Over the past few days I have been able to watch and participate in three different video conferences sponsored by the Global Education Conference. The conferences I was able to digitally attend where, Brining the World to your Classroom, by Connie Rensink, Master Project-Based Learning in 5 Simple Steps, by Kyle Wagner, and lastly, American Literature and History as a Springboard into Global Social Issues, social Issues, by Ryan Smith
One of the most interesting aspects of all three conferences, was the idea of inquiry-based learning. Even if the statement of purpose was not explicitly stated an inquiry-based methodology, all three shared the same general idea that implementing the inquiry model can have a very strong impact on student engagement with the material, and academic success in your classroom.
Connie Rensink’s conference on, Brining the World to your Classroom, was an interesting look at how teachers can really teach the importance of perspective when teaching both global and domestic issues. An interesting activity Ms. Rensink provided was the use of a Johari Window to help illustrate and examine perspective. Moving clockwise starting with the top left square, the different boxes that students would fill in are: (1) Known self (things we know about ourselves and others know about us), (2) Hidden self (things we know about ourselves and that others do not know, (3) Blind self (things others know about us that we do not know, and lastly (4) Unknown self (things neither we nor others know about us). Now obviously, students cannot answer the fourth box, but when a student completes the other three boxes, and knows what criteria would go in the fourth box, I think it really would do a great job of illustrating how people can look at a single person in so many different ways. I also enjoyed how Ms. Rensink included links or places to look for many different types of readings to use in our classes (ex. Fiction and non-fiction texts). Though she did cover a few more different aspects, the real big push behind all of the different activities she shared and resource lists all moved the students about taking an interest about a particular topic, researching it, examining perspectives, motives, outcomes… is how to better create student engagement with the material, and one significant way she was able to do this was by bringing in topics and perspectives from around the world.
Kyle Wagner’s entire presentation centered around Project-Based Learning (PBL), and 5 Simple Steps we could implement in our rooms to create high-functioning PBL activities. Mr. Wagner is a Project-Based Learning coach at the International School of Beijing. Throughout Mr. Wagner’s presentation, he did a really great job of outlining the 5 main steps involved, but even more importantly, gave very strong concrete examples of what the steps actually look like for you and the students. The five steps of creating a strong PBL are: (1) Engaging Topic, (2) Find Collaborators, (3) Create Driving Questions, (4) Envision Final Project, and lastly (5) Align with content. Not to get bogged down in the more inter-working details of this strategy, so much of it was centered around that less is more, and that a simple topic can and typically will beget a complex response. By tapping into student choice and interest, engagement in the project and in the class as a whole will increase.
The last presenter I was able to watch was Ryan Smith and, American Literature and History as a Springboard into Global Social Issues. Much like the previous two presenters, Mr. Smith was quick to point out and continuously hammer back to the idea of inquiry-based learning and how student choice with the material and project can truly make the world of difference, Mr. Smith and his co-worker were able to tie together books to modern day issues. For example, The Great Gatsby, is used to help lead a larger discussion of global economic inequality, and Huckleberry Finn is being used to show the perils of modern-day child labor and protection. Again, so much tied back to that central idea of the inquiry model and how if students are motivated to choose a topic that is meaningful to them and they are allowed to research the issue, the viewpoints, and the implications, engagement and interest in your subject will greatly increase.
All in all, the conference was one that I found to be very interesting and had a lot of different topics to choose from. People were presenting and watching from literally all across the world. Being able to tie in digitally and ‘be in a room’ with someone from India, New Zealand, and Brazil, and learn new strategies is a great benefit technology has given us.
Rensink, Connie (2016). Bringing the World to your Classroom. Global Education Conference. https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/recording/playback/link/table/dropin?sid=2008350&suid=D.F2B6635F55897C5733EEEE442B961E
Smith, Ryan (2016) American Literature and History as a Springboard into Global social issues. Global Education Conference. https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/recording/playback/link/table/dropin?sid=2008350&suid=D.DA917C3A328B52E3A450EEFD31D008
Wagner, Kyle (2016). Master Project-Based Learning in 5 Simple Steps. Global Education Conference.https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/recording/playback/link/table/dropin?sid=2008350&suid=D.65FF43CA6152FA36192A9EF0106DA3