zaterdag 26 juli 2014

What have we gained? - Moving mountains for students

Today we went to do some sightseeing in the Canadian Rockies. We planned to visit Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and we got to do some souvenir shopping in the town Banff.

Panorama shot at Lake Louise.

This was indeed very nice. I've been to Banff National Park before, but never to Lake Louise and it is a very beautiful site. Even when it's a little cold and rainy. The water in Lake Louise has this typical color of water that just came from a glacier. I've taken so many pictures, but as always one cannot capture the atmosphere in a picture. I tried anyway. I also took the time to create a Time Lapse movie with the iMotion app for iPhone. How many SEEs can you spot? 

Time Lapse movie from the walk around Lake Louise.

Walking around and chatting with new friends (for life) was a very nice ending of this summit. Besides this beautiful sightseeing tour, the past four days at SMART Technologies HQ was topic of the chatting in the morning. We talked what we most liked, what we thought could be better and talked about what we'd gained and will take home or school with us.

Personally I would have loved that we shared more (lesson) ideas, worked and collaborated more with each other, rather than the in my opinion technical issues regarding SMART amp. Don't get me wrong, I really like SMART amp and am looking forward to working with this in my SMART Collaborative Classroom. I do hope that all the comments we made to improve working with amp (and Notebook) will soon be available to make it even beter to work with. Back home I will do a presentation about this trip at school and share all that I've learned and gained from this summit. Mainly it will be things that we've shared in between, such as the outcome of the twitter chat and during the Global Collaboration workshop. We all made new friends and contacts this summit and those I will take with me and either me or one of my colleagues is willing to do a global collaboration project with SEEs from abroad. I also like the Kermit style video's, and that another thing I will take home. I can do that with students within a certain topic I teach or even in my mentor group. And I'm also thinking of Johan and me sharing what we've learned with other Dutch SEEs at the SMART office in the Netherlands ... Lots of ideas and work. Still processing.

Panorama shot taken from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

After Lake Louise we ate the best lunch ever at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and went for some shopping in the picturesque town Banff. I bought some stickers, pins, pencils and t-shirts. This was good and I want to be back! Canada. Is. Epic. Thank you SMART Technologies for taking good care and having me and the other SEEs around the past week!

At Lake Louise with Lise, Kristin and Amanda.

donderdag 24 juli 2014

SEE of White Hats

This morning I created a Time-Lapse movie from the walk from Hotel Alma to SMART Technologies HQ and will add this to the #urban100 community, which embraces #GuerillaGeography to map the world in a slight different way. And I think that's a cool thing.

The hackathon teams presented the outcome of their ideas and they were in just one word amazing! If all this will be added to SMART Notebook and SMART amp we will truly be very happy with that. We (and certainly I) loved all the new things that actually will be added to the new NB and amp versions. It's a good thing to have teachers collaborating with the coders. Looking forward to the next release of NB (and the iPad version!).

Warren Barkley was ours for two hours during the Fireside Chat. About 15 people did get the chance to fire away the question that they really wanted to ask the CTO of SMART Technologies. Mine was a bit long, but was satisfied with the answer. The past few years (2012 till 9 months ago) SMART wasn't that good in my opinion and I was afraid that likewise to Apple, SMART Technologies didn't dare to experiment anymore and that future releases would be as predictable as the larger, better camera having, quicker and better OS etc. iPhoneX (don't get me wrong, I'm a fan). Well he explained that since 9 months SMART is back and all I can say and see after this week: He is totally true. My believes have returned too ...

On the Fireside Chat with Warren Barkley

After the lunch break we were divided in smaller groups and had the chance to discuss in smaller groups a few NDA stuff about both amp and Notebook. I was in a group that chatted further about the mobile version (yes, even smartphones) of amp and what and how teachers and students would want to see and control the content within the SMART amp platform. The teachers were quite unanimous about most things and the developers were very happy with our input.

When we got back from the small-group discussion sessions we were told to go upstairs and gather in the cafeteria of SMART Technologies. While entering the cafeteria we were applauded by the whole team of SMART and there were seats ready for us in a nice dressed up place with balloons etc. This was a huge surprise and it got even better. While the week was wrapped upon by a few very kind words to us by the chief of SMART we were told to check the little gift coupon in our chair (Oprah moment). Most of us gained a couple of thousand points for the Gold Star SEE Challenge (I got 2500) or a book and a few got some big surprises awaiting them. Lise won a new 600-series SMART Board and two others won a light raise interactive beamer. This was very nice! And on top of that we all received a one year license for SMART amp! Whoo-hoo!
Than we all had to do the White Hat ceremony and we were given a White Hat! This was so nice and the SMART staff kept applauding! We felt very special and there were people crying from joy. Lots of pictures were taken and then we had to get back to the Hotel to dress up for the 80's murder mystery dinner at Ford Calgary! This. Was. An. Awesome. Summit! Thank you SMART.

At the end of the day, before I left a few people from the technical department from SMART Technologies were so kind to have a look at my computer. Since the release of SMART Notebook 11, SMART Response Teacher Tools wasn't working on my MacBook, due to flash errors. With some coding added to the registry I am finally able to use the Teacher Tools again on my MacBook. So glad they could help me out! This has been buggering me ever since. So thanks again!

The whole group of Global SEE Summit SMART Exemplary Educators 2014

woensdag 23 juli 2014

Broken Toyz

Allen pointed out this morning the following statement and I must say that I agreed on this one. "Who is crazy enough to present after a night out with Broken Toyz?" Well, it was my turn today so I guess I'm crazy enough. This morning wasn't going very well and I had little trouble with the mild headache and little sleep I had the past night. Anyway, I was up and was about to do two presentations today! One with Kate Seward (whom I met at the Summit in 2011 and I have been collaborating with the past school year) and one on my own about Global Collaboration. This was also the day that my eldest daughter Faye was about to turn eight and whilst following up on the news about the MH17 flight that was shot down from the sky above Ukraine last week, this day was a national day of mourning in the Netherlands because of that.

The topic of today was 'It takes a teacher to grow global understanding' and my presentation and how to set this up in your class room was due today. We started with an open discussion about SMART amp lead by Erica Arnoldin concerning our experience with amp after the SMART amp camp from yesterday. After that the whole group could ask questions to the developers team and loads of requests and feedback was released from the SEEs. I was kinda worried that a lot of requests were about the fact that powerful tools from Notebook should be added in amp, but in my opinion that's not a good thing. Notebook is mainly a teachers tools, where amp is a collaboration tool for students and they shouldn't be the ending up the same. That's all I can say about these NDA sessions.
After the lunch break and before my workshop about Global Collaboration, there were some small presentation of SEEs that have already done some Global Collaboration just to inspire the whole team of SEEs and prepare them for the workshop later this day.

Lise and I are getting a selfie with Neil!
Look what Rafranz gave me! A Sheldon flash drive!

The first presentation I did together with Kate while she was not present at SMART Technologies HQ, but called in from her home address using Bridgit. We'd created a Notebook-file together prior to the summit and showed and shared our experience with our colleague SEEs (present and the ones that joined in via Bridgit) just as Bob, Giovanna, Maria and Chris. We did a great job (well, mainly Kate, because I was still suffering from the Broken Toyz thing ...). And after this show the Global Collaboration 'how to' was on. I had about 90 minutes and the SEEs needed to work and collaborate with each other in small groups that were lead by an EMEA SEE, so there were 24 small groups. The outcome was a Global Collaboration lesson plan for the next school year and needed to be shared in the Gold Star SEE platform. There were some good things going on and I got a lot of positive feedback on my presentation. The SEEs were very happy to work in smaller groups on hands-on assignments. It turned out to be a good day after all.
During the day I interviewed a few SEEs that I have worked with the past year and asked them what was the main benefit from doing such a project. And did I use eXtreme Collaboration? Oh yes I did!

Yulia, Hamdy and Michelle giving their feedback on our projects.

I have shared my presentation via Twitter and a SlideShare version is available here:

Learning Preferences

"There are no learning styles, but learning preferences” is what Heather Lamb pointed out and puts this whole learning thing in a new perspective and is certainly applicable to the way amp works, because since technology is more the way students learn today, than the latest gadget. And today we did a SMART amp camp and received a certificate afterwards as well. The SMART amp camp was lead by Heather Lamb during this day, while others were invited to join a hackathon and had an eight hour session with coders whom would build new features in both amp and notebook upon the input of the attending SEEs. The outcome of that would follow on the next day. 
For both groups this was a very intense day of training. Ainhoa pointed out that in the formerly know SMART Learning Space SEEs could do an online SMART amp collaboration training free of charge. I will do that before next school year starts.

"When there is a correct answer - exercise in creative thinking"

We were asked to respond to the question of what collaboration (with SMART amp) meant. These are a few of the responses that I especially liked:
- 1+1=3
- Personalised learning with AMP workspaces open to all learning preferences.
- Everyone working in the same direction, although the necessarily at the same speed or the same time.

The - according to Rafranz - stock image photo of me collaborating in amp with Lise and DeVane

During this day lots of SEEs created Kermit style video's about the Summit, SMART and education, due to a newly introduced Gold Star SEE Challenge and I interviewed Lise (CA) and deVane (US):

After dinner at the end of the day almost all SEEs attend the #smartee twitter chat! which I prepared with host Rafranz Davis (from TX, USA). We created the next questions which all SEEs could respond to during the twitter chat session.

1. How do you manage to escape from the standardised curriculum and add to your lessons?
2. In what ways do you add creativity to your lessons/content? 
3. How can we create lessons that better prepare kids to be globally prepared?
4. What do you think is most important to teach concerning world citizenship?
5. How do we maintain global awareness in learning

During the one hour Twitter Chat we did, the response was huge and the discussions were running. I respect the fact that Rafranz kept track of everything and guided the whole group through this session. It was great and the best part was yet to come. At the end Rafranz added a sixth question 'what would people want in their class room' and Linda Janssen was one of the people who responded and she asked for wifi in her classroom in South Africa, something they just don't have. Which Warren Barkley (CTO of SMART Technologies and present at the time) responded to that and said that SMART would take care of that. How awesome is that?! There we're tears all over the place.

The day ended with eighties hair metal cover band Broken Toyz at Morgens Pub. 

Receiving the SMART amp camp certificate from Heather Lamb

maandag 21 juli 2014

Amping up at SMART HQ

The first day at SMART Technologies HQ was a great success and still is while I'm writing this. We are with 76(!) SMART Exemplary Educators in one room with great SMARTians to enrich us and make sure than even after day one we will gain a lot which we will takje home and can use directly in our class room. That is my experience after almost one day spending with loads of inspiring people.

At first president of education Greg Estell welcomed us with his keynote about education and how important we as teachers are and can make a difference. He was very kind and made sure that we understood that we are more than welcome and that we matter. Good to know.

"A brand is no longer what a company tells the consumer it is. It's what consumers tell each other it is."

Jenna shared a lot information about the roadmap of the software and hardware of SMART Technologies, but since we signed an NDA we don't have permission to tweet, blog, etc. about it. All I can say is that it keeps on mind-blowing for me ...

Heather Lamb, Erica Arnoldin and others shared (new) features of SMART Notebook 2014 (eXtreme Collaboration, SMART Response VE, Geogebra etc.) and SMART amp during sessions for smaller groups. There's already a list of things that I will take home and will and can use in my SMART Collaborative Classroom.

Stop Motion (200 pics in 20 seconds)

I handed out some souvenirs from The Netherlands and Alphen aan den Rijn - the town I live - to SEEs that I and my students have been working with the past year and to make sure that we will collaborate more next school year. Michelle from Illinois, Mary from Florida, Hamdy from Saudi Arabia and Yulia from Russia are the SEEs present. SEEs that are not present like Emil from the Czech Republic and Kate from Philadelphia.

At the end of the day I was asked to do a TV interview. How awesome is that. I don't have any footage yet, but there's a picture of me at SMART HQ with the TV camera. Lunch was very good, snacks and drinks were provided. After all it was a good day! Looking forward to do more tomorrow!

P.S. check the hashtag #smartee on Twitter to follow in on what's happening at the Global SEE Summit.

With Sergio and Allen

maandag 14 juli 2014

Professional development 2014-2015

During the past school year me and my students did a lot of collaboration with school classes from abroad (United States, Surinam, Curacao, Czech Republic and Saudi Arabia) using tech tools as SMART Bridgit and Skype. I was at BETT 2014 in London, UK and met a few SEEs from Canada, Spain, the UK and Finland and did a few sessions at the SMART Collaborative Classroom and did a session about the use of social media in the classroom at the biggest social media and education summit in Amsterdam. I went on a study trip 'Finland Calling' to Helsinki, Finland from September 22nd till 28th 2013 with the headmaster of my school to have a closer look at the Finnish education system and to gain more about differentiation in the classroom. And from december 2013 my classroom was transformed into a SMART Collaborative Classroom and I have tried a lot new ways to engage students more to cooperate and collaborate with each other whilst using the SMART Boards. I also want to focus on BYOD for students, because since a few months our school has WiFi for all students and will start with BYOD next school year.

Inside my SMART Collaborative Classroom I want more student engagement whilst the use of their own devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets and really want SMARTamp to get going. I'm quite familiar with SMARTamp and will learn a lot more during the Global SEE Summit in Calgary, Canada which should be the best PD thing for teachers ever. Will share more about this one later.

Because SMARTamp is connected to the Google accounts and as inspired by some other SMART Exemplary Educators from the US, I want to do some Google training. At first an online training to become a Google Educator and later in November I want to attent the Google Teacher Academy in Amsterdam to become a Google Certified Teacher as well.

During the next school year I'm looking forward to join a Learning Circle from the Global Teenager Project again with my 'world citizenship'-classes and cooperate and collaborate with other classes from around the globe. Perhaps we could even visit another school as an expedition in another country next school year.

And at last I want to try this Peer Scholar thing, which should be pretty cool to use in my classes. Let the summer begin and I will share more about professional development on this blog ...

SMART Collaborative Classroom from the past school year