Technology is HOT in Mumbai

Well, to be honest, everything was hot in Mumbai. And to be even more honest, I was sad to return to the land of boots and cableknit sweaters when it was all over.

The last few days of February, 18 other teachers from ISB and I were afforded (literally, by an anonymous parent-donor) the opportunity to travel to Mumbai for ASB Unplugged. This is a conference that is held every 2 years for international teachers who are interested in providing their students with more agency, autonomy, and opportunities for inquiry through various technology tools. Several months before, an email was sent out with a Google form for interested teachers to apply and write a personal statement of intent for the conference. I thought, “What the heck….” and filled the thing out. I was selected along with 4 other high school teachers (and 13 early childhood, elementary, and middle school teachers).

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Because we were traveling on donated funds, the school booked us on direct flights landing and taking off almost immediately before and after the conference. We arrived Wednesday night at 11:43pm and the conference started the next day at 7:45am. On Saturday, the conferenced ended by 4:30-5:00pm and we left the hotel at 11:00pm for our 2:20am flight back. Soo I learned the hard way that traveling for work is NOT sexy. People have been asking me about the sightseeing/shopping/eating I did in and around Mumbai and all I can tell them about is the 2 block radius I saw between the hotel and the school hosting the conference.

HOWEVER, the conference was awesome. The 3 days were each a little bit different which I, with my teacher-onset-ADD, appreciated. The first day, we had an opening event and then we were free to pop in and out of classes to observe how teachers and students were learning with technology. The second and third days were more traditional workshops but with an “unconference” on Friday afternoon. The unconference sessions allowed for more interaction and collaboration and I was even able to give a little demo on using Pollev.com for formative feedback in an ELD classroom.

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Technology I learned about:

Kahoot – everyone is obsessed with this quiz-game site. (*note: don’t use with dyslexic students! too stressful!)

mGuru English – a new app created by a student who has returned to India after studying at Stanford.

Project Based Learning – with a whole host of tech tools

Zaption/Nearpod/Peardeck – these are my babies now. You can make any youtube video or slideshow lesson interactive with questions (multiple choice, t/f, open ended), extra info, pictures, etc. Students can “raise their hand” or highlight important concepts and you get all the sneaky, behind-the-scenes feedback on what they’re doing on their screens.

drones – don’t even get me started! I wish I was a geography teacher!

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) – we’re already using this at ISB (docs, sheets, Hapara, sites, etc) but it never hurts to learn a bit more!

Turn It In – for peer editing. We use TII for plagiarism checking, but I was interested to see another use for it.

meme makers – students used these to highlight concepts in a social justice unit. We had a good laugh at their ideas.

Each night there were more activities and dinners hosted by ASB. The food was amazing (although no one took this white girl seriously when she said she wanted it spicy) and the company was fantastic. I feel like I really got to spend time with colleagues I rarely see – either because they are all the way across campus or because we work in the same building but are just super busy – and develop more professional relationships.

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I will admit, the highlight was the swanky pool at the hotel that we made a few mad-dashes back to to soak up some Vitamin D between workshop sessions. Only for a few minutes but after being in grey, wet, cold Brussels all winter, that was all we needed. My pal, Ashley, and I squeezed in a tiny bit of sightseeing to grab dinner at Candie’s in Bandra West on Saturday evening and grabbed a tower of Kingfisher beer at a nearby “western bar” called Toto’s Garage …. cue everyone staring at us EVEN more.

A great trip all in all, but I am definitely going to have to return to see more of Mumbai and the rest of India. Lucky for me, I’m married to guy who has some serious connections there so I’ll undoubtedly be phoning that in soon.