Monday, February 28, 2011

Dublin Literacy Conference

Last Saturday was the Dublin Literacy Conference.  Around 600 teachers from Ohio and the neighboring states came to Dublin, Ohio to learn about literacy and hear speakers cover different topics related to literacy.  I have been involved in the conference for many years, providing technology support for the presenters.  It has been a very rewarding experience, allowing me to meet many wonderful people and hear many moving speeches.  This year was no different.  Actually, this may be one of the best conferences in many years.

One thing that was different this year, for me, was that I was one of the presenters.  I was given the opportunity to share information about Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers.  My presentation focused on tools that teachers could use personally to build their professional learning network.  I shared information about Twitter, Google Applications, Flickr, Diigo, Shelfari, and Blogspot - or at least that was my plan.  I was able to share quite a bit about Twitter and Google, but found myself time-restricted in the introduction of the other topics.  I figured that was what would happen.

I have arranged my blog to include pages that would allow the attendees to go back to my blog and see my presentation, a slide share, as well as other Web 2.0 Resources, which contain Diigo bookmarks that update whenever I add new bookmarks.  Teachers seemed to be receptive to the information, even if they were not current users.  I tried to give examples of how they could use these tools, both personally and with students.  Check out the slideshow and links.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Poll Everywhere - Data Collection

I recently signed up for an account with Poll Everywhere, so I could see if it provided data feedback that could be easily accessed and set up.  I am going to give it a try with a poll at a presentation I am conducting this weekend.  Poll Everywhere is easy to setup, and provides the audience with three ways to send in their response.  Audience members can send their choice by text message, by tweeting to an account, or by accessing a website.  Because of it's flexibility, it should be easy and convenient for audience members to find a way to reply to the questions.

Poll Everywhere compiles the data live, so you can see the responses come in.  You can do multiple choice questions, T/F questions, or open-ended questions.  With upgrades to your account, you can even mediate the responses before they are displayed on the screen.  I think it will be interesting to see which online tools my attendees use most frequently - it will allow me to adjust how much time I spend on each tool.  It would be a nice way for teachers to obtain data from students, to help guide where more instruction is needed.

Poll Everywhere also provides educators with extra benefits, as well as discounted pay accounts.  They have K-12 accounts, Higher Ed accounts, as well as whole-school and district accounts.  Each provides added controls and features, but I am trying the free teacher account.  I can poll 32 people (which should more than cover my session - unless people read this and come see how it goes).

I'll write back later to share my thoughts and results.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EDUCON 2.3 - A Couple Days Removed

I can't believe the weekend is over.  Luckily, we had great flights to and from Philadelphia.  Some of our friends didn't and had to spend nights and days in layovers and cancelled flights just to get there or get back home.  I do feel lucky about our travel.  I had so looked forward to the conference, because I had heard so many great things.  I knew a lot of people that would be there (because Twitter makes you feel like you are their friends), and had read a lot about past conferences.  I was ready.

After the first couple sessions, I was blown away.  Here we are at sessions, hoping to learn a few things about different topics, and we are right in the middle of conversations with people about the topics.  This conference wasn't like most.  We were there to have conversations, to share ideas, not only with the presenters, but also with the people sitting around us.  It was incredible.  The audience was filled with so many smart and insightful people, all willing to share their experiences and ideas.  All thinking about ways to improve the experiences of students - and not focusing on test scores.  Innovation - how can we do things differently to create outstanding, authentic learning experiences for our students?  How can we help students become passionate about their futures?  How do we create an environment in which students can fail, then learn from their experiences, so they can react to new situations and find success?

Sessions were held that covered many topics, presented by outstanding educators.  Discussions between outstanding educators and non-educators provided insights as to how we can alter what we do to help all students succeed.  We need to work to create environments where we can model skills that students need, providing mentorships and connections that will provide them support into the future.  Helping make connections was one of the many thoughts I came away with.  How do we make connections with people to help support growth?

Making connections was one of the things that I found so energizing about EDUCON.  I was able to re-connect with some people that I had previously met.  I had the opportunity to meet people that have influenced my growth over the past year.  I was able to meet them face-to-face, rather than just communicating through Twitter and email.  I think those contacts are so helpful.  I was also able to make a couple new friends.  Technology will allow us to continue to communicate easily.  It is amazing how easy sharing thoughts and experiences is now that Twitter and blogging have become so popular.  I hope that I can convince my colleagues of the importance of connecting with people in their areas of interest, learning and sharing with people with common goals and hopes.  We need to support each other and grow together as we try to help our schools become better places for learning.

I'd like to give a special thanks to some of the people that I met and learned from.  Theses are truly amazing people.  You should follow them, to see for yourself.

Dean Shareski (@shareski)
Alec Couros (@courosa)
George Couros (@gcouros)
Patrick Larkin (@bhsprincipal)
Chuck Poole (@cpoole27)
Chris Craft (@crafty184)
Michael Wacker (@mwacker)
Troy Hicks (@hickstro)
Sara Beauchamp-Hicks (@yoopertechgeek)
Bill Fitgerald (@funnymonkey)
Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep)
Leslie Davison (@lesliedavison)
Cindy Minnich (@CBethM)

These people, along with many others, shared of their time and knowledge so that many others can grow and learn.  It is truly fantastic that all of you are willing to give so much back to the profession.  Chris Lehmann and the students of Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy should be so proud of the event they put together last weekend.