Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Leperchaun Catcher

One of my students shared her Google Draw creation with me this morning. She created The Leprechaun Catcher. With her permission, I showed the class what she made in order to talk about and model how to provide constructive feedback. What happened next was a delight for me and an eye opening experience for them.

As I spoke to them about providing constructive feedback, one of the students made a comment about the likelihood that something like this would ever work, let alone be made. Another student responded by saying that people probably made the same comments about Google Glass but it exists and that they got to try them out and think about all the positive things it could be used for. Another student commented about self-driving cars and that they exist.

This led to a great discussion about creativity, imagination, risk taking, making mistakes, and how normal it is to fail and then try again. One of the students connected this discussion to my mantra about the importance of failure - that great learning can come from the challenges we encounter when we work towards finding solutions to problems we are faced with.

This discussion seemed to reach my students and I believe it is because they had a great example in front of them that came from their peer and not from me. It's almost like the Leprechaun Catcher gives them permission to take their thoughts and ideas to another level, one that allows them to move forward with what they envision their future to look like. 

They Leprechaun Catcher seems like a silly idea at first, but no more sillier than wearing a computer on your head that is now known as Google Glass. They got the point and now I am looking forward to the wonderful ideas they have for their future.

Have you had a similar experience? What do you do to foster/support the creative flow in your students? I would love to hear your thoughts about my experience today.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Future is here: Google Glass

Tom speaking to my students about Google Glass.
My students got to see and try Google Glass earlier this week. Tom Emrich, a Glass Explorer in Toronto, visited our classroom and introduced my students and I to Glass. Google Glass is "wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that is being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project" (http://goo.gl/fRqQK). The experience was simply fantastic. The students were on the edge of their seats the entire presentation! Tom's talk was engaging and developmentally appropriate - so much so that my Principal, +Rodney Eckert, wondered whether Tom had any formal teacher training. 

Tom explained what Glass is and the ins and outs of the device. He touched upon the benefits of Glass and how he thinks wearable technology is part of our lives at this time and the role it will play in the future.

After his talk and demonstrations he allowed each student to try on the Glass and test it out. Some students told Glass to take a photo and some told Glass to take video. Nevertheless, their reactions seemed to be the same each time - amazement at what they could do with simple voice commands and the ability to wear a computer.

Google Glass.
One after the other, the look on their faces when they activated the device was priceless. It was amazing to see them engage with a technology that they had read about and watched on YouTube. 

Prior to this experience, Google Glass was viewed as something beyond their reach, something that they would not get to see or interact with any time soon. Their interest and fascination with Glass and 'futuristic' technology is what motivated me to connect with Tom over Twitter. In fact, the tweet was made with my students in an effort to demonstrate how connected and accessible our society has become.

Tweet to and from Tom Emrich.
Tom was more than happy to work out a plan to visit us and I can't thank him enough for the service and modelling he has provided my students. With his help and expertise my students have seen that anything is possible and that the only limits placed upon their dreams and imaginations are the ones they place on themselves. 

My students have been stretching themselves and transforming the way they learn this year. The Blended Learning model, GAFE, and the Chromebooks have led them on a trajectory where creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking are welcome and have become the norm. 

I too have been experiencing the same thing with my teaching and my professional learning. As Tom spoke to my students I thought about the uses Glass would have in my classroom. I thought about how students could use them and how I could use them. Although the possibilities are endless, let me share some of my thinking with you.

In the hands of students, I can visualize Glass capturing what they see, say, and how they interact with each other as they go about their daily learning. Imagine being able to view and hear what a student experiences as they work on tasks assigned to them. Not only would we be privy to such data but the student would benefit from it as well. Think of the reflection that they could experience by watching and hearing themselves as they process a problem or situation that had been captured via Glass.

Trying on Glass.
From a teacher's perspective, Glass could also provide many benefits. With Glass I too could capture audio and video of student learning - assessment for learning. I could provide my assessments to parents instantly via email giving them information on what I see and suggestions for next steps at home for remediation or enrichment. The ability to connect with parents/colleagues using a 'hangout' (like Skype) would be a valuable tool to capture/show real time learning as I move around the room supporting students. I can also see how Glass would free up my hands as I multi task in the room. I can imagine taking audio notes and things of that nature as I go about the every day multi tasking in the classroom.

If I can come up with ways to leverage this technology in my classroom within a matter of minutes I am certain that more time and networking would produce creative and practical uses for Glass in schools. 

Have you experienced Google Glass? Do you have any ideas about how Glass could be used in a classroom to benefit students and teachers? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to contact me me via email, Twitter, Google +, or by leaving a comment for me here.