Confidence to Connect
Last Thursday, ten BHS Help Desk students attended the annual Mass CUE Conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. For most students, this was the first time they had ever attended an educational technology conference. Based on their reflections of the day (linked at the bottom of this post) as well as the plethora of selfies that were taken, it’s clear my students had an incredibly authentic learning experience. Best of all, they were able to connect with their peers from North Reading High School and Groton-Dunstable Regional High School. Seeing my students networking with other young professionals was one of the many highlights of the conference. Another highlight was meeting Kerry Gallagher. Kerry is a part of my PLN and the advisor of the Rockets Help Desk.
Kerry and I have been connected through Twitter for quite a while and we share a similar educational philosophy. We both run paperless classrooms and strive to integrate technology in ways that will allow students to be creative, collaborate, and connect globally. Beyond that, we are committed to providing our students with real-world learning opportunities; opportunities like attending the MassCUE conference and serving as presenters.
My first “face to face” meeting with Kerry and her students was via the student run demo slam held on October 16th. After we went off the air, Kerry and I talked about meeting up at MassCUE and making sure our students had the opportunity to connect face to face as well. We planned to meet in the “Tech Help” area on the Red Level East Wing of the stadium. The morning of the conference, as I made my way to the East Wing elevators, I heard some familiar voices, which turned out to be Julia and Megan, two of Kerry’s students who were in the demo slam. As I approached the girls, I could tell they instantly recognized me. A few steps behind them was Kerry. After a quick “in person” introduction (thanks to our Twitter connection it was like we already knew each other) we decided to gather the rest of our students for a group photo and then allow them time to socialize and network. Students discussed their programs, sent each other friend requests on Facebook, and talked about coming to visit BHS on November 20th. It was a tremendous confidence builder for students to meet other students who were interested in and passionate about technology. I’m hoping this was the first of many future in person and virtual collaborations not only with North Reading, but with other tech teams throughout Massachusetts and beyond. Several tech team instructors are currently talking about coordinating a student run Twitter chat and future demo slams. I also hope to connect our student tech teams at Edcamp Grafton on March 21st as well as the New England Student Showcase on April 10 & 11 (stay tuned for the link to register!).
Confidence to Create
Another major highlight of the conference was watching my student Mira Mehdi present about Augmented Reality in the Classroom. Not only did she present with confidence and poise, she handled all of the questions that were asked after the presentation and assisted our session attendees with the actual creation of an augmented reality experience. Almost every person in our session walked away having created an Aura with the app Aurasma. And the room was buzzing with creative ways AR could be integrated into the curriculum. It was an exceptionally proud moment to see my student leading an interactive session that took educators to the redefinition phase of the SAMR model. Here’s what Mira had to say about her experience as a MassCUE presenter:
“This week the Help Desk and I went to the MassCue 2014 conference in Foxborough, MA at Gillette Stadium. It was truly an amazing experience. The Help Desk students were the “Tech Help.” They sat in a designated area and were supposed to help people with any technology problems they may be having. However, I did something different. I was actually a presenter (as it said on my official name tag). I presented a session on augmented reality in the classroom. Like I said, it was truly an amazing experience.