Kuwait, Professional Development

Staff meetings turned Edcamps

We have staff meetings every Tuesday after school. The middle and high schools alternate between department meetings & divisional meetings. The elementary has a divisional meeting every week. That’s a lot of meetings.

So Taryn (PYP coordinator) and Heidi (counselor) decided to be risk-takers. They organized Edcamps for the three weeks leading up to winter break. I was pretty excited for the opportunity to participate in something new to our school!

The first two weeks I hosted Mystery Skype sessions. I was pretty excited after the session with Andria’s 3rd graders. Paul & Marisa got up early so our teachers could try to figure out where they were located. Then we asked each other questions about where we live and shared ideas for using Skype in the classroom. I created a shared document so that anyone could add resources & ideas.

This week Abby and I faciliated a discussion about finding happiness in Kuwait. As we were talking I took notes about how and where people found things to do. We again shared the document so that anyone could add to the list we started. Our hope is to start a community approach to Instagram in order to easily share what’s happening. Unfortunately you can’t add hashtags to other people’s posts so we’ll have to keep brainstorming!

Image credit: Taryn

As I was sitting down to write this post about our elementary Edcamps, I realized that Taryn already wrote an awesome post! She does a great job of summing up the entire process. Check it out for more info 🙂 Heidi just wrote another great post about #AISQ8 Edcamps in the ES.

Inspired by our elementary, our middle and high schools will have a two Edcamp sessions during their February professional development day. We’re hoping that in April we can have a school-wide mini-Edcamp and then in late April or early May we can host an Edcamp at our school for Kuwait.

Collaboration, Kuwait

The sweet sound of student excitement

Today I participated in my first Mystery Skype. Awhile ago Alex was searching on Twitter for a class to Skype with. I contacted our 2nd & 3rd grade teachers and Andria was interested (love our COETAILers at AIS!). It took some logistical planning, but we made it work today!

It was awesome. You had to be there to feel & hear the energy of the students. I loved being a part of it. As I’ve mentioned before, this kind of thing is what makes me love teaching & education. Both groups of students were excited before they even started. They eagerly created Yes/No questions that would help them figure out where the other class was. As their questions were answered and they gathered information they had to quickly adjust their questions based on their knowledge. They were excited about inquiry without even really knowing it.

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Our students had Atlas books. They started with the world page (no countries labeled). Once they found out that the other class was in Africa they turned to the world page with countries labeled. As they asked questions about where in Africa, Andria & I helped them use their hands to cover up where we knew they weren’t (North, South, West). When they narrowed it down to the Horn, we showed them the page with only those countries. I wish I would have been taking video when one of our students asked if they were in Ethiopia and the response was yes – the entire class cheered. The only cheer bigger may have been when the other class figured out that we are in Kuwait!

What Andria thought about the experience: “My class and I enjoyed the mystery Skype session immensely! I cannot believe the amount of learning that went on in such short period of time. I definitely want to do it again.”

Both classes figured it out a lot faster than I thought they would which gave us time at the end to ask open-ended questions about the countries. I think our students’ favorite question was about the type of animals in Ethiopia. They were shocked that there are SO many exotic animals in the wild. I’ll have to share my pictures from Learning 2 with our students so they can see the ICS campus. Our principal visited the room right after we ended and was bummed to miss it. But the excitement of the students was still evident and they were able to relive their experience by telling him. Hopefully we can have more opportunities like this for our students in the near future. Our principal would like to share these kind of things with parents so that they are excited for global connections and technology in the classroom. I’d also like to experiment with giving the students access to Maps on their iPads while they are Skyping.

This was extra cool because Andria is from South Africa. The perfect first Mystery Skype – connecting to ‘home’! I learned that Kuwait is a really difficult location to find which makes us the perfect Mystery Skype partners 😉

Next week our elementary is doing an EdCamp during their division meeting. I’ve decided to facilitate a session on Mystery Skype. But what better way to help teachers understand it than to actually do it?! If anyone (teachers or classes) is interested in talking to us Tuesday, December 2 between 3 and 4pm GMT+3, PLEASE let me know! [It wouldn’t take the entire hour, probably just 3:25 to 3:45pm with the teachers.]