Overall, I really like this conference. It was only a one hour drive. I stayed overnight and brought the family, and had fun going out with them the next day. One day is a nice length, but there was enough time to socialize too. I hear that CUE will return next year. If so, I’m signing up now!
My Preso with Larry Ferlazzo on Web 2.0 for ELD
Overall this session went very well from my point of view. The participants were engaged. Even though the conference had a lot of first time attendees, there were plenty of laptops open during the session. It was one of the few ELD sessions, and the only one titled specifically for ELD and ELLs. There is a big demand for workshops on that subject. The attendance was about the same as other sessions I was in, and larger than most at about 25-30. It was a whirlwind tour starting with why we use technology (basically, to solidify the face-to-face relationships that are necessary to help language learners and all students learn). We then went through some specific applications, like online game walk-throughs, VoiceThread, and blogs, oh and did I leave out Larry’s favorite new program, Fotobabble?
One of the participants asked, “Is the only advantage of using these online tools for oral language practice engagement?” Meaning, could you achieve the same results having students do these oral language activities face-to-face in class. This is an excellent question, and showed that the participant has the right attitude about technology and is looking for things that add real value.
Larry shared how important being able to re-record, and correct oneself was in making students more confident, so that they practiced more, and then got better in real life speaking situations. I shared my own experience with this, which was that I had gone into podcasting with students assume that my loquacious students would get the most from it as it would provide an outlet for their need to talk. I discovered instead that my quieter language learners were some of the most eager to volunteer to participate in making the podcasts because they felt safe. They could record in an empty classroom, and erase and fix any mistakes. This was a very important learning processes for these students, and I was proud to see it.
Some folks expressed concern about not being shown how to set up blogs, etc. that were part of the presentation. I think you have the choice of either showing the tool, or showing how to use it. In one hour, you can’t do both, but I did provide links to resources because there are plenty of them online.
Library of Congress: The Power of Primary Sources
I thought we’d dig into primary sources, but this session was more about navigating the LOC.gov website. That’s okay because as the presenter pointed out, navigating the site can only be helped by getting some more information (i.e.: while the UI has some good points, it’s not always intuitive where to find stuff). This is not surprising since it is, essentially, the nation’s storage closet, and we all know that even in a well organized one of those, when you get too much stuff, just knowing what to look for and where, is hard to figure out sometimes. Here are my rough-ish notes, cleaned up a bit:
The discussion started around primary sources, and what they are?
- Considerations (language, etc.)
- Analysis rather than recall
Quick facts: 138M items in collection; 650 miles of bookshelves; 470 languages represented. 15M digitized items you can access.
There are ways to search subjects and history
Are the pictures CC licensed? If you click on about for an image, it will tell you.
All picture collections is often best: http://www.loc.gov/pictures
By Subject: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/index/subjects/
You can also look by exhibits http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/
THOMAS tracks bills, etc. http://thomas.loc.gov/
World Digital Libraries http://www.loc.gov/wdl/
to see what other countries have
My LOC, http://myloc.gov/pages/default.aspx for your own info, but what? I missed that part.
Ask a librarian will help answer reference questions from 2-4 EDT they have live chat for the collections marked “Chat” here http://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/
You can do self-paced lessons to get recognized for your knowledge of the site http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/
They have 4-day summer institute you can apply for (travel on you). Sorry didn’t get the link for that.
Using Data in a Professional Learning Community
This last session had the least technological, but it may prove the most fruitful over the long run. It was about Professional Learning Communities. Since these are being implemented at my site, it seemed worth my while to take a peek in at it. The subject/grade level was based on the presenter’s work in High School Algebra. A very different place developmentally from most of my kids, but a lot of it was about the adults (teachers) and getting them to play well with others. Here were some guidelines I gleaned:
- Pick a single unit to focus on, not the whole curriculum;
- Agree to common goals to teach students in that unit (it seemed to align to benchmark testing in the presenter’s case, and would at my district as well);
- Agree on the measures that will be used to assess which should included assessments beyond benchmark tests (e.g., multiple choice and written exam);
- Share score data, and discuss it with others in the PLN (sometimes the hardest part).
Among the various forms she shared (paper, so old school, but?) was one gem:
This was a student self-assessment, where they indicate with a 🙂 or 🙁 after a chapter test (formative assessment) whether they understood each concept. They then compare that after they get their graded test back.
There was a really great discussion about these sorts of tools on Lee Kolbert’s Facebook wall recently. She shared a student feedback sheet from Florida based on the annual FCAT test the state gives students. Forms like that are a dime a dozen in the schools (usually in PI) that I’ve taught in, and Sylvia Martinez zeros in on why they are useless. They are too little, too late, since they are summative, not formative in nature. I would also add that they lack in applicable specificity for the student.
The presenter’s story about her form is really what impressed. Even “F” students in the program could point to one skill they had on the form, and for the learning targets they didn’t have, they knew what they had to work on and could articulate it to teachers.
One of the things that I enjoy about smaller conferences is I find I’m much happier with the keynote speaker. Sure it’s nice to see a famous author, but usually they cover territory I’ve already heard if I read their book. I have more than a passing acquaintance with Rushton Hurley the opener on Friday night, but his keynote was fresh and full of new material. The big take-away, using technology as tools for project-based learning for our kids. I don’t know how Hall Davidson manages to do it, but his presentations always seem up to date. Actually I do know, if you ever see him at a conference, he is usually doing last minute re-writes before he goes on-stage. His take away, sometimes folks on Facebook and Twitter at a lecture or presentation are talking about…the presentation, which makes it better.