Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Afternoon - NECC

I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment, but more than that, I'm frustrated because I can't seem to get a wireless connection in any sessions I've attended except at the very beginning and very end. It could be there are many people trying to access the wireless (this is a technology conference anyways), it could be my computer (it's been giving me's time for a new computer), or a combination of both. Needless to say, I have now walked back across the street to my hotel room and plugged into the wall (because this hotel does not have wireless...hmm...).

I decided that I was not going to carry my computer around when I really should be typing as little as possible (see previous post about hand) and I can't even get onto the internet anyways. I am going to drop off my computer (lighten my load), post a blog, and head back over to the convention center.

If I had to sum up, in one word, my first two session this morning... Humbling.
I chose this word not because they were such amazing presentations (and they were!) and not because it was information I had not heard before (though I always learn something new), but because of the overwhelming feeling I have to be better at what I do to impact our 21st century kids. Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and talking to a brick wall, but I come here and realize it's all worth it. I feel like a small insect in a big forest, but then, as David Warlick pointed out, we all have the capability to publish information. In my book (figuratively speaking, of course) - that is one way I can make a difference. It's very humbling to think that I can post this information and people from all over the world can read this information or I can stand up in front of teachers sharing a learning experience with them and, hopefully, use the information to their benefit and the benefit of our kids (why most of us do what we do).

Okay...enough of that. :)

David Jakes - One Hour PowerPoint: A Strategy for Improving Presentations

I realize that this presentation was intended for teachers to use to help their students become better at presenting; however, since that's my job, I was able to find wonderful strategies to make me better at my job. We were introduced to 10 practical ways to improve presentations. You can find
information for this training on his wiki.

David Warlick - Our Students-Our World

David spoke to the idea that our students do not learn like most of us were taught (and learned), therefore we need to change the way we teach to reach our kids. Our world is flat and, it's that way whether we like it or not! :) We've heard it before, but I suspect it'll keep being said until we all hear it "We're teaching 21st century students in 19th century classrooms". Think about that... That goes right along with the theme for my blog... You can find
more information for this training on his blog.

I suspect I will continue to find wonderful sessions. Check back later for more NECC 2008 goodies I've found!

Monday Morning - NECC

I'm here! OMG! So much stuff...and I'm loving it. :)

My co-worker and I arrived on a plane from Amarillo, TX yesterday about 5:00. Unfortunatley we missed the opening keynote, but we did make it to Rhonda Curtsinger's poster session. Rhonda Curtsinger is a teacher in one of our Region 16 distrists - Hereford ISD - that does amazaing things with her students. She will be presenting what she did with her kids on Tuesday, July 1st. Come! See!

We literally rolled off the plane, got our luggage, found a taxi, dropped our stuff in our room, and headed over. We're very excited to be staying in the Marriott Riverwalk - right across the street from the Conference Center. That doesn't happen very often.

I'm actually sitting in the blogger's cafe right now - just saw David Jakes. I am planning on attending his session at 11:00; however, I might need to head that direction NOW to get a seat. With over 18, 000 people in attendance, will I get a seat in any session at all?

My co-workers and I went to Starbucks this morning before heading over to the conference center. Have to have that coffee so I can wake up. Is that sad? I will say, though, that we have been asked at least 5 times (and counting) where the Starbucks is located. Most say it's too far (there is one in the food court of the RiverCenter mall), but it's an interesting "experiment" none-the-less.

A sidenote here - this past Thursday night (the 26th) I was typing - working on homework - and felt something "pop" in my right hand (and, of course, I'm right-handed). Very painful. I went to the doctor on Friday and was told I have a cyst on either a tendon or a muscle that is pushing against a nerve. Too much typing. He said coming to the conference would probably help because I wouldn't be typing as much. Little did he know... :) Anyways - I go to the hand surgeon on July 7th. I am currently wearing a wrist brace for support and am trying to be as careful as possible. I have to type, though. I must journal my first NECC experience! :)

More to come tonight after the sessions...

Friday, June 13, 2008

The End Result

Over the past week I have been thinking about my next blog posting. I started work on my next class for my Master's Degree and have been moved to talk about things I've been learning. I do plan on posting information, but at a later date.

I am also currently involved in two different online learning opportunities. One is an online class that I am taking as part of professional development for my job. It is the Web Instructor's Certification Course I (WICC I) offered through Region 4 ESC. Region 16 ESC is a partner of the Texas Virtual School (TVS) - which is not to be confused with the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) - and one of the requirements to teach for TVS is to take WICC I. To be able to teach it to teachers that are interested from Region 16, I first have to take the course myself. We started this week and I have already learned a lot and have ideas about topics to post in my blog.

The second online opportunity I am involved in is an online book club. This will also help me professionally so I do consider it a professional development opportunity; however, I am doing this more on the personal level as well. It is the 1st Annual CASTLE book club and we are reading Influencer - The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. I've almost finished reading through chapter 2 and, again, have already learned so much. Thankfully we have a discussion board that will give me an outlet to talk about the book; however, I do plan on posting some of the things I am learning through the reading of this book.

As I have thought about what I would post this week, I thought about why I was doing all of this learning and all of this professional development. Why do educators, those that want to be facilitators of learning, continue to learn? Most enjoy learning, but I still don't believe that to be the main reason. I think it is "The End Result". Our goal as facilitators of learning (and even parents) is to release the students into the real-world as successful and, dare I say, happy individuals. As educators we must think about what we want the end result to be when it comes to our students. Do we care if they can resite word for word the Preamble of the Constitution or do we care that they understand the meaning of the Preamble of the Constitution and know where to access the information?

What does all of this have to do with 21st century teaching? Traditionally the Preamble of the Constitution was "memorized" because that is how we "learned" and how we were able to access that information. Often times, we were taught the meaning by listening to a lecture from our teacher. We didn't have the information at our fingertips or even as much access to interactive tools like we do now. There were other places to find the information, but often times that required that you had money to purchase something or a way to get to the library. There were those dynamic teachers that brought history to life and made you really live the experience, but for the most part, teaching was done through lecture. Living in the 21st century and being that 21st century teacher means we show them how to access the Preamble of the Constitution and dive into the meaning through meaningful and purposful interactive experiences. How cool if you could arrange to have a videoconference with one of your state senators.

When you're a teacher - whether Kindergarten or 12th grade - your focus should always be "The End Result." The question then becomes: How can I help this student be a successful, productive, and responsible citizen?

I do plan to blog on all of this learning I'm doing, but I thought it important to talk about and remember why we're all here and why we do what we do.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ready to Face The World...

I have been gone on vacation. I was out all last week. I didn't go anywhere. My husband still had to go to work; however, I used the time to rest...and get my house cleaned. I needed that break. Going to school (working on my Master's Degree in Instructional Technology) and working full time...a combination for being tired. :) I know many of you have experienced and/or are experiencing that right now. Shout out to all of you! Weeks like last week make it possible to continue. I'm taking a class both summer sessions so...back to reality! :)

I have been back at work since Monday; however, as most know, it took me a few days to catch up on e-mails and take care of the "fires" that were blazing. I spent most of yesterday preparing for a class my co-worker and I are starting next week. I am so thrilled! We are trying something new. It's called "Web 2.0 Boot Camp". The idea (piggybacking off some of the things that were discussed in my last post - in the comment sections) is to have a face-to-face day where they learn about different Web 2.0 tools. There will then be 2 follow up courses online. One happening this summer where they will choose at least 2 tools and use them on a personal level. During this follow up course there will be discussion and assistance from myself and my co-worker as needed. The second follow up will occur during the beginning of school where they will take the tools they used and learn to use them in their classrooms. They will take things they are already doing and, by the time the class is over, will have created a lesson plan (or plans) that uses the technology to enhance their lessons. The "boot camp" will conclude with a virtual showcase of projects towards the end of the semester. We are very excited about the training. If you live in Region 16 in Texas - registration ends Friday (tomorrow)! There's still room so come join us!!

I must give shout outs to Scott McLeod and Coach. The first two people to ever comment on my blog. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see comments - and such excellent comments at that! I highly recommend you read their comments and add your own ideas and answers. There was a time when my blog fizzled because I thought no-one really ever came and read, but then, with the addition of the Live Traffic Feed, I realized that wasn't the case. That motivated me to continue to write and I hope my thoughts, at the very least, spark thoughts of your own. One of the things that motivates me in my job is reading the blogs I subscribe to every day (including Scott McLeod's). It helps me to stay current and, most of all, be motivated to do it another day! For those of you out there reading my blog (and hopefully other's as well), thank you and I hope I can give you some encouragement to "do it another day!" :)