I just reserved my hotel room for ISTE 2012 and I am starting to freak out. I don’t know why, but I am really excited about this year’s conference. It might be because I use the annual ISTE conference as the charger for my edtech batteries. Usually by the time I finish the school year I am brain-fried, and I find myself lacking inspiration for what to do next with my students. But then I go to ISTE…
I mostly go to ISTE conferences for two main reasons:
1) First and foremost I go to be inspired, and I never know where this inspiration will come from. Sometimes it happens in a conference session or at a keynote, but more often than not it happens when I am just visiting with fellow attendees.
2) My second reason is to steal ideas, I am under a lot of pressure to be the “Techie Guy” in my school and I need to find some good ideas to steal and make them my own. My principal might ask where I got the idea to use LEGO WeDo or something like that and I just say, “Oh, it just came to me one day.”
So beware fellow attendees of ISTE, watch what you say when you are around me, you never know when I might just be inspired to use our steal your ideas.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School
Like many educators, the reasons why I teach vary as the school year progresses. It is now spring in my area and the students are starting to get squirrelly, which means classroom management goes into overdrive. I usually start in August with high hopes and ambition but by April, that gas is starting to run low and is being replaced with pure survival instinct.
I was starting to run on get-to-the-end-of-the-school-year mode when I started to do more work with a digital band that I had been playing with throughout the year. Since December I had been working with a few students in my tech class and with only digital instruments on mobile devices to put together an actual song. For weeks we had been getting together at lunch a few times a week to practice the Katy Perry song “Firework.” Sometimes things would come together and other times it was a mess. Anyone who has worked with 9 year-olds know what I am talking about.
Things were looking bleak.
Then a 9 year-old girl named Logan offered to sing the song. Let me tell you, she got up to sing with all the confidence of a seasoned rocker and she belted this song out. I sat back in my chair, mouth gaping open in shock, amazed and the talent of this girl. At the end she looked around at all of us and asked how she did. I was without words, and I had goose bumps on my arms. “That was amazing!” I finally said. Nobody knew Logan could sing.
Which brings me back to my reasons for teaching: I teach to be inspired – inspired by my young students. My tech students shock me most every day with hidden talents that I never knew they had. They make me want to be a better teacher. My tank is now full again and I am ready to “bring-it” every day until the end of this school year.
So thank you Logan for inspiring me, your teacher, and I hope I can do the same for you some day.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary SchoolRead More
This school year I added Bob the Puppet to our morning news show. At first I didn’t really think that fourth or fifth grade students would be capable of operating a puppet — boy was I surprised. The student I have this quarter is fantastic at it and has raised the bar for the students that will be the puppeteer in the upcoming quarters.
Here’s the problem. Bob is such a celebrity in our school that students line up outside the our podcasting studio just to get a glimpse of Bob. Here are some photos of Bob and the rest of our podcasting crew.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elmentary
Behind the Scenes Video so you can see Bob and the podcasting crew in action.Read More
#edtech #edchat #elemchat
A big thing happened last week in my elementary school with regards to podcasting. You see, last week we published our 308th episode of our student-made news show, which makes our elementary school the one with the most published podcasts on iTunes. We also have over 4,300 subscribers which makes us also the most listened to elementary school podcast. This is all great and I am really proud of my students for this, but beyond the numbers something amazing is happening in our podcasting studio.
Years ago when I first got the idea to do podcasting with elementary-aged students (grades 3-5), I imagined a funny and informative show, that was done in a professional yet relaxed manner. But that was not what I got when I started. I had robotic readers that couldn’t really tell a joke on air, let alone, read announcements properly. But then in my second quarter I got a one student who changed everything — and this gave me hope of what could be made with this young of students.
From then on, with each new quarter of students coming in, I began to tweak the show. Here a little, there a little, and the students started to build upon what they had seen their classmates do. The show was getting better!
Every summer I would listen to past episodes trying to figure out what was not quite right. And at the beginning of every school year I would change how the shows were made, which brings me to the current year. I have finally decided on a crew of five. Two hosts, a puppet, a sound tech and a producer. This seems to be the perfect size to get a good show. One host, the producer and the puppeteer do every show for a quarter, which gives me good consistency. The second host and the sound tech are different for each day. For example, one student is always the Wednesday sound tech, etc.
So yesterday I brought a Flip video camera into the studio just to get a video of what they do because we only record the audio for our podcast, many of our fans wanted some behind the scenes footage of our crew in action. What I recorded in nothing short of amazing. You will see that my students follow an outline for the show: announcements, weather, lunch, etc. But then you will see them ad-lib so much more. They are relaxed, confident and know how to make a great show.
What you won’t see, or hear, is me giving them direction. This is 100% student-made, they have a student producer who keeps the show together and they do it all. Students can do amazing things with technology — they want to be creators of digital content, so with a little time and effort unbelievable things are possible.
If you want to check it out for yourself, here are some links:
Behind the Scenes Video of yesterday’s show (you won’t hear the sound effects because those are recorded directly to the computer, listen to the iTunes podcast to HEAR the show how it is recorded)Read More
#edtech #edchat #elearning
Yesterday I spent a few hours reviewing my notes from all of the edtech conferences that I attended this past summer. While going through my notes I kept a list of the ideas that I wanted to try with my students this upcoming 2011-2012 school year. By the time I was done with my review, my list of was over 38 items! How do I incorporate 38 new ideas into my classroom this year?
One of the general problems with today’s society is information overload. But how do we cure it? How do we stay up-to-date with our lessons without feeling like we are just chasing our edtech tails?
The reality is that you cannot do everything — you need to prioritize. So I went back over my edtech idea list and I started to rate each item; one star=cool but I can like without, two stars=I really want to try this, and three stars=I must do this.
After I rated each item, I ended up with only 6 – three star items. My pulse rate started to slow down as I realized that I could deal with 6 new edtech ideas this year.
I then opened up my scope and sequence for all of my classes and started to look for areas where I could incorporate these new ideas. Within just a few minutes I had these items in, and I started to revise my lesson plans.
Now that I was done with the “must haves,” I moved on to the edtech ideas that I really like but were not critical – I had 10 of these on my list. By the time I was done with my lesson planning I had 7 of the 10 ideas included. So from 38 I now have only 13 new ideas, a much more manageable list. But it was still a list of 13 ideas that I needed to figure out before school starts again in 10 days. So the next thing I did was to open my Atomic Learning account and start looking for tutorials on these edtech ideas. I found out that most of my new ideas had tutorials — now I could sleep at night.
Teachers: you can’t do it all — but you can do most of it with a little strategic planning.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary SchoolRead More