers. By no means is technology a means to an end for education, but technology can make the art of education a little more stream lined while also building skills within our students for the 21st century (not to mention a great way to build student engagement or motivation).
We spent the day with Gene Carboni and Preston Tyrell going over Google Drive programs, Google Classroom, and various programs that work with those systems to make life, grading, writing, and organization slightly easier. Google Classroom was a program launched in the last year that is exclusive to Google for Education Schools. It was a great free resource for myself and my students to collaborate in a whole new way. The first day was a great review for me and also gave me some new tips and applications to try!
Day 2: A Digital Voice for the Classroom
Day 2 was probably the most rewarding for me. Blogging, social media, and connecting outside of my classroom were things I had limited experience in. Tina Schmidt and Bell Gallagher had countless resources and examples of how simple it can be to reach out and accomplish AMAZING things.
Tina and Bell both had classroom blogs, not for themselves but for their students. They had streamlined rules and expectations for the young authors and established a large audience for their work. It was intimidating. They created a new classroom blog and made each of us a student account, so we too could experience what their students did. Blogging can be simple! Blogging can be fun! Isn't that the fun in teaching? --to share with others and get new ideas that help inspire our own classroom.
What is the take away? Well first, I'm writing about the experience in my very own blog! While at the tech academy, I added a blog page to my already existing professional website. Weebly is a really easy to use website creator, and the best part is that is is free!
Also, this year I will be trying something new that Tina showed to me via Twitter. My classroom will be participating in the 2015 Global Read Aloud. One group of people, all around the world, are united by a book. It was started by Pernille Ripp and is such a neat opportunity! The #GRA2015 has a selection of picture books for author study, a young reader selection, and a young adult selection. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is the selection that I plan on incorporating into my classroom either as a class read or a teacher read aloud.
Tina and Bell definitely gave me some things to work on, I just want to know when they have the time to sleep with all the things they are accomplishing with such young tech users!
Day 3: App Smashing
What on earth is "App smashing"? I had no idea, it sounded intimidating and yet fun all at the same time. Turns out, app smashing was something I was already doing but thought it was just called "Being Resourceful".
Imagine that you are creating a project and need that image or video clip added to the project, but you first open it in another program to edit, add elements, or modify the file first ---- that is app smashing. "The process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project." We were able to use a few apps in conjunction to add different elements to our work.
After three full days of learning, creating, and collaborating it was time to share. We had a great guest speaker, shared work from the many different groups of teachers, and had some time to network or continue to create with the resources we had been given. The week certainly left me with a lot to think about and a big chunk of inspiration to try something new! Summer vacation spent with professional development and now a new book to be ready for the #GBA2015 in the fall!