EdTech 2008

 Overall I thought the conference was great.  I found out about it through a colleague who I met while working on my ISTE NETS-T certification.  I actually got to meet Anita at the conference!! It was nice to actually meet someone who I had spent 18 months studying with online. 

I went to eight sessions while at the conference.  I took notes, but summary is a great strategy…

  1. Sara Armstrong talked about assessing 21st century skills.  It was very interesting that she brought together three models of teaching 21st century skills that overlapped.  While I have studied all three models: The partnership for 21st century skills, ISTE’s NETS, and the enGauge model; I had never actually looked at them side by side before. I found the overlap surprising since I had never considered them in the same light and yet not surprising as they are all models for teaching 21st century skills.  I was dumbfounded when I realized that I failed to make that connection before.  Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees…Sara also posited that the digital native/digital immigrant dichotomy might not be the best way to conceptualize our relationships with technology.
  2. My second session was a panel aimed at helping administrators think about use of technology in education.  Goochland schools talked about blogs and online learning.  They have an elementary principal that blogs about goings on in the school.  He has a strategy that he uses where he takes his IPOD and microphone out through the school and interviews students after different events.  He records student reactions and uploads them to the blog.  He uses these podcasts to drive traffic to the blog and find that while there parents, students and other stakeholders read and comment about various events, situations, and policies and it helps the school climate.  Henrico talked about blogging and while I have a handle on educational uses of the technology, I found they had some strategies that I had not run across before and/or had misunderstood.  They have teachers who simply moderate their blogs, assigning the major portion of posting to the students who all have various user status for the blog.  Some very interesting ideas were thrown out which were timely for me because I was preparing for my own inservice on blogging.  Powhatan discussed their strategy for raising the bar in terms of tech integration with their teachers.  Their teachers are required to turn in a technology portfolio every three years – kinda like recertifying for TSIP.  TRTs are assigned to the teachers with the lowest tech skills.  Teachers who want “additional stuff” have to spend time troubleshooting and helping other teachers integrate technology.  Ten percent of the teachers in Powhatan are tech leads.
  3. I was not impressed with Larry Anderson’s presentation, and quite frankly didn’t understand what point he was trying to make.  He talked around a lot of the issues in the air but I don’t think he ever really made a point.
  4. Karen Richardson talked about the need to change how we perceive assessment.  She challenged participants to not only consider the purpose of assessment but to look at it in the context of the skills that Sara Armstrong discussed in the morning.  She asked us to rate our schools in terms of what they are measuring well (after she removed straight content area knowledge out of the focal point).  It was a great exercise.  Of course I new that my schools weren’t doing a whole lot of anything that wasn’t content area related.  So of course I need to ask the question ‘what are we preparing kids for at my schools”?  Obviously we are not preparing them to be successful in the 21st century…
  5. I sat through Spotsylvania’s presentation on data mining. I totally misunderstood the thrust of their presentation from the conference program.  I was glad that I was sitting at a table with my laptop…I got caught up on my school email.  I do have to say that I liked their explanation on how to use data: formative assessment informs instruction and is data that can make a difference in this year’s students while summative data is data that shows instructional trends.  I couldn’t help thinking that their take on the SOL was so much healthier than what I am usually exposed to.   Wondered if we are even able to establish and look at trends in data here in Portsmouth given the rate of teacher turnover, constant changes in placement and instructional strategies and materials.  Since they all effect our data, how good can our data be?
  6. The next session I went to was about professional learning communities.  A school in Henrico had used PLC models for teacher professional development about technology.  I would LOVE to facilitate something similar in one of my schools. It’s always better when teachers drive their professional development – they get more out of it.
  7. After lunch I got caught up with Anita discussing the keynote and comparing war stories.  I caught the tail end of a presentation on adult learners.  At least I know where to get the notes.
  8. The last session I went to was done by a professor at VCU who talked about using Web 2.0 communications technology to help beginning teachers establish networks.  I found her thoughts on digital natives and immigrants to be interesting.  She said the primary difference was that digital natives lead connected lives whiel digital immigrants tend to stand alone.

Getting all of that down on paper and synthesized feels good – like a weight has been lifted.  Wait ’till I tell you about David Warlick’s keynote!!