Updated: Apr 27
As noted in my earlier blog, Reaching For "More" In Texas, I’ve twice had the privilege this year of working with a wonderful group of new friends in the beautiful landscapes of Westwood, Texas. Within this post, I’d like to focus on our second meeting together and what we were able to accomplish.
As with any of my Teach4Endurance consultations, nothing is truly linear and easy. We’re going to dig deep, reflect, work, share, laugh (and sometimes even cry) with the goal of growing personally and professionally together.
Part I - Logistics
Just as in my own classes (when teaching), I have a simple pedagogical approach: work as one synergistically. When working as one familial unit, greatness can be accomplished.
HAVE A GAME PLAN! Whether teaching, consulting, presenting, parenting, coaching (you get the idea), getting caught on your heels is never optimal. Why? Because if so, you’re forced to act in a reactive manner (and poor choices often coincide with such an approach). When possible, I prefer to prepare/act in a proactive manner and “attack” if you will, rather than “be attacked”. By doing so, you’re able to dictate more of the terms of a scenario, rather than be dictated to.
More often than not, I begin any consulting session with music. Music is the pathway to the soul and brings people together in a wonderful way. We live to a beat do we not? Case closed. So, I usually pick a song that has a thematic connection to our goals together. In our second meeting, my Westwood friends and I performed the first verse and course of “Days Go By" by Keith Urban. The notion being that I wanted everyone in attendance to remember we're on a slide ruler here, people. We have a beginning (Point A) and an end (Point B). When Point B occurs is anyone's guess, so make the most of each and every day your allotted. It was never guaranteed, in the first place, so don't waste it!
Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hand
After rocking out, I wanted to do one more "coming together" moment, if you will. I know that "ice breakers", "connectors", or whatever you want to call them, have gotten beat down a bit, but hear me out. Whether you're an extrovert, introvert or a combo platter of the two, WE ARE a social species. Moreover, to truly learn and grow together, we have to get past the "surface" and truly see where each other is coming from and more importantly . . . trust one another.
Throughout the day, we all play a Breakout EDU game I’ve created for the occasion to earn tickets for some free swag at the culmination of our time together. This Breakout is based around movies that revolve around the notion of education and school.
Now that we’ve laid the foundation for our time together, we can get to work on whatever the key goals may be for the day. In this instance, the goal was to once again leverage existing and available technologies as a “tool” to enhance the educational process within the SAMR framework model.
Note: I made it very clear that NO technology is an end-all cure for thriving students, struggling students and/or educators. They are an application that, when used properly to enhance learning, can be wonderful. But, these technologies CANNOT and WILL NOT create an optimal learning environment on their own. This comes from the educator who has poured their heart and soul into developing RELATIONSHIPS with their students. When a student knows their teacher understands them, cares about them and truly wants the best for them, then (and only then) will true learning take place.
Part II - Flip
For our first technical application of the day, we focused on Flip (formerly known as FlipGrid, prior to being acquired by Microsoft). Flip is a video discussion application, free from Microsoft, where curious minds connect in safe, small groups to share videos, build community, and learn together. Regardless of your specific content area(s), the options for utilizing Flip as a learning tool are endless. If it can be written, shared, spoken, etc., it can find its place within a Flip.
Example 1 - Oogy
What is a fighting dog? What happens to them if they lose fights?
Answer development organizer
*this chapter's answer will be organized, written and explained with 5 Polyblox symbols.
Example 2 - Contraction Song
The Contraction Song (Tune: Mary had a little lamb)
1. I’m the first word, don’t change me!
Don’t change me, don’t change me.
I’m the first word, don’t change me!
Please just let me be
2. When you change the second word, Second word, second word, When you change the second word, A shorter word you’ll see.
3. Certain letters are taken out, Taken out, taken out. Certain letters are taken out. One word will remain.
4. Apostrophe will fill...
Example 3 - Gaming Walkthrough
Choose one of the gaming walkthroughs you created. Print out your walkthrough (to use as a script).
1. Use the green screen option to put my video (of the walkthrough you're sharing) as the background.
2. Read your walkthrough.
Example 4 - On the Scene
Your speech should cover information presented in your MM notebook. Be creative! Maybe add some background music of the band you've chosen to make it sound like you're actually there!
Throughout our time together, we take a couple minutes to physically/mentally rejuvenate. Body Boosters are some of my favorite, simple routines I’ve used in training for multiple Ironman events. No, I don’t have us go for a 3-mile swim (although that would be fun); we do simple exercises that ignite our Central Nervous System, allowing us to move forward and thrive throughout our day.
Part III - Adobe Express
For our second technical application of the day, we focused on Adobe Express (particularly the video maker option). As educators, we are creators wearing multiple hats and are often short on time, resources, etc. to make the content we envision, in our minds. We are looking for tools that help us easily make and share unique and beautiful content, including social media posts and stories, and marketing materials like logos, flyers, banners and more without complexity . . . enter Adobe Express.
Part IV - Book Creator
Our third focus application was Book Creator. Book Creator is a digital tool that enables students to create and read multimodal digital books. It is an ideal tool for enhancing student engagement through story creation and multimedia design. As an application, Book Creator is very easy to get up and running. Being an easy application to work with, if it can be written, communicated, etc., then it can be told in a book! The variety of classroom applications are vast.
Part V - AI
While not initially part of the day's plans, there was little doubt of an 'elephant' of sorts in the room. That 'elephant' was the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (and Chat GPT) within the collective consciousness of educators (and people in general) the world over. Therefore, my partner (and COO of New Horizons Global), Brad Waid and I shared some collective thoughts about this technical emergence.
What is the boogeyman? Theories and explanations certainly vary, but overall, boogeyman are a variety of fictional/folkloric monsters presented in stories to frighten children. Tales of the boogeyman have been used for quite some time, the world throughout, to motivate children to behave properly and to utilize caution in dangerous situations. The term, boogeyman, at times, is also used to describe any fearsome thing; and it is this second notion we'll be connecting to.
Part VI - Potpourri
For our final focus, I opened the doors wide open and challenged everyone to dream big. I shared some of my other favorite technical applications I've used (or am still using) with great success. This session was actually inspired by Atlassian Autonomy. The Australian software company Atlassian holds “FedEx Days” where engineers are expected to work on anything they want for 24 hours, then report back to the group. Many of their most lucrative ideas are born in these “overnight deliveries” of creativity.
Part VII - Wrap It Up
Before we ended our day together, it was time to hand out some swag! Those in attendance with the most tickets earned some prizes.
The BIG prize was a full year of premium content from one of my favorite technical applications: Classcraft. A huge shout out/thank you to the team at Classcraft for providing this! Truly appreciated. The winner was . . . Reagan Gray!
And that, my friends, was our second afternoon together! That is another day in the life of a Teach4Endurance developmental consultation. It’s not work . . . it’s a show to experience, to learn and enjoy; and I am so grateful for the new relationships I’ve cultivated during my two days in the beautiful, serene town of Westwood, Texas.