The annual pilgrimage to TechForum, IL

Each spring for the past number of years I have travelled to Illinois for the annual TechLearning conference. (The first one I went to was in SanDiego – it was beautiful there, though the Eaglewood Resort is nice also.)

Today looks like it will be the keynote by Max Megee, the President of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy® (IMSA). He is going to discuss what leaders at all levels can and must do to assure colleagues and communities have the necessary resources to provide students with the knowledge, skills and disposition needed to compete and collaborate in their professional lives.

After the keynote, the plan is:  Google Apps and Other Ventures in the Cloud,” the always before lunch industry spotlight session, leading a roundtable on Google Apps & Wikis in the classroom, and then not sure what.  Blog posts for each will appear throughout the day.  Happy Friday! 🙂

Breakout session: Podcasting

Find an untold story in your community/connected to your community in some way to add depth and interest. Our students tell their own stories all too often; engage them in the stories of others and help them on their way to maturity.

Find a new audience for your podcasts. Parents are usual. In this example (on Japanese Friendship Dolls), the script had to be approved by the curator of the Milwaukee Public Museum. (check podcasts) &
(sample podcast projects)

Idea: What are the backgrounds of the memorials in your area? How to honor veterans? (join in a national collaborative project -he’s waiting for more people to join in – create a project to honor our nation’s veterans). Possibility: Take some pictures of local veterans’ memorials, turn them into a movie, post it to YouTube, and post it to the wiki. Challenge: create a project in your community that connects students and veterans. Create the project online then post a link to the wiki.

Podcasting turns students into historians, brings primary sources to life, and fosters a sense of maturity.

Tool recommended in this session for podcasting with phone: Gabcast –

Video tools recommended in this session for podcasting:GarageBand & iPhoto (MAC) MovieMaker (PC)  Audacity (Mac or PC)

Interesting. They have a tech-ed class for 6th graders. Hmm…the constraints of 42 minute class periods are making my spirit of creativity feel overly limited…

Friday in Chicago

The annual pilgrimage to Chicago for Tech&Learning’s Midwest TechForum. Thankfully the plane arrived on time, the drive to the hotel was uneventful, and the morning is underway. The first speaker, Clarence Fisher, was truly inspiring. A middle school teacher hailing from Snow Lake in Manitoba, he challenged the audience to shift from the traditional view of a classroom to what our students need classrooms to be today and moving forward. Points which stood out:

  • We need to get away from thinking about classrooms the way they have always been
  • Inspiration and pedagogy should be synonyms (thought: how does standardized testing and data-driven lesson planning fit in with that?)
  • The classroom should be seen as a studio
  • Our students need to get comfortable with the idea that learning/information is/can be messy.
  • Creativity is a national resource (thought: what are we really doing to foster that?)
  • We need to use technology to engage and connect our students with the world. Find the way around the “no go” zones.
  • If schools don’t change the way they offer education, schools will become sideshows. Students will attend and jump through the necessary hoops, but will get all of the information they need via the Internet.

A great keynote. Always good to take some time to reflect on where we need to go.

p.s. Listening to Clarence’s stories, I felt a tug at my heart, I really enjoyed teaching 7th graders. Not sure if I could do it now, but I sure loved it then.