Thursday was officially the first day of the conference, but I already had 2 very full days of learning and networking under my belt by that time.
Peer Coaching Birds of a Feather Session:
The room was packed with Peer Coaches and Mentees from Cadre 1 and Cadre 2. We heard about the success and the challenges of the work we have done so far and were given information about the Cadre 3 Grant. Applications are open for Cadre 3 . This is a 2 year program focusing on using peer coaching to enhance and embed meaningful technology into content learning. Not only do you learn more about using technology in your classroom, you build your skills as a peer coach and gain funding for technology for both you and the person you are mentoring. This grant is for teachers who are tech savvy, but you don't have to be an expert, just willing to learn and share with others. I highly recommend planning to do this within your content area so that you can build on your School Improvement plan and PLCs instead of just adding one more thing. We have been told that there will be positions available for all qualified applicants through the stimulus package. Information and the application can be found here .
Before the keynote started. I was very surprised and honored to be awarded the NCCE Technology Educator of the Year. It was fun to see the power of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) as news spread to the other side of the country via Twitter, before I even got back to my seat. This was quite and honor and I really appreciate those in the Mount Vernon School district who honored me by sending in letters of nomination.
The Opening Keynote was Debra Pickering, coauthor of Classroom Instruction the Works. This book has been like as a bible in our district as we have focused on high yeild learning strategies. Debra stated that these strategies are really better named "High Probability Strategies" because nothing works best in every situation. You have to know your students and watch for results. She emphasised that we should be focused on the learning goals. Not the tools. She asks are students attending to technology, or is technology enhancing their engagement in learning? When students are focused on the learning goals, the do better than if they focus on the activity. She had several examples of how we have focused on activities instead of learning. One such example was the celebration of "Mole Day" in Chemistry classes. Here are some examples I found on Flickr . Projects must meet learning targets. No Electronic Dioramas. Focus on Learning Goals. To emphasise the point that technology has to be purposeful to improve student learning Pickering showed a sketch from Saturday Night Live where an Interactive White Board was not being used in a purposeful way.
After the whirlwind days and sessions so far, I decided to do something a little less heady in the afternoon. NCCE has been doing a Geocaching activity at their conference for several years, in fact, I first was introduced to geocaching at NCCE in Seattle about 5 years ago. Organizers had set up a puzzle cache around the area of the convention center. There were 8 caches to find. At each cache there was a paper punch with a different design. When you had found all of the caches. There would be one spot/design left without a punch. This design had a combination code for opening a treasure chest. Inside were lots of goodies plus you could enter to win a $300 gas card. Didn't win the card, but enjoyed the caching. I loved the simple idea of hiding the paper punches to complete a puzzle cache. There are so many great applications from using Geocaching and GPS receivers in classrooms. Here are a few.Pin It Now!