Saturday, September 21, 2013

iPrep for iPads: Mobile Learning Experience 2013

I just got back from Tucson, Arizona where Jenni Voorhees and I attended the 2013 Mobile Learning Experience hosted by Tony Vincent and the Arizona K-12 center.  I thought I was crazy to sign up for a conference taking place the third week of school, but the reality is I have a great co-teacher and an experienced sub to rely on.  It was a terrifically run conference at a fabulous location and well worth the trouble. Moreover, as we prepare to launch the second year of our 1:1 iPad program, the chance to connect with other educators offered inspiration and new ideas, which will ultimately benefit our students.  

In addition to attending the conference, I was selected to present on last year’s 1:1 program, as well as a cornerstone of our professional development program, the PD mantra. Here is a copy of the Prezi for "How iPads Revolutionized our 1:1: Program":

Presenting is such a reflective experience.  Sharing our successes and failures, surprises and challenges, as well as the work of our students, is an honor and a pleasure. It gives me time to pause and question and hope and plan for this year. 

Mobile 2013 reminded me of a few things I do not want to forget:  We are a student centered, student powered classroom.  It is not what they know, but what they can do, make, and create.  Teachers are not to be the “sage on the stage” or the “guide on the side”.  Be the “mentor in the center” who is active, alert, and ready to respond to the many teachable moments that will arise.  Asking good questions is a teacher trait that will never go out of style.  Creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised.  True humor is deep, thoughtful, and requires critical thinking. Children (and adults!) need to play.  Everyone in the room should experience the joy that is learning.  

These are wise lessons offered by wise educators who believe that technology is a fundamental part of learning experiences today.  Teachers must be creative, nimble, responsive, and flexible.  We don’t need to chase fads, but the world is a-changing, and we are currently in possession of the ones who will create tomorrow.  We have to be on top of our game, or they will resent us for holding them back.

A great experience in Tucson was meeting Ben Loker, owner of Arizona Star Tours.  He told us that when he was about 10 years old he discovered he loved the moon and the stars and began a lifelong journey to study astronomy and keep an eye on the sky.   He started out by getting broken telescopes and fixing them.  The shop owners who supplied him with what he needed eventually gave him a job.  He worked for a star tour company and ultimately bought them out.  Now he owns his own business bringing the highest quality portable telescopes to your conference or wedding and teaching you to see what he sees.  He spends hundreds of hours doing exactly what he loves and shares that love with others.  I left that conversation wondering, how can I better support in my students in finding and  pursuing the things they love?  How can we employ the iPads and technology to foster passion? How will I take what I've learned here and turn it into actual enacted curriculum?

I owe it to my students to keep trying new things and figure it out.

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