#EdcampQ8 – it’s a thing

This has been an exciting year for progress at AIS. It seems like we’re starting to be more open-minded to trying to new things. It’s been fun!

First semester the ES did a series of 3 Edcamps during weekly staff meetings. Inspired by the feedback, our MS/HS professional development planning team decided to try out the Edcamp model during our half-day PD. Although I’m not part officially part of the team, I helped on the back end. Kudos to Christina, the rest of the team and the entire AIS staff for being risk-takers! To see more details from a different perspective, check out Christina’s post.

  1. The PD planning team solicited topics and introduced Edcamps:
    1. edcamp1

  2. People who proposed topics were asked if they wanted to facilitate (in the Gform). If they didn’t, the PD planning team asked other staff members to facilitate the proposed topic.
  3. Christina held an Edcamp facilitator ‘orientation’ where she shared information & answered questions.
  4. All staff were asked to sign-up for topics. The facilitators were kept ‘secret.’ This isn’t the pure Edcamp model but the planning team wanted accountability and to keep the numbers low in the sessions. When a topic reached 10-12 participants, it was closed.
  5. Christina assigned topics/facilitators to rooms in the HS for each 45-minute session on a master schedule.
  6. Facilitators were asked to capture the conversation in some way (with a suggestion).
  7. I made a copy of the suggested spreadsheet and then shared it so that anyone with the link could edit. I took notes during our discussion and then emailed it to the participants so that they could add anything they wanted. I also added a link to the master schedule so that other staff members could keep the conversation going.
  8. After our mini-Edcamp, Christina sent out a feedback survey to get an idea of the overall reactions to Edcamp and also to the individual sessions.
  9. Lastly, Christina sent out an email with suggestions to encourage staff to “continue and extend the conversations and learning from Edcamp sessions.”
    1. You know who’s in charge of your development? YOU.edcamp2

We’d love to hear about other grass-roots Edcamp movements! We’re hoping this can become something bigger and we can host an Edcamp for all of Kuwait in April.

In other news, we’re slow chatting this week over on Twitter. Feel free to join in the fun :) Yesterday the ES did another staff meeting Edcamp. This time it was themed – differentiation. Abby facilitated “Differentiating your own PD.” They discussed using Twitter as a professional learning network for both teachers and students. Love what’s happening at #AISQ8 :)

#AISQ8 is starting a slow chat: #AISQ8chat

Last week Christina emailed six staff at our school to share information about the first ever #nesachat. Then we got thinking about how many staff at our school are actually on Twitter. We were pretty surprised (and excited) that there are 15 of us! For our school, this is kind of a big deal. The dominoes started falling from there: I created a list of all our Tweeting peeps, we settled on a new hashtag (now #AISQ8, formerly #AISK), and started tweeting about our MS/HS Edcamp (#edcampq8).

This week we’re taking it a step further with a slow chat (#AISQ8chat). We’re hoping to expand on what people already know about Twitter and help some of our staff become more comfortable using it as a professional development tool. This week it will be a 3-day slow chat centered around a Twitter K-W-L. Details are below (created by Christina). Please help initiate our staff to the power of Twitter by participating with us :) Looking forward to it!

Oman #GAFEsummit – a whirlwind!

After spending spring break in Oman last year, it is now one of Jeff and I’s favorite countries. We love it. When Jim & Marcello asked if we wanted to come to the EdTechTeam Summit…we were all in!

Now that the craziness of the last 2 days is over, I’m sitting here in our hotel room enjoying the view and reflecting on the Summit before we fly back to Kuwait tonight.

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Friday we had a great time checking participants in – I really enjoyed starting the summit off with this kind of energy and connection! I’m just bummed I didn’t have time for the photo booth :) I had two sessions on Friday (slide decks embedded below). Most of the pictures in my slide decks are links. I’ve been doing the Harnessing the Power of Google series for a couple years now and it’s always a good time. I found the participants at this Summit engaged and excited about learning. I loved reading my feedback on Friday evening – the positivity and realness was much appreciated.

By the end of the day I was exhausted and not really sure how I was going to make it through Saturday. Then I woke up Saturday morning and realized I was presenting during 3 of the 4 sessions and doing the closing keynote. Whoa. I was a little nervous I was going to fall over from exhaustion at some point. But the energy & excitement of the participants kept me going and I made it through! My two unique sessions are embedded below.

I’m always looking for more recent examples to share of how world language teachers are using Google Apps in the classroom – please contact me and I’d love to include the cool things you’re doing in your classrooms :)

My goal for the Hangouts session is that everyone leaves having participated in 2 successful Hangouts – one On Air lead by me and one of their choice, initiated by them. It’s a hands-on session where we experience lots of bugs in hopes that next time they try it will be smooth and they can start thinking about how to use Hangouts in their classes. I wish I could carry around a box of headphones for this session.

Jim contacted me Tuesday (yes, 3 days before the Summit) and asked if I would give the closing keynote. Freaking out ensued:image1

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Christina‘s response made me laugh at first…and then the more I thought about it, the more genius the idea sounded. I started brainstorming, moved to an outline and then just wrote. I asked for advice from my UKSTL & COETAIL mentors on giving keynotes and bounced ideas off of a few people (huge thanks to everyone!). By 4:15pm Friday I had a slide deck and keynote ready. There were definitely some growing pains! When I gave the keynote it was the first time I’d ever read through the entire thing out loud. A couple minutes in Jeff helped me remember to breathe and slow down. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without having the speaker notes with the timer going. Working on memorizing it will be a huge plus for the future. I have a lot to work on but it felt really good to get the first one under my belt!

Thanks to everyone involved for a great weekend! We’ll be back Oman :)

TAISM & the mountains

TAISM & the mountains

Ancient civilizations coming to life

Have I mentioned that I one of my biggest passions is connecting classrooms around the world? Hopefully that’s old news because I’ve let it ooze into most of the posts I write. The grade 2 blog about Sharing the Planet w/ a focus on water is up and running – and they’re eager to read posts & comments from classrooms & experts around the world.

Next up – grade 3! Andria and Anna have been going through the COETAIL journey together and are gearing up to start their course 5 final project. They have chosen the IB PYP unit of Where We Are in Place and Time in which the students will be learning about ancient civilizations. Read more specifics here and here.


via Stux on Pixabay

Andria and Anna are hoping to connect their students to other classrooms that live in the ancient civilizations they will be studying – China, Egypt, Rome/Italy, Greece, Maya (southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Mesopotamia (Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria). Although Mesopotamia is the closest to Kuwait, it might also be the most difficult to connect to.

Their unit starts at the beginning of March. If you or anyone you know is interested in connecting to a grade 3 class in Kuwait, please let one of us know! They are open to Mystery Skypes, video chats, asynchronous communication and any other ideas you have :)

AISK grade 2 wants to share the planet with you


Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

Our IB PYP grade 2 classes are getting started this week with their next Unit of Inquiry – Sharing the Planet. In order to enhance and share their learning, they have started a blog. Our classes will be posting but they want to hear from YOU (teachers, students, experts, etc)! Here’s how you can help:

  • leave comments on their posts
  • become an author on the blog
  • share how/why you conserve water
  • participate in & share simple experiments with water
  • share something about water (stories, feelings, how you use it, how much you drink or waste, etc)

If you (or someone you know) have any questions or would like to participate, please let us know! They are excited to get perspectives from classrooms all over the world.

More about their unit:

Central Idea: Survival depends on conservation of resources.

ThemeSharing the Planet: An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things.

Focus: Earth Science; Chemistry; Language; PSPE; Social Studies; Math

Lines of inquiry:

  • the properties of water
  • how living things depend on water
  • the availability and distribution throughout the world
  • our responsibility toward the conservation of water

Internationalism: Students will be encouraged to inquire into global issues related to the usage and conservation of water.

Transdisciplinary Skills:
Research Skills: Students will formulate questions, collect data, organize data, and record data. Students will keep record of their usage of water. They will find ways to conserve water. They will also research different animals and plants to inquire into the ways they use/need water.
Thinking Skills: Students will think about themselves, their learning, and those around them. They will carefully consider the ways they use water and how to persuade those around them.

Learner Profile Traits:
Reflective: Students will reflect on their water usage, how they can conserve it and the importance of water to all living things.
Principled: Students will be encouraged to reflect upon their usages of water in their daily lives and improve their practices.

Attitudes:
Integrity: Students will be encouraged to start making better choices and to inspire others to make better choices when using water.
Commitment: Students will be committed to conserving water throughout the rest of the year. Classes will be encouraged to create a contract about water conservation.

Assessment Strategy: Performance Assessment
The students will create a persuasive media piece about conserving water. The media piece must include an overview that details the properties of water, how living things depend on it and why it is important to conserve this resource. The media piece must also include recommendations about how to conserve this resource. Students will be given guided framework for their research.

Staff meetings turned Edcamps

We have staff meetings every Tuesday after school. The middle and high schools alternate between department meetings & divisional meetings. The elementary has a divisional meeting every week. That’s a lot of meetings.

So Taryn (PYP coordinator) and Heidi (counselor) decided to be risk-takers. They organized Edcamps for the three weeks leading up to winter break. I was pretty excited for the opportunity to participate in something new to our school!

The first two weeks I hosted Mystery Skype sessions. I was pretty excited after the session with Andria’s 3rd graders. Paul & Marisa got up early so our teachers could try to figure out where they were located. Then we asked each other questions about where we live and shared ideas for using Skype in the classroom. I created a shared document so that anyone could add resources & ideas.

This week Abby and I faciliated a discussion about finding happiness in Kuwait. As we were talking I took notes about how and where people found things to do. We again shared the document so that anyone could add to the list we started. Our hope is to start a community approach to Instagram in order to easily share what’s happening. Unfortunately you can’t add hashtags to other people’s posts so we’ll have to keep brainstorming!

Image credit: Taryn

As I was sitting down to write this post about our elementary Edcamps, I realized that Taryn already wrote an awesome post! She does a great job of summing up the entire process. Check it out for more info :)

Inspired by our elementary, our middle and high schools will have a two Edcamp sessions during their February professional development day. We’re hoping that in April we can have a school-wide mini-Edcamp and then in late April or early May we can host an Edcamp at our school for Kuwait.

Our GAFE pilot – one of my favorite things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad.
~My Favorite Things, The Sound of Music

[Please reread that and sing along in your head.] My all-time favorite movie. I’m pretty sure I watched it every day for several years between the ages of 5 and 10. In real life some days are just ‘one of those days.’ When I’m feeling frustrated, I simply remember the exciting things that are happening in our school because of our teacher-initiated GAFE pilot.

I've gone Google

On a day that I need a little happiness in my life, here are some of my favorite things:

  • Our 6th grade English students are participating in Literature Circles. Megan & David are using Doctopus to push down meeting templates to the groups (created w/ Doctopus). The students rotate jobs each meeting and complete the meeting notes in preparation for class. Megan was telling me today how the students are using comments within the notes – giving each other encouragement & feedback, reminding each other to complete their portion, and even setting up phone dates to read the book outloud when a group member left hers at home. WOW! And the excitement Megan had when talking about the fact that the students are actually enjoying READING was contagious! They’ve been asked to share more details of what they’re doing in an upcoming department meeting :)
  • While I was observing Megan’s class during their first day of literature circles a couple weeks ago, the students realized they weren’t able to add to the vocabulary tabbles in the Doc because they were using iPads. After identifying the problem, one student created a Google Sheet, shared it with his group and told the class what he’d done. Megan and I were both impressed at how quickly a SIXTH grader had solved his own problem. His English teacher mom wants to start doing whatever Megan’s doing because her son is engaged and excited to read.
  • Megan also rocked it with a Google Slide collaboration. She created a template slide deck and made a copy for each of the middle school advisories. She organized them into folders by grade and then gave everyone with the link editing priviledges. Students and teachers worked together to add people from around the globe who exemplify the IB Learner Profile. Megan was then able to import the slides from each advisory into one big merged presentation. 400 students and teachers collaborated to create this final presentation. :)
  • Collin (HS Humanities) used a shared Google Sheet for a recent banking simulation. I had the pleasure of observing his lesson…I want to just go hang out in his class everyday! I learned a ton about economics from his short lecture/discussion. Students then participated in a banking simulation – pairs chose to either be the accountant or the lendor for their bank. Collin gave 5 of the ‘banks’ a starting sum of $100,000. Lendors then had to make as many loans & deposits as possible with other banks. Accountants kept track of their bank’s transactions using a Google Sheet that Collin created (it automatically kept 20% of the deposit in the bank so students could loan out the other 80%). After the simulation the class discussed how $500,000 became over $2 million and the concept/idea of money…your money in the bank isn’t really real!
  • Our 6th and 7th graders have been using Khan Academy to learn math in a self-directed environment. Rose has been using Google Forms as formative assessment and to collect data on student progress/goals. She was worried that students were becoming focused on getting the right answer and forgetting how important being able to show their work & arguement is. She wanted a way for students to take pictures of their processes and share them with her and their classmates. During our discussion we went through lots of ideas – Instagram, Snapchat (ha!), WordPress, Blogger…we wanted to meet students where they were but also protect their privacy and show them the importance of school vs personal online space. We felt pretty silly when we realized we already had a tool that she could use – Edmodo. She created a new group for all classes – Grade 7 Problem Solvers. Using the app on their phones/tablets, students can take pictures of their work and publish it to the group. Rose (and the rest of the students) can comment and leave reactions to the posts. I’m pumped to follow-up with her and see how this is working!
  • The IB MYP Personal Project always seems to be a huge headache. It’s worth it but it has been difficult to get kids motivated and keep both students & staff supervisors accountable. Our new Personal Project Coordinator (part of our GAFE pilot) asked me to work with him to transfer our PP paperwork to Google Drive. I’ve done some experimenting with it and I’m hoping that it will be live next year. Since this is a work in progress, I’d love feedback on the documents!
  • I made a rookie mistake with Google Forms. But I’ve learned from it so I’m willing to accept it! Our middle school students take Classroom Climate Surveys twice a year for each of their teachers. Typically these have been done on paper and teachers have hundreds of surveys to wade through. This year our MS principal wanted to move an online survey. We tried Office 365 first (since we do pay for a subscription) but it wasn’t powerful enough (can’t make copies, etc). Instead I created a Google Form and made everyone with the link collaborators. I then went into each of the grade level meetings and worked with the teachers to make a copy of the form and use their own copy for their students (edit & add questions, give students the link, turn the survey on & off, view responses, view summary of responses, etc). It was incredibly smooth for some teachers. For others it was way too steep of a learning curve. After having to change my ‘template’ multiple times, I finally realized I should have actually created a template in the gallery. Now I have one! Next time it will run much smoother…inshallah ;)

I’m PROUD to work with these educators who demanded a GAFE pilot and are now running with it. I love observing their classes and hearing about the ideas they (and their students) are coming up with. Even on frustrating days, I love what I do.