Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Creating 21st Century Classrooms in Middle School #SXSWedu

Notes from SXSWedu 2012 Concurrent Session.


NOTE from your blogger: This region and these schools and students are doing wonderful, authentic projects. Kudos to them! One of my favorite conference sessions in a long time!!!!

Future is Now is a project out of Region 10 ESC in Richardson.

Ideas going into the Future is Now project:

  • Not device specific.
  • Allow students to bring their own technology
  • Include students and teachers in professional development - this helps create accountability for the teachers to use the technology and also puts students in position of being able to help. At least 3 students came to the PD; many schools brought 6 - 12 students.
  • Teachers do not have to be experts in the technology to use the technology in their classroom
Alan November and Howie DiBlasi are some of the speakers who came to Region 10 as part of the training.

Tina Fey Quote: "The show doesn't go on because it's ready. It goes on because it's 11:30." In the same way, technology isn't going to wait to happen until we are ready for it.

Use of Project Share highly encouraged but not required. Group web page created in Project Share. Many publicly available documents available on their public page.


People can review previous events like November and DiBlasi; resources and recordings are posted in the group.

Each campus (there are 20) has their own wiki within the group. Students are members of the group but can not be seen by the public or by each other.


250 students in the middle school. Principal wanted to do more with technology. Jumped at chance to participate with the Region 10 Future is Now initiative. One of the biggest changes that came to the campus was BYOD. Obstacles included no wireless at the campus and an anti-cell phone policy at their campus. Within a few months of starting the project, the Superintendent and school leadership saw the necessity of moving to a new paradigm. Wireless has been added and a BYOD policy has been put in place.

Best Practices:
  • Survey students to see what they have at home
  • Keep cell phones face down on desks so teachers know when they are being used
  • Students use district wireless. This is monitored by teachers
  • Every student does not need a device. Take instruction from Alan November's idea of the "class farm". Give each student a job - blogger, researcher, etc.
Two Gunter 8th graders came forward during the session to present the Prezi linked above. Examples of projects are linked in the Prezi. In year two of this project, 8th graders are now investigating the extreme drought in Texas. 

Awesome - these 8th graders have QR codes on their T-shirts you can scan to follow their drought project progress!!!

Bells ISD 

First thing they had to do was get past the culture that was anti-BYOD. You have to have the right teachers doing the right things with the devices. They are supplementing netbooks, shared among three students throughout the day. 

Big change has been seeing teachers being more willing to have students involved in their learning.

Three students in grades 2 - 5(?) now come forward to present.

Students saw Glogster at Region 10 training and wanted to use it when they got back to their school. They describe it as "way more fun than doing a book report with pencil and paper". :-)


Bells FINsters Project Share Group: http://www.epsilen.com/grp/1220947

One project the students did included making a video about how to properly take care of the portable lab. Students star in this video!!!

STT = Students Teaching Teachers - Students creating video tutorials to help teachers come up on their tech skills. Sample video they showed was a student showing how to organize the desktop of your computer.They are working on making a tab for the school web page to post all of the STT videos.

Another project: http://noveladventurez.wikispaces.com/ - A wiki for recommending books to read.


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