Thursday, June 28, 2007

Amazed at Atlanta!

I've just returned from the very friendly city of Atlanta attending the NECC 2007 Conference for my self-funded PD adventure. Air Canada was great as usual and the accommodations were not exactly posh, but it was the experience that was FABULOUS!

The highlights of the conference were:
I couldn't believe it when I bumped into a friend of a friend here in Guelph, Maria Knee, from NH. Maria and a friend Tracy back home have been skyping with their kindergarten classes and I have been assisting this effort a wee bit by trying to get a webcam for Tracy's class. We couldn't believe our luck at running into each other at Resnick's session! Birds of a Feather flock together! That's Maria and I checking our Microworlds Jr at the LCSI booth.

Another highlight was the amazing Fondue dinner at Dante's Down the Hatch in Buckhead. I'm not at liberty to add many details here since it is classified information, but suffice it to say that I DID, boldly and unashamedly, get a taste of that chocolate fondue (thanks to some primary teachers from Altlanta) and it would be definitely worth another trip to Atlanta. Dante is the charming guy in the middle in between the two intellectual types who remain unidentified.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ISTE Nets Refreshed - 21st Century Skills

ISTE has redone their National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) in keeping with the move away from technology as an information source to be learned through a graduated series of tasks and skills. This reflects the immense change in the last 10 or so years and the emergence of Web 2.0

As someone who has fought against the dreaded scope and sequence chart that administrators and superintendents are so fond of, I find this a refreshing change!

Here are the new areas of focus:

1. Creativity and Innovation
2. Communication and Collaboration
3. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
4. Digital Citizenship
5. Technology Operations and Concepts

You can download the pdf of the full documents here and check it out for yourself.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Constructivist Consortium - Premiere Event in Atlanta

Lucky me! I was able to get out to Atlanta a couple of days early for the NECC conference and attend a wonderful premiere event from The Constructivist Consortium. This group of educators and software creators are interested in rekindling the constructivist spirit in education with meaningful uses of educational technology.

The gorgeous setting of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens was the perfect backdrop for an engaging and refreshing day of learning and exploring. The day began with a keynote from Gary Stager who is never afraid to publicize the truth about education, both the harsh realities of a system that doesn't always keep the needs of students at the forefront, along with the inspiring hopefulness that keeps us teachers at it, and providing a lot of chuckles along the way.

Following Gary, Peter Reynolds urged us out of the box to put our DOT on the page and create during the day. We didn't have to be designers...we could just be designer-ish, taking the plunge and becoming the risk-takers that we so often expect of our students. Not an easy task, but we were up for it!

Then, in the style of the kindergarten program (a place where some folks might say we finally get it right in education), we were provided the opportunity to explore, create, design, collaborate and share with software from these excellent sources:

What an awesome day! I'm so pleased to be involved with this grass-roots organization from the premiere event and hope that I can continue to be involved.