Virtually presenting at #MACUL15 from #NESASEC – success!

Our #MACUL15 session just ended and I wanted to blog about it while I was still giddy from the experience. Minutes after the session had ended several attendees had already started reaching out to other educators around the world to connect their classrooms. That’s powerful. When we can inspire educators to think outside their norm, realize the power of globally connecting their classroom and take immediate action…I get butterflies inside just thinking about it!

John and Mary were in room 140D at MACUL in Detroit, MI. Jeff was in our apartment in Kuwait. I was in my hotel room at NESA Spring Educators Conference in Istanbul. We used a Google Hangout to connect 3 continents to present to educators about globally connecting their classroom. To be expected, we had some technical difficulties at first. But as we got rolling, the technology cooperated nicely. This was a first for all of us but John did a great job coordinating the 4 of us. Thanks to all that came and watched :)

Our main points:

  • Connecting your classroom has a positive effect on student learning.
  • It’s simple – you don’t need a lot of advanced techy gadgets.
  • Plan with the other teacher in advance. Prepare your students for different cultural norms & to ask quality questions.
  • There are lots of places to start connecting.

Below is our slide deck. We provide links to help educators start immediately (where to start). Check out the Google Form and responses from educators around the world – we’re trying to make it as easy as possible to help classrooms around the world become connected.

PLEASE contact us with any questions or if you’d like us to help you and your classroom get connected. Eager to hear from you and positively impact student learning together :)

#MACUL15 – Live from Kuwait (& Istanbul)!

John, Mary, Jeff and I will be presenting at the 2015 MACUL conference in Detroit on Friday. Jeff will be in Kuwait. I’ll be in Istanbul (at the NESA SEC). John & Mary will be in Detroit. We will be in 3 different countries, on 3 different continents, teaching educators how to globally connect their classrooms. None of us have ever done a session like this and we’re excited for a unique approach to presenting!

What we’d love from our PLNs:

  • testimonials from educators & students around the world – Why connect? What is the power of connecting globally? How have global connections transformed your classroom/learning? Feel free to share these with us in any format!
  • join us live! Watch the broadcast or let us know if you’d like to join the Hangout and talk to attendees for 1-2 minutes about the power of global connections.
  • complete this short survey. We’ll give the results to the attendees of the session (and you if you’d like them) so that global connections can begin immediately!

THANK YOU!

Keeping Design Alive

We have a dilemma at AIS Kuwait. We weren’t able to find a high school Design teacher on the recruiting trail. Because of this, our two K-12 technology integration coaches may have to each teach 2 classes next year. To be clear, I think coaches teaching can be a great idea in some situations. However in our case we have 2 educational technology positions for a student body of 2000 students and over 200 staff. I am eager to see both Design and educational technology thrive at AIS.

There’s still hope…but only if we can find and hire the right candidate. Please spread the word to anyone still looking for international teaching jobs for next year. Jeff or I would be happy to answer any questions you have. And Dave Botbyl is eagerly awaiting your application.

Need a little more information about IB MYP Design? Read on…

From the IB MYP Design Guide (2014):
Nature of Design Design, and the resultant development of new technologies, has given rise to profound changes in society: transforming how we access and process information; how we adapt our environment; how we communicate with others; how we are able to solve problems; how we work and live. Design is the link between innovation and creativity, taking thoughts and exploring the possibilities and constraints associated with products or systems, allowing them to redefine and manage the generation of further thought through prototyping, experimentation and adaptation. It is human-centred and focuses on the needs, wants and limitations of the end user. Competent design is not only within the reach of a small set of uniquely skilled individuals, but can be achieved by all. The use of well-established design principles and processes increases the probability that a design will be successful. To do this, designers use a wide variety of principles which, taken together, make up what is known as the design cycle.

  • Designers adapt their approach to different design situations, but they have a common understanding of the process necessary to form valid and suitable solutions.
  • A designer has a role and responsibility to the community and the environment. Their decisions can have a huge impact and, therefore, their ethics and morals can and should be questioned regularly.
  • A designer should have the ability to maintain an unbiased view of a situation and evaluate a situation objectively, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of a common product or system.
  • Good communication is a key trait of any good designer through visual and oral presentation.

Designing requires an individual to be imaginative and creative, while having a substantial knowledge base of important factors that will aid or constrain the process. Decisions made need to be supported by adequate and appropriate research and investigation. Designers must adopt an approach that allows them to think creatively, while conforming to the requirements of a design specification. Both the ideas of design and the process of design can only occur in a human context. Design is carried out by a community of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and traditions, and this has clearly influenced the way design has progressed at different times. It is important to understand, however, that to design is to be involved in a community of inquiry with certain common beliefs, methodologies, understandings and processes. MYP design challenges all students to apply practical and creative thinking skills to solve design problems; encourages students to explore the role of design in both historical and contemporary contexts; and raises students’ awareness of their responsibilities when making design decisions and taking action. Inquiry and problem-solving are at the heart of the subject group. MYP design requires the use of the design cycle as a tool, which provides the methodology used to structure the inquiry and analysis of problems, the development of feasible solutions, the creation of solutions, and the testing and evaluation of the solution. In MYP design, a solution can be defined as a model, prototype, product or system that students have developed and created independently. A well-planned design programme enables students to develop not only practical skills but also strategies for creative and critical thinking. The MYP expects all students to become actively involved in, and to focus on, the whole design process rather than on the final product/solution.

Aims of Design: The aims of MYP design are to encourage and enable students to:

  • enjoy the design process, develop an appreciation of its elegance and power
  • develop knowledge, understanding and skills from different disciplines to design and create solutions to problems using the design cycle
  • use and apply technology effectively as a means to access, process and communicate information, model and create solutions, and to solve problems
  • develop an appreciation of the impact of design innovations for life, global society and environments
  • appreciate past, present and emerging design within cultural, political, social, historical and environmental contexts
  • develop respect for others’ viewpoints and appreciate alternative solutions to problems
  • act with integrity and honesty, and take responsibility for their own actions developing effective working practices.

The MYP Design Cycle:
Every designer may approach a problem in a different way. Depending on their specialism, designers tend to have their own methodology, but some general activities are common to all designers. The design cycle model underpins the design process. The design cycle model (Figure 3) represents the MYP design methodology of how designers develop products. The process is divided into four stages: inquiring and analysing; developing ideas; creating the solution; evaluating. This incremental process allows the designer to go from identifying a design opportunity to the testing and evaluation of a solution. This process leads to the creation of solutions that solve a problem. It is important to note that, while the design cycle includes several successive stages, the design cycle is an iterative and cyclical process. When using the design cycle, students will often need to revisit a previous stage before they can complete the stage they are currently working on. Solving design problems is not always a linear process.

#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 :)