This was my first experience with K12 Online Conference, and overall, I found it to be valuable. The convenience of such professional development is great! I like that you can pick what is most relevant or interesting to you, and then if it doesn’t turn out to be what you wanted or expected, all you have to do is close the window instead of feeling your time has been wasted. Also, instead of only getting professional development a couple times a year when it is required, here is an opportunity to partake whenever you need new ideas, motivation, or reassurance. Lastly, I appreciate the formatting of this online PD. The categories and color coding making choosing a session right for you easier. And you can easily connect with the speaker or join discussion on the given topic.
I viewed two sessions. The first was called Speak Up! Transforming Classroom Discussions. I chose this particular session because I try to make class discussion a focal part of my English classes, and I was hoping this talk would give some new or different strategies for doing so. Though I did not get exactly what I was looking for, the speaker did offer some very interesting research that showed the value of virtual communication over face-to-face communication. This was helpful to me because nearly all the discussion in my classroom is face-to-face, so I now see the need to incorporate more opportunities for virtual communication because it gets more students involved and creates a more comfortable and “free” environment. The speaker’s research and studies found that with virtual communication participation increased AND quality of participation increased, females were more involved, there was higher frequency of on-topic discussion, and it caused students to re-read/re-think what they were saying, which led to more effective communication. Along with this, the speaker highlighted the idea that introversion is not a negative quality and extroversion is not the ideal–a great thing to remember and to try to counteract!
The second session I viewed was called The World is My Classrooom. I chose this one mostly because the speaker is a teacher who uses global collaboration at a very small, rural school in Australia, seemingly similar to where I teacher (minus the Australia part). I figure if it can work at a school of 250 P-12, then it can work at my school. The teacher explained the different forms of global collaboration they use (connecting with other classrooms in Japan and Malaysia, as well as with a writer in New York, and other educators and experts). She explained the kinds of collaboration they partake in, learning about other cultures, learning how to communicate effectively, sharing ideas, and getting and giving feedback on projects. She also shared the mediums they use to do so, such as Google Docs and Blackboard Collaborate. She offered strategies to use when implementing global collaboration with students and with in and out of classroom management and offered suggestions of how to begin such collaboration, as well as the challenges that one will face when embarking on such a project. While it is difficult, this particular classroom/school shows that such partnerships are possible and that they are extremely valuable. However, at this school, students from grade 5 have personal netbooks, an element that is not possible at all schools. Though it will take much work, this can be a reality at any school. I think the hardest part is getting started but the rewards are plenty.