Friday, February 7, 2014

Reach Out and Smack (with) Someone!

Depending on your level of Twitterese, you may have heard rumblings about Technology Smackdowns.  Perhaps you have been lucky enough to attend a recent technology conference that has instituted such an activity.   If so, you're lucky enough to come in contact with one of the richest ways to learn new tools by those in the trenches.  The concept is sheer genius.

You see, anyone with a computer and some time can locate a website that one could use in a classroom. It doesn't take much.  However, finding a tech tool that can be skillfully used to foster student learning and content knowledge does.  As a teacher, I want to hear about what other teachers are doing with tools.  I want to glean ideas from them.  Learn about the triumphs and disasters that happened along the way.  Then, and only then, is it worth sharing.  That's where a Smackdown comes in.

Using our Macs and an Apple TV, we broadcast our screens for all to see.

In a typical Tech Smackdown, those attending have two minutes (or some other pre-determined amount of time) to share a web tool AND how it was used.  Questions can be asked.  Ideas can and should be shared, as should basic guidance for the operation of the site.  This is not a sit-and-get type of session. These are full participatory sessions where, if you go, you share. And go, you shall.



 
Stacey, one of our middle school teachers, sharing about ThingLink.
So why am I sharing this with you? Because it's time that Tech Smackdowns make their way into more and more schools.  I am fortunate to have principals in my buildings who are focused and prepared to provide their educators with the very best means of teaching and learning.

Tech Smackdowns (also known as Tech-Know-How's) are infused as part of our in-services .  Even though I am a technology coach, I am not the beat-all, end-all source of all things technology.  We all experiment, learn, try, fail, try again, succeed and teach. We all do.  So why not share!?  With our Macs, we have the ability to easily AirPlay our content to the screen.  We do this, in many rooms, with an Apple TV.  Ninety-nine dollars of awesome, in my opinion.  Yes, there are other ways to mirror.  I just don't like them as well as the Apple TV when you compare cost and functionality.


As Heather presents, others look on to learn about Popplet.





Each teacher has two minutes to share.  Everyone is required to participate.  (And, really, if you teach in a 1:1 school with as many resources, tools, and technology as we do and don't have anything to share, that'd be kinda pathetic.) To keep things neat and tidy, teachers fill out a Google Spreadsheet as to what he/she is presenting to avoid repeats.  This Spreadsheet is then something that one can refer back to when trying to remember what it was that so-and-so shared!  Then, with each subsequent Smackdown, new columns are created. With as many new tools and strategies as there are, there really shouldn't be a need for repeats.  The image below is a partial screenshot of some of this year's Smackdown topics.

So, for the love of Pete, reach out and Smack (with) someone.  Even if it is two of you seeking to learn more.  Do it.  If it's a grade level or department who wants to add to their repertoire.  Do it.  And, maybe--just maybe--if you're lucky, you'll have administrators who see the value in this as a whole staff inservice activity.  Trust me.  It's worth it.  

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