Wednesday, April 1, 2015

AAIM Reflection(s)

    It is hard to know where to begin the discussion of the highlights from this year's Arkansas Association of Instructional Media conference:

   There was connecting with friends old and new at meals and in between sessions.

   There was getting to meet and talk writing with author/hero Jordan Sonnenblick.  I am excited to read his upcoming novels which will be released in 2016 and 2017.

    There was the 4 mile run I got to take Monday morning up to the top of Hot Springs Mountain as the sun was peaking around the hills.  The view was breathtaking-a great way to start the day at a tremendous conference!

   There was getting to see practical do-it yourself projects and makerspace ideas in action from Tonia McMillan.  She had the projects ready for us to try out at each table!  Leaving that session I feel much more prepared to launch Lakeside's makerspace next fall.

   There was getting to co lead a session with Stony Evans, the Media Specialist at Lakeside Hot Springs High School about our Lakeside Squared Hangout program.  We were able to share about the power of connecting students through Google Hangouts across geographical boundaries through this ongoing program.

   One of the key questions that emerged from our session was: "what if?".  As in, what if we connected the musical programs at our two schools over Hangouts to broaden the audience for their music?  What if we used Hangouts to broaden our students appreciation of literature and banned books by holding a virtual readout?  What if we collaborated to share our enjoyment of Divergent by holding a virtual meeting of our book clubs about that novel?  What if there were no limit to the educational possibilities of Google Hangouts for our students?

   I look forward to the future possibilities of ongoing Lakeside Squared Hangouts as plans for events with our foriegn language classses around next fall's Day of the Dead take shape.  Stony and I are also discussing plans to hold Hangouts on Air.  Hangouts on Air allow users to record Hangouts to share with other classes/schools that were not participants at the time of the original Hangout.  Using the Hangouts on Air platform will help to overcome the challenges of matching our school's bell schedules and will help Hangouts reach more of our students.

   During the session, we also promoted our new Google + community the Google Arkansas Networking Group. (G.A.N.G.)  It is our hope that through this G+ community we will be able to expand the Lakeside Squared Google Hangouts concept to include more schools and students throughout our state and the world.  The response at the session was very positive as we have already added about a dozen members to the G.A.N.G.

   Even since the session, I have been contacted by some elementary librarians who are interested in trying Google Hangouts.  Tomorrow, we are meeting for our first practice Hangout.  In the coming weeks, we will be holding literacy Hangouts where junior high students at Lakeside will read picture books to their elementary peers.  I cannot wait to see the learning opportunities that will unfold as we continue to build this community!

   Join the Google Arkansas Networking Group (G.A.N.G) today!

   Stay tuned!