2014 turned out to be a great tech year! There were new iOS devices and operating systems. We were able to work across devices and laptops seamlessly. The sharing of information, photos, and documents became easier and easier as the year went on thanks to Apple. For our teachers, there seemed to be an endless supply of new learning opportunities to stay on top of effective teaching practices using technology. Many people jumped on the opportunity to use The Hour of Code to get students involved in basic coding skills. Genius Hour or 20% Time took off as a way to engage kids in their own passion for learning and online design tools like Canva made online publishing beautiful for anyone!
Here are a list of 10 things we think you should take into 2015. This list has the staying power to sustain your love of integrating technology in the classroom for months to come.
- #HourofCode: Did you know 48 million people signed up to participate in the hour of code this year? There are not enough Americans to fill all the coding jobs out there? According to a Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that jobs for what it calls “computer and information research scientists” will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, a healthy rate. For software developers the forecast is even better, with a projected growth rate of 30%. coding is necessary skill for careers of the future. The hour of code and the abundant resources available makes it easy for every student in the United States to give coding a try. Becoming a computer scientist is one of the hot careers for the next 10 years. Check out code.org for tutorials and more coding opportunities for students beyond the Hour of Code. As President Obama said, “Don’t just consume things, create things.
- Genius Hour or 20% time: What is genius hour? According to http://www.geniushour.com/, “Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. It’s not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour.” Teachers are finding as they implement genius hour, there is a shift in classroom energy. Students are fueled with drive and curiosity is rekindled. This engagement leads to new ideas, inventions, and new levels of learning. A hot new book is Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level by Don Wettrick. “One of the benefits to a passion-based project is that students learn to love learning,” Wettrick said on page 31 in his book.
- Connected Educators: One of the ways to be inspired is to learn from other educators. Bob Dillion (@ideaguy42 ), keynote speaker at the Fall NETA conference in Kearney, NE, challenged us to find five people who do our job better than we do and learn from them. What better place than Twitter, Google +, or Facebook to learn from others. The website http://connectededucators.org/ is a great resource to help you get connected. Here are 12 great ways to get connected.
- Canva: Canva, www.canva.com is a free online design platform. Canva lets you create banners, posters, postcards and more for online publishing. Students can use Canva to create images to post to kidblog.org or their own websites. It can be used as an alternative to posters or collages. It is also a great tool for infographics. Most designs are free and those that are not free are only $1.00.
- #tlap: Teach Like A Pirate has taken off since last summer and hasn’t slowed down a bit! We have used Dave Burgess’ (@burgessdave) book for online book studies, in-person trainings, and all around inspiration for shifting attitudes about teaching and filling teachers with the enthusiasm they once had for our profession. The hashtag #tlap has a huge following on Twitter and is worth a few minutes a day for inspiration and fresh ideas.
- Google Classroom: Google Classroom is a great way to manage your classroom with or without a 1 to 1 set-up. Teachers can use Classroom to send assignments to students, make announcements, and grade student work all from your computer. This is a one stop shop for students and teachers to connect. We are seeing many clubs and organizations using Google Classroom also. Student council, sport teams, NHS organizations, and clubs have found great uses for Google Classroom.
- Google+ Hangouts: Google+ Hangouts provide a variety of opportunities for teachers and students alike. Imagine connecting with another classroom in a different state, or country, for that matter and having your students participate in an activity where they ask descriptive questions to figure out where the other class is locate. This is a Mystery Hangout. Each student is assigned a role, including mappers, questioners, and videographers. It is a great collaborate activity that all ages and disciplines can benefit from. You can also use Hangouts to connect with experts and bring them into your classroom. How about connecting with a zoo and talking about habitats or an astronaut and talking about space exploration, or connect with a musician and play music together. As a teacher, you can use Hangouts to connect with other educators and discuss ideas and best practices. The options are truly endless. Find great people in the Google Plus Connected Classrooms community.
- Global Projects: Global projects take the shape of many different learning activities. One that we love is the global readaloud. This was started by an 7th grade English educator, Pernille Ripp, who wanted to connect students across the world through literature. Tapping into the Google Connected Classrooms Community is another great way for educators to connect with others and create your own activity. For example, Spanish classrooms in Bellevue connected with a Spanish class in Alabama for a conversation activity. Students enjoyed using their conversational Spanish with a purpose and had fun meeting new friends too. Project Based Learning (PBL) is another way to facilitate global projects as PBL lends itself to utilizing connections throughout the world to make their projects happen. Check out the Flat Connections Global Classroom Project and sign up for a 2015 global learning experience for your students. Students of all ages can participate.
- EdtechTeam iOS NE Summit: Definitely look for this in 2015!!! This one is so hot, it sizzles! For the first time ever, Bellevue Public Schools will be hosting the Nebraska iOS Summit this summer, July 29-30 at Bellevue West High School! This will be an amazing event for educators. This event will focus on the use of technology to support teaching and learning. The session will be intended for an audience of teachers, school leaders, and IT managers (with varying technology skills) from schools in the region. The content will focus on iPads, iOS and educational apps used to leverage learning in the classroom. Not only will there be high caliber national presenters, there will also be amazing local presenters too! Registration is open and you and your friends can register here at: http://ne.iossummits.com/
10. #Edcamps: Edcamps are still all the rage and gaining momentum across the country. As long as people attend and share content, edcamps will continue to be a popular venture for committed, innovative educators. Edcamps are basically non-conference conferences where there is no schedule, no keynote speakers, and NO COST! Edcamps are free for educators, but does accept donations to help keep it afloat. Check out an edcamp near you! If you are in the midwest, you won’t want to miss #EdcampOmaha which is coming March 21, 2015.
Jeanette Carlson @mrsjcarlson
Ann Feldmann @annfeldmann1Jenny Krzystowczyk @jennykbps
"The Cities With The Most Computer Science Jobs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/09/24/the-cities-with-the-most-computer-science-jobs-2/>.
"President Obama Kicks off the Hour of Code 2014." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDw1ii7aKwg&feature=youtu.be>.