Here is a reflection of what I experienced this past Saturday at Edscape 2014, an educational technology conference in New Milford, New Jersey. I have attempted to briefly recap what took place, while also supplying the reader (you) with the most beneficial resources and ideas on which I could get my hands.
With the hustle and bustle of the daily school schedule, this conference was a nice opportunity to escape from reality (even for just one day).
After waking up around 2:30 am and driving about 3.5 hours, I arrived at New Milford High School in time for a live Satchat, hosted by Brad Currie (@bradmcurrie) and Billy Krakower (@wkrakower). I was a live guest on the chat, and some of the others who joined in were Starr Sackstein (@mssackstein), Chris Casal (@mr_casal), Lyn Hilt (@lynhilt), Elissa Malespina (@elissamalespina), Sandra Paul (@spaul6414), and Sharon Plante (@iplante). These dedicated educators are all members of my PLN (personal learning community), and while I had previously spent time with some of them, others I met face-to-face for the first time at this conference. Along with Starr’s impressive tattoos, I also need to mention the fact that Sharon came through in a big way by bringing in five pizzas from Pepe Pizzeria in Fairfield, Connecticut! (Their clam pie is often rated the top pizza in the country!)
Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher), a 6th grade teacher from Illinois delivered the keynote. Some memorable quotes:
- “Complain about the ‘boxes’ or build something within them.”
- “There is always a skunk in the road when it comes to change.”
- “The best data is observational and conversational.”
- “Is that a red kid or a green kid?”
- “Run for fun and personal bests.”
- “We’ve done a poor job exploring students’ passions.”
- “You have a chance everyday to do something new or what you have always done. Choose wisely.”
For the first session I attended Lyn Hilt’s presentation on transforming professional development. This is the second time I have seen her speak on the topic, and her ideas are always unique, interesting, and clearly explained. Watching Lyn do her thing will easily serve as motivation the next time I am putting together professional development. During the session she shared a link to a Google document, Innovative PD Resources. Definitely take a look!
Fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Courtney Pepe (@ipadqueen2012) ran a session on mobile devices and apps. Courtney is also someone who I have seen present before, and she has a lot of passion for using technology – especially Apple products – in transformative ways. Courtney did an impressive job of discussing the SAMR Model, and connecting its different stages to specific classroom activities.
For the first half of this period I attended Sharon Plante’s and Billy Krakower’s presentation on incorporating LEGO toys with reading and writing skills. While I used these toys when I was a fourth grade teacher, and I will probably be purchasing more for a makerspace, Sharon and Billy offered a unique approach that calls for teachers to leverage the toys as a part of everyday literacy instruction. This is definitely an idea that I would like to share with my teachers. Their slides are here.
For the second half of the period, Laura Fleming (@NMHS_lms) presented on makerspaces, which is of interest to me because I am currently working with a few teachers on getting one up and running in one of my schools. Laura was kind enough to share her slides, and towards the end of her session she brought the attendees over to see her space. (She works at the same school in which the conference took place.) The photographs that I took of the makerspace are here.
For the final session, Starr Sackstein and Brad Currie conducted more of an informal conversation on progressive grading techniques (or issuing no grades at all). It was interesting to watch the interaction between Starr, a teacher, and Brad, an administrator. “Progressive grading” is an area about which I would like to learn more. So, I took the time to talk to Starr about what books I should read, and I will definitely be keeping in touch with her in the future. Overall, I appreciated the intimacy of the presentation as it did not contain any props or fancy slides, but it was rather a candid conversation prompted by two knowledgeable people.
Both throughout the conference (and at the gathering afterwards), I also had the opportunity to interact with a few other educators, including: Rob Pennington (@robpennington9), Amy Traggienese (@atragg), Lisa Meade (@LisaMeade23), Monica Burns (@ClassTechTips), Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger), and Tom Murray (@thomacmurray). As much as I enjoy collaborating with other educators over social media, I always appreciate being able to put a face to an avatar.
I have attended Edscape for the past three years, and it has always been one of my favorite conferences. Here is to the conference staying alive and another great time in 2015!