My first official day at ISTE 2014 started with a session on education gaming. I really want to like gaming in the classroom but the research so far says it engages students but really does nothing for achievement. So I hoped this session would give me hope. We reviewed Changegamer.ca, a site with cloud-based site of various educational games students can play with lesson plans and activities teachers can use. While the site did have some games that could be used in lesson plans, they will not provide tangible evidence of student achievement gaming needs to become widespread in education.
After my time with gaming, I attended a session about using newspapers to study World War I. We looked at a site that aggregated newspapers chronicling major events of World War I. This session reminded me teachers need to use primary resources whenever possible and practical because they can give students a perspective on historical events they well never get in a textbook. The session also described National History Day and how important for students to engage in this activity designed to get students to engage in real historical research and share their finding in creative ways.
The last two sessions were the most thought provoking sessions I have ever attended. Both sessions centered around educational research. The first was a presentation highlighting a dissertation about the role of social media in professional development. The discussions talked about how more teachers need to build personal learning communities so they can access professional development to meet the unique needs of individual teachers. The discussion then went to how can teacher participation in social media for professional development purposes can count for professional development credit. It was a fascinating session. The last session was a discussion about educational research. Some of the things is teachers need more access to research because reading it does help teachers become better in the classroom. There was also another discussion about the need to conduct research so teachers can gain better insight into what is going on in their classes. Finally, the thought of showing students how real researchers do their research and write their papers might connect what students are doing in class to the real world.
If the rest of ISTE 2014 is this challenging then the next two days should be awesome!