Conference Preview TCEA 2022
Everything's bigger in Texas right? Well, their Ed Tecch conference is no exception. TCEA is around the corner, and it’s always one of the biggest and best conferences out there. They bring in a multitude of national level presenters and the great local ones are bountiful too. I have the privilege of being part one again, and I am delivering 6 sessions that I would love to see my Texas friends at!
Those 6 sessions are
As you look at coding tools, you need to look for diversity and inclusion. It needs to match both the student and the student's level of learning. Students need to be able to see themselves in the characters and stories that they can tell. It also needs to have the tools necessary to adapt to any learning challenge a student might have. Let’s look at how you might be able to get there.
The first thing to look at is the diversity of characters. Many coding platforms will go with characters that don’t have genders or skin tones to avoid this, but if you can find one that leans into diversity, it should stand out a bit more. Look for one that has a variety of skin tones, various genders, non-gendered characters, and even the ability for students to make characters look like themselves. It’s always fun to code with real people, and it gives you the option to use coding in specific school content. Just make sure you do it with characters that bring out the best in all students.
As we look at diversity and inclusion, you also have to look at how you can make learning work for every student. You have to be able to personalize student interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Just imagine that one student may be a bit ahead of the others. How do you teach to that?
To personalize their coding content, I would look for two things in a coding platform: personalized assignments and the ceiling. The first is easy. Can you assign different content to different students in the same class? Look for things like the ability to assign a Python project to one student in a class while the others get a block project. That will tell you about personalization quickly.
The ceiling is also so important. How many different things can kids create, and in how many other formats? Having a low ceiling means the options for students who need a more personalized approach are minimal. Having a high ceiling makes that personalized approach limitless as you can tweak content for the student, and they can create what fits them.
Looking at inclusion can also mean other tools. Can the coding resource use another language like Spanish? Does it have a voiceover? If it doesn’t, can you add it? Anything that a student needs to engage at their level should be able to be there.
In conclusion, diversity and inclusivity comes down to how things are presented and can you make every student feel welcome. While coding tools are still progressing to this goal, you can still make it a point to look for diversity and inclusion needs. Students deserve it!
FETC Conference Preview
Can this week go by faster? It’s that time of year again to go to my FAVORITE conference, and I can’t wait to get there. FETC is coming soon!
I love FETC because it’s a great conference, but it’s also the place where I am most likely to get to hang out with my Ed Tech friends. Over the years Florida has been like a second home to me, and I deeply missed this conference last year.
This conference is just pure fun, but it also is one of my favorites content-wise. FETC does an amazing job every year of bringing an awesome mix of both national level, next level, and local presenters to the conference. You can get all kinds of perspectives. I think the best thing is that you get really good presenters who are trying to make their name and want to give the most thoughtful learning experience.
I was a little nervous about getting into FETC but I have three full sessions including 2 workshops! They include:
I have neglected to write the “COVID” post for months because I wasn’t on the frontlines in the classroom. I work from home, so most days, I am safe in the cocoon of my home office. I am not day in and day out instituting Covid protocols. I am not telling kids to “wash their hands” or “pull up their masks.” I do not have to navigate virtual learning because Omicron has spread so rapidly. I also did not want to wade into the politics in this blog, but I think it’s time to. I think it’s time we find that happy medium that we have been missing. Let me lay out what I mean.
Before I get started, though, let’s get one thing very clear. I genuinely believe you need to protect yourself and your family in the way you see fit. If you live with someone immunocompromised, elderly, or more susceptible, this post doesn’t apply to you. You need to do everything possible to make sure those folks are okay physically and mentally. Who cares what everyone else says, and protecting your loved ones is paramount.
This post applies to everyone else. I think I have come to a place where there is a happy medium we will have to live with, and we need to start moving that way. COVID isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay, and we have to find that line we can live with it which means don’t be too far to either side.
Let’s start with what seems like the simplest way to protect ourselves, and it’s the vaccine. I know that taking the vaccine is a personal choice, but I know for my family and me, all the data points to it being effective (no vaccine is 100%) and safe. Data from multiple hospitals proves that it limits the likely hood you can become infected, and if you do, it dramatically limits the symptoms. I would think most teachers would believe this data (it’s in our nature to believe science), but I know some don’t. I also think most teachers are looking for any way to protect themselves because they know things spread easily in schools and don’t want students bringing it home to people who are more likely to have severe complications. If you are one of those that don’t believe in the vaccine, I have to ask you for a straightforward thing.
Make that choice personal, not verbal. It pushes you more to that happy medium because you aren’t trying others to make a choice that they could possibly regret. How we vaccinate and who we vaccinate can be that personal choice, but we don’t have to hate others who believe something different. As someone who is vaccinated, I also think we need to stop pressure campaigns. We are to a point where those that aren’t are dug in, and constant peer pressure won’t help. It still needs to be that personal choice.
With everything else, I think the key is that happy medium. Both us as individuals and schools need to be smart but not strict. For example, kids who can go to school can go without masks, especially in schools with students of vaccination age. It doesn’t mean, though, that people need to stand right next to each other in a closed space or sit right next to another student at lunch (1 seat away won’t hurt someone). We should be able to go into a store without a mask and stay away from folks. However, we likely need to wear a mask on a plane where we are in a closed tube for a long time, sitting right next to a stranger. It really can be a smarter, not harder, approach.
To bring it home, I think I actually live in a fascinating area with the politics related to schools and the coronavirus. Parents, teachers, and schools do not just use a hands-off approach to COVID, but they are also aren’t going to go off the deep end and have virtual learning for months on in. You can see inadequate approaches. A great example was at my son’s school when they sent him home from a close contact. When he returned, they asked him to wear a mask, but they sat him right next to another student at lunch. To me, that’s the place where things can pass the easiest, so they could have put some space there. They did it all last year successfully (my kids were back in October of 2020), but why could they not do it now? I have also seen the good through my youngest daughter’s school. They ask for masks, but only when the kids are right next to each other. Seems pretty sensible to me.
Throughout all of this, we just need to go with a level of understanding and kindness. People have different opinions and want to see other things in their community, yet there is such a level of hatred for people that believe different things permeate this country that the extremes come out. If we all would just remember that happy medium is what matters, we would be much better off. We could live our lives while also not doing things like overwhelming our schools, teachers, and even health care facilities. We need to do better, and it all starts with respecting each other.