I attended the Erie 1 BOCES Ride the Digital Wave Conferene on Staff Development Day, March 30th.
The sessions I attended were as follows, along with some commentary and interesting pieces:
- Keynote by Dr. Ron Owsten, York Universtiy, Toronto. Dr. Owston spoke about how we need to rethink learning in the context that the students know more and are using technology tools in vastly different ways than the teachers. His thinking is right in line with many of the current leaders in Ed Tech – he referenced Marc Prensky many times in relation to how gaming can be used to capture the minds of students. I did not pick up new information in this session, but definitely reaffirmed where we need to be going in schools. The one quote that resonated with me from Dr. Owens was “We all need to be continuous learners.”
- Session 1: NOVEL Databases – this presentation was on a state initiative to provide access to a multitude of databases for all New York State Libraries, public or school. I was not familiar with this project in particular, but after digging a bit, our school librarians alreaday have a link to it in WITS. There are a lot of interesting things here, but with the myriad of other sources we have available, I’m not sure how much we would use this one.
- Session 2: Digital Video – Classroom Applications – this session alone was worth the price of admission. The presenter, Chad Skudlarek from Randolph, is a self-proclaimed tech-nothing 3 years ago. He was introduced to how video could be incorporated in the curriculum and how it totally transformed the engagement level of his students. He only does 2 video projects a year (which is plenty), but they are awesome. They even post the work on YouTube for the world to see/comment. However the final product is shared, I truly feel this is where we need to move learning – video engages students like nothing else, and they want to “do the content” to a high level. You need to keep the goal in mind, but this is a powerful medium. The videos from Randolph are on pig dissection, and as such can be unpleasant to watch, so I won’t link to them here. If you are interestd in seeing them, let me know.
- Session 3: Free Online Resources for K-12 Teachers – presented by Val Rinow from WNYRIC. For me this was mostly known sites (NYSED VLS, Thinkbright Video, Pics4Learning, Kidsclick!, NetSmartz). One new one, though that jumped out was Internet 4 Classrooms. Here I found some web resources for LOTE, including interactive websites that could be good w/a SMART Board/Airliner.
Overall I found this to be a very good day (oh, and lunch was good as always – BOCES does a nice job in this dept.). The sessions helped reaffirm, reflect and inform my daily practice.