Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rebel U 2011: Guest Post (Part 3 in Guest Blogger Series)

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2011.

As part of the Rebel U 2011 evaluation, we asked participants if they were willing to be a guest blogger on our Godfrey-Lee Technology & Media blog.  We were not only interested in hearing (and sharing) first hand accounts from attendees and presenters, but also introducing some teachers to publicly posting content online for the first time and building an online presence.

Today's guest post is written by 7th and 8th grade Language Arts teacher, Alissa Coil.  You can find Alissa online on Twitter.

Participating in Rebel U is by far the most relevant and interactive professional development I have participated in during my teaching career. This year I had the opportunity to participate both as a presenter and a 'student'. I enjoyed being able to share what I have learned about RebelNet with a group of teachers who did not have the same amount of experience with the website. Although presenting was a great experience, being a 'student' for the day was much more beneficial. I attended presentations on Animoto, Project-Based Learning, Voicethread, and 40 in 40 (a variety of tech resources). Some of the resources we discussed were refreshers for me, like Animoto and PBL, and others were brand new, like Voicethread. During the Voicethread presentation, we had time to create our own Voicethread to use in a class. I created one using different pieces of art from my first unit of instruction (8th grade ELA). Students were able to access the site and make comments based on the prompts that I provided. It wasn't the easiest resource to use in class, but I will use it again, and have students create their own to demonstrate what they have learned in different units.

I believe that if every school had their own version of Rebel U, education could be transformed in our county, state, and nation. I'm thankful that our tech team takes the time to teach us HOW we can "Rebel Up".

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rebel U 2011: Guest Post (Part 2 in Guest Blogger Series)

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2011.

As part of the Rebel U 2011 evaluation, we asked participants if they were willing to be a guest blogger on our Godfrey-Lee Technology & Media blog.  We were not only interested in hearing (and sharing) first hand accounts from attendees and presenters, but also introducing some teachers to publicly posting content online for the first time and building an online presence.

Today's guest post is written by several Godfrey-Lee employees.  An introduction to each is listed above their post.

Elayna Durso is a secondary teacher in the World Languages Department.  You can find more information on Elayna here.

I learned a significant amount of great on-line resourses for my stundents during Rebel U technology training at GLPS.  What really stands out are the amazing research options through the Kent District Library provided by Kelly McGee and the fabulous 40 teacher sites offered by Sarah Wood.  I'm excited to use these in my classes and introduce them to students through great new learning projects. Thank you to all!

Jake Manning is the 9th Grade Student Advocate at Lee High School.

First thing is first; the Rebel U was a huge success this year, and on many fronts. The Tech Team at GLPS did an incredible job of seeing a great opportunity for staff to grow professionally as well as collaboratively sharpen one another through a PD day such as Rebel U. From there, the Tech Team organized a day full of diverse educationally-charged technology presentations and workshops. The best  part, the talented presenters were some of GLPS' very own savvy staff members! Whether it was a detailed walk through our comprehensive RebelNet system, learning how to effectively mesh Twitter and education, or enjoying a burger (or two) on the front lawn of Lee High School with the entire GLPS family, Rebel U 2011 turned out to be an experience worth remembering by all. 

A huge 'thank you' is in order for the entire Tech Team and all the presenters on developing and executing such an outstanding day of professional development. We are proud Rebel U graduates of the class of 2011!


Teri Chandler is the Dean of Students at Godfrey Elementary.  You can find Teri online through Twitter.

I thoroughly enjoyed our day at Rebel U.  Notice I used the word "our".  I felt it was a TEAM effort to produce Rebel U and it was TEAM of educators that learned, experimented and were inspired together.  Our own staff with their multitude of experiences and talents were willing to share with others for the benefit of all.  This feeling became a strong current all day which led to a positive "I can do this!" attitude.  Eating lunch together, talking, sharing, and learning became the focus of Rebel U.  Our staff is now empowered and inspired to explore, use and implement what we were exposed to in our sessions.  This is the real spirit of Rebel U!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rebel U 2011: Photo Contest Winners

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2011.

As part of the Rebel U 2011 experience this year, we held a photo contest to engage participants in an activity that extends beyond the learning that takes place in their sessions. We had several people participate in the contest and it was difficult to select a winner. Winners will receive a web cam for their photos. Winners were selected based on how their photo fit one of two categories:
  1. Rebel U 2011: A picture that represents the theme of Rebel U - "Innovation Through Collaboration"
  2. Godfrey-Lee: A picture that symbolizes Godfrey-Lee Public Schools.
... And the winners are...

Rebel U 2011 Theme: Julie Swanson

Godfrey-Lee: Melissa Gill
Description: I took this picture of someone working on their netbook with the netbook as the focus because of our school vision being focused on 1 to 1 with the "anywhere, anytime, any device" motto.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you again to everyone who participated! If you would like to see a collection of all the pictures gathered from Rebel U, please click here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rebel U 2011: Guest Post (Part 1 in Guest Blogger Series)

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2011.

As part of the Rebel U 2011 evaluation, we asked participants if they were willing to be a guest blogger on our Godfrey-Lee Technology & Media blog.  We were not only interested in hearing (and sharing) first hand accounts from attendees and presenters, but also introducing some teachers to publicly posting content online for the first time and building an online presence.

Today's guest post is written by 6th grade Language Arts teacher, Melissa Gill.  You can find Melissa online on Twitter and she also has her own web site.

A Rebel U Presenter P.O.V.

This was the second year of Rebel U and my first year presenting there.  I figured this would be a great way to practice speaking in front of my peers.  A small step towards self improvement.  Not only one session, but presenting two 90 minute sessions.  No problem, I can make that work!  In fact it was set up nicely.  My first 90 minute session would be with Sarah Wood and my second session would be on my own.

Session 1 - Test-Taking Strategies & Tools
Sarah and I had met numerous times the previous school year and a couple over summer break on our session Test-Taking Strategies & Tools.  We had surveyed and tweaked our presentation to meet the needs of our attendees as much as possible.  I, of course, was nervous but also at ease with Sarah presenting with me.  Having another person presenting with me helps alleviate the stress and when I forgot to say something, she was there to help and vice versa.  In fact we ran out of time and we could have done another 90 minute session finishing our presentation.  I thought our session went really well!  On the other hand, I have no idea what our attendees thought.  

Take it:  Having a co-presenter really helped with stress.  I would also keep the time allotment for the attendees to actually do the activities helped them make connections to the student point of view.

Leave it:  We could have narrowed down our strategies to allow time for the attendees to share some of their test taking strategies with everyone.  By no means am I an expert on test taking strategies and should have allowed the time for others to share what has worked for them.  I would also create a session evaluation to see what the attendees thought.

Session 2 - Effective Tech in the Classroom
My second presentation was on Effective Tech in the Classroom.  This session was was solely on me.  I use technology on a daily bases in my classroom and wanted to share what works, especially with the middle school staff that will be dealing with the 1:1 program in the near future.  I organized my presentation based on how I learn best and feedback I have received from other teachers about learning technology.  After a bad start with major nervousness, I got everyone started on their QR code scavenger hunt, then gave them time to play around with some web tools, and finally wrapped up the session with each group presenting on their group’s coolest tool.  That way everyone was responsible for only one tool, but can refer back to the Google site any time to check out the other tools at a later date.

Take it:  A few attendees expressed that they enjoyed the movement (scavenger hunt) and time to try out some new web tools.  That time to learn the tools was valuable to them, so I would keep that and it allowed me to walk around and help those that needed it.

Leave it:  The 90 minutes was long and I did not fill it appropriately.  I could tell a few attendees had become bored and were ready to go.  I should have planned more active activities because it was the last session and everyone was a bit worn out by then.  I would also have changed the name to “Effective Web Tools for the Classroom” because I wasn’t showing how to use any technology, just different websites they could use in the classroom.

Presenting at Rebel U was a great experience!  The technology department, especially Sarah Wood, did a fantastic job organizing everything and making the presenters feel comfortable.  I will definitely do it again!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rebel U 2011: Teacher Learning & Experiences

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2011.

As part of the Rebel U 2011 evaluation, participants were asked to complete the following sentence, "If you were at Rebel U 2011, you would have learned, witnessed, or experienced..." (similar to the question Scott McLeod posed on his blog, Dangerously Irrelevant). We received many responses that really spoke to the learning experience that teachers encountered during the day.

So, if you had attended Godfrey-Lee Public Schools' Rebel U 2011, you would have learned, witnessed, or experienced...
  1. Teachers focused on doing what is best for students.
  2. New ways to implement technology in the classroom.
  3. A very involved staff who knows a lot!
  4. A lot of talented people who took a lot of time and energy to create, master and explain things they use to help in their classrooms.
  5. How to use technology in your classroom without stressing out.
  6. Practical ideas to use yourself or with your students.
  7. How to integrate technology into your classroom to increase engagement.
  8. The welcome involvement of technology at all levels of education.
  9. Co-workers teaching co-workers new ideas and new uses of current things.
  10. The technology and wisdom of those presenting.
  11. Technology doesn't stop even if servers are down! We just kept on learning.
  12. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things with technology.
  13. Multiple ways to engage learners in active experiences in order to prepare them for the digital world in which they live.
  14. You would have witnessed Ron Houtman.
  15. How professional teachers look forward to being more effective.
  16. Educators who are focused on 21st Century learning and very valuable collaboration amongst our Rebel family.
  17. Teachers learning and playing together.
  18. Staff members presenting information they are excited about which would make you excited about using the tool presented!
  19. Cooperative learning.
  20. How far I am behind in technology and what great opportunities lie in the future.
  21. The constant buzz of different technological tools as people experienced many different conversations and applications.
  22. Teachers working together to help each other be more effective.
  23. Teachers learning the tools needed to reach the 21st Century student.
  24. Highly effective teachers increasing their knowledge for a technology driven curriculum and school year.
  25. Supportive instruction.
  26. How dedicated the Godfrey-Lee staff is to trying new things and implementing technology into their classes, not only so that their students learn and grow in an exciting way, but so that they can learn and grow from their students!
  27. Individuals talking together, helping each other and an understanding of issues that arise from technology.
  28. Teachers in students' shoes learning new ways to engage their students.
  29. Fantastic ways to connect with others and explode learning into bits of fun, fantasy and future use.
  30. How hard Dan T. works.
  31. Many professional and talented educators modeling and teaching their peers.
  32. Enthusiasm, excitement and empowerment.

The buzz of Rebel U could also be found on Twitter and TodaysMeet. Some of the tweets noted from the day:
  1. The excitement leading to Rebel U.
  2. The Tech team working early to get ready for the day.
  3. Teachers looking for bribery.
  4. Teachers using Twitter on their mobile device for the first time.
  5. Past Tech team members still joining in the day.
  6. Teachers overcoming technical difficulties to keep the learning going.
  7. Teachers learning about Twitter while using Twitter.
  8. Teachers sharing resources they learned about in their sessions.
  9. Teachers collaborating together for session presentations.
  10. Teachers promoting the motto of the Tech & Media team.
  11. Guest presenters participating in a panel discussion.
  12. People not associated with GLPS or Rebel U enhancing the discussions of the day.
  13. Teachers exploring test taking strategies.
  14. Tech team members calling each other out.
  15. Showing some sponsor love!
  16. Panel discussion members being serious.
  17. Tech team members reminiscing about Rebel U preparations. (Picture here.)
Doesn't it make you wish all technology professional development was like Godfrey-Lee's Rebel U?

Rebel U 2011: Recap

For the second year, the Technology & Media Team at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools has put on a district-wide professional development opportunity, Rebel U, that allows teachers and administrators to explore ways to integrate technology into their classrooms and professional practice. The theme for Rebel U this year was "Innovation Through Collaboration," allowing participants to collaborate with one another and delve into new ways technology can be utilized in the classroom. We had many teachers that stepped forward to share tools and resources they are using in their classroom as well as techniques and strategies that have proven effective for their students. This day would not be the success that it is if it weren't for our fantastic presenters!

The day started out unexpectedly with some server and Internet connection problems, but despite being a day focused on technology, teachers and presenters adapted and the day went on. Shortly after our second session began, all connections were restored and the sharing and learning continued. Although this is not the ideal start to a day focused on technology, I think it represents an issue that can happen any day in the classroom. As great as the technology is that we have in our district, glitches happen and the learning must continue. Teachers don't completely throw a day of learning out the window because their plan A didn't go as planned - plan B begins and the learning continues. This is exactly what happened at Rebel U and is representative of the day's theme - "Innovation through Collaboration" - teachers came together, improvised and the learning continued.

One of the goals of the Technology & Media Team for Rebel U is to foster a learning environment that is comfortable and relaxing. As the day is structured after the model that many other technology conferences use, the time allotted for lunch is limited. After a morning of attending several sessions, teachers often need a break to step away from technology and refuel. One thing we have been proud to do for our teachers last year and then again this year is to provide a free lunch. As funding was tight this year, we had to look to outside sources to help us offer a free meal as part of the day. We had an awesome sponsor step forward this year, Townsend Innovative Collections, and cover the costs of providing refreshments and lunch for the day. It was a beautiful day and teachers were able to relax on the front lawn of the high school and enjoy burgers, brats and hot dogs that were grilled up by one of our administrators, Brett Lambert, and a school board member, David Townsend.

As part of our on-going efforts to provide meaningful and effective professional development, we asked all participants to complete an evaluation of the sessions they attended as well as the day in general. On part of the evaluation, teachers were asked, "In ONE word, how would you summarize your Rebel U experience?". There was a wide range of responses that were received, but the most common response was "Informative" (as seen in the word cloud below). I believe this truly speaks to the fact that there are many technology tools, resources and strategies that are available that there is always something new that one can learn.

We hope that the spirit of Rebel U will continue throughout the school year and teachers will continue to explore, collaborate and utilize technology tools with their students. The Technology & Media Team would also like to extend a special thank you to Superintendent David Britten, who firmly believes in the benefits of using technology as a tool in the classroom and as a professional development tool and makes it possible for us to organize a professional development day focused on technology for the teachers and staff at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools.

Look forward to further posts regarding Rebel U 2011. We have several more posts lined up about some of the exciting aspects of Rebel U and also had many teachers volunteer to be guest bloggers and talk about their experiences during Rebel U. The sharing continues!


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