I don't think I can say it enough. I went to ISTE with this thought in mind: one gem. I just need one nugget of information that lights me on fire. Isn't this the way it often goes when a teacher attends a professional development opportunity? Okay, I hear ya. Some people grudgingly drag their feet to PD. I choose to look forward to such opportunities in an effort to grow in this career that I love.
I attended more than 17 hours worth of sessions at ISTE. and I did come across some awesome sessions with fresh ideas to fill my tank (click on the link; I promise it's worthwhile!). On the third day, however, I was still searching for the gem that would make me go, "aha! Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" Really? Am I the only one who does this? Okay, moving on...
So there I was, day three. I started to wonder if I was going to stumble across this moment before making the short drive back home. My head was swimming with ideas already, so maybe I ought to give it up already.
I am incredibly lucky to have a support system in my district (shout out to you lovely people!) who encourage me to take risks in my classroom and who seek my feedback to make things work better. For this occasion, I was signed up to have students present how high school students act as both consumers and creators of virtual reality. If you've read my last post, you've seen a little bit of how my students have become consumers of virtual reality.
At ISTE, my students were presenting on how they created virtual reality projects. Yes, my FRESHMEN students, five fabulous ladies, were presenting to educators about what they had created. As I explained to a colleague about how three of my students were those who barely spoke in class, she looked at me like I was crazy. These three students were explaining their project and answering questions as if they were the most talkative students in my classes.
- Students were excitedly presenting on topics they chose and they created.
- Students came across challenges in their projects, and were proud of how they overcame the challenges to create their projects.
- Students were empowered to speak because of the above, but also, because of this: their teacher thought their project was worthy of presenting at a prestigious event and they had an authentic audience in which to present to.
If that's not a sparkly gem and a highlight of my teaching career, I don't know what is! Teachers really need to think creatively and critically about how to incorporate the elements bulleted above into their courses if they wish to really, truly empower students.
That's all for me today. I know you're probably still waiting to hear about what my students created with VR, but that's for another day. :)