Saturday, November 1, 2014

Rockets Help Desk Goes to #MassCUE2014

It may have been the rainiest nor'easter of the fall, but it couldn't stop the bright ideas of Rockets Help Desk at #MassCUE2014.
Rockets Help Desk at Gillette Stadium

This year's theme was "Confidence to Create" and it can be confidently stated that the high schoolers of Rockets Help Desk created connections that will be lasting in the coming weeks, months, and maybe even years.

Meet Up With Burlington High School Help Desk

After a couple of Google Hangouts, one of which was a Demo Slam, the Rockets had plenty of on screen face time with the help desk crew from Burlington, so they were excited to have the opportunity to finally meet face to face. The connections made between the students and the teachers will definitely be part of a lasting collaboration between the two schools.

Later in November, Rockets Help Desk plans to spend a day at Burlington High School to get ideas on how to expand our program.  Although Burlington has a 1:1 iPad set-up and Reading is BYOD, we have similar philosophies around giving students experiences as professional tech coaches.  Networking with each other at MassCUE is certainly an example of an authentic experience.

Connection With the Pros

Rockets Help Desk students were thrilled to attend conference workshops presented by people with real experience integrating tech, or even creating tech that makes it possible for students to learn in new ways.

Their favorite session was with Reshan Richards, creator of Explain Everything.  The students were trying all of the features he demoed and whispering about how they might use it in their classes.  They couldn't help but walk to the front of the presentation suite room and introduce themselves.  We've already schedules a Hangout on Air to talk with Mr. Richards in more detail about his philosophy behind the creating of Explain Everything.

Collaborating With Educators

The real reason Rockets Help Desk attended MassCUE was to present about how and why teachers should consider a paperless classroom.  They worked with teachers from throughout Reading School District earlier in the week, but this time the audience included educators from all over the state of Massachusetts.

First, the educators and student chatted via backchannel while the presentation was happening.

The backchannel, TodaysMeet, proved to be extremely useful during our presentation. Thanks to that, many attendees got their questions answered and we also got out more information to more people than we put in our presentation. We could share our opinions on it too.  Attendees asked us how we felt about certain apps, methods, and even activities in order to understand students better.
-Melanie L.

Then students found great satisfaction from talking with teachers face to face during the break out workshops about how they learn.

In school, teachers try to emphasize the importance of collaboration with people who have different perspectives, yet we only ever collaborate with our peers.  Teachers as well usually only collaborate with other teachers.  Allowing us as students to attend MassCUE gave us a chance to work with adults.  I felt that we were all able to gain valuable insights about each others' perspectives and challenges when integrating technology in the classroom.
-Tessa S.

The whole experience was much more than the students or I ever expected.  We know we would be presenting and had prepared for that part, but the connections and professional relationships that were started will undoubtedly continue to grow in the weeks and months to come.

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