Monday, May 14, 2012

Dynamic Landscapes Take Away

Last week I headed to Burlington, VT with some colleagues to attend Dynamic Landscapes.  Friday morning started off with the hilarious and engaging Jennifer LaGarde.  @jenniferlagarde talked about Personal Learning Networks (check out her SlideShare on PLNs), and the power of Twitter and Blogging in developing her professional community and furthering real world connections for her students.  As LaGarde talked about her Twitter epiphany and transformation from a consumer to a contributor, I sat thinking about how closely her story echoed my own foray into social media.  The best part of her talk was that she inspired some of our teachers to jump on the bandwagon. Check out @vielleuxcrew, @readinginVT, @VTgradeone, and @chicksinfirst. These teachers are starting their journey into the Twitter world, so follow them and send them some encouragement as they find their way.

Another session I attended was about Connected Voices and VoiceThread.  I love VoiceThread, but still haven't bitten the bullet for a school subscription. The presentation presented the options available to VT schools as well as some great examples from schools around the state.  I am making a note on my to-do list that I am going to spend more time next year developing VoiceThread work in our district.

Maybe the most impressive session of the conference was the presentation from South Burlington's Real World Design Team.  These students blew me away with their clear presentation skills, conceptual understanding of aeronautical engineering, and humility.  This project, while daunting to a former English teacher like me, demonstrates the real successes of allowing students to tackle real problems with access to real technology, with support from mentor facilitators.  They are great reminders of why we should continue to create these opportunities for our students.

Along similar lines, I also attended a session about iPads and creativity and innovation.  Admittedly, I am not a gamer, but I understand the interest and the educational value for some of our students.  This session highlighted some free apps like AppCraft and 123DSculpt that can be used with students to encourage and facilitate app development and design.  I even spent some time this weekend with AppCraft, and would like to incorporate some of these game building opportunities in our curriculum in the future.  For more info check out Lucie's blog: Learning with Lucie for tips and tricks.

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