Monday, March 2, 2015

Emints Presentation Opportunity

    I just returned from the Emints National Conference over the weekend in Columbia, Missouri.  Over the next few weeks, I hope to post about the many wonderful learning opportunties the conference presented and the possibilities they opened up for the future of Lakeside Junior High and the LJHS Library.

    The conference was one of firsts.  It was the first time I had been to the Emints National Conference, and also the first time I had the chance to copresent with my colleagues at such an event.  I collaborated with Chrystal Lieutard, one of our ESOL teachers, and Evelyn Villarreal, one of our math teachers on the topic of Using Graphics to Tell a Story: Visual Literacy Techniques for the presentation.  This was also my first experience with using a back channel for participants to communicate with us.  I used Today's Meet and checked it on my Ipad throughout the session. It provided us with some good feedback about the session in the early part of the presentation, although it was not used as frequently as the session went along.  I would like to use it with greater effect in future presentations.

    One of our goals of the session was to give the participants lots of opportunities to see and experience technologies and strategies which support the goal of improved visual literacy instruction. We opened the session with a Padlet asking teachers to post the first thing that came to mind when they thought of visual literacy.  The session also included a review of current research on visual literacy including the differences in decoding and encoding skills among elementary and secondary learners-younger students tend to look at a visual section by section while older learners tend to interpret images as a whole.  My colleagues and I shared a variety of strategies and apps to support visual literacy including Piclits, Szoter, and Easel.ly.

    One of the best parts of the presentation was the work samples my colleagues brought with them which were on display on tables and around the room.  Ms. Lieutard brought along some of her visuals she uses to build vocabulary with ELLs. For the activity, students add "the first word that comes to mind" to each image as a means to develop context for their comprehension of terms such as the Great Depression.   Mrs. Villarreal brought along several anchor charts and shared a great activity related to piecing togeher the Pythagorean Theorem. (To view these and other visual literacy activies and apps, visit the website I constructed for the session: https://sites.google.com/a/sdale.org/visual-literacy-resources/)

    We also had a number of truly amazing visual literacy ideas shared with us from other teachers in our building.   Among them were Justin Hart's amazing diction chart which was constructed out of paint chips. For this activity, more bland vocabulary words such as nice, good, happy and sad were featured on lighter colors.  As students improved their diction, darker paint chips were added with more descriptive vocabulary. For example, underneath sad, you would find paint chips labeled with terms such as forlorn and distraught.
    Another tremendous example of encoding was a slide show Shane Carey sent along that his ninth graders had created showing examples of how atomic theory has changed over the centuries constructed out of M & M candies.  For the assignment, students had to learn about the different ideas about what an atom looked like, construct a model of it using M&Ms, take pictures using their Chromebook cameras, construct a Google Slide presentation and share them with their classmates.

   Overall, my first experience presenting at a national conference was a great one.  It would be great to be back at the Emints National Conference next year. I look forward to the next time I get the privilege to attend and present at a conference again soon!

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