I’ve been to NECC several times, but as a first-timer to EduCon, if I had to choose between the two conferences, I’d lean towards EduCon for the following:
Reason #1: Sessions are more like conversations than presentations. Every session I attended truly was “an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas – from the very practical to the big dreams.”
Reason #2: There are no extra fees to attend certain sessions, no matter who the “conversation facilitator” might be.
Reason #3: Meeting in real-time many of the people I follow in Twitter and/or whose blogs I subscribe to.
Reason #4: Ignite Sessions (a.k.a. Enciendas). OK, I didn’t actually make it upstairs to the Science Leadership Academy library in time to hear any of the lunch time, 5-minute presentations. But if the rest were on par with Andrea Zellner’s 5-minute piece, The Writing Revolution – R U Literate?, then I definitely like the injection of the encienda format into a 3-day conference.
Reason #5: Science Leadership Academy – Real-time students greatly added to the conversations, sharing their enthusiasm for their SLA community, acting as guides into a 1×1 laptop environment – and providing just-in-time tech support to all in need. And, hey, SLA is in Philadelphia. What more can I say?!
My take-aways from today’s Educon sessions come from two workshops:
The Cost of Copyright Confusion: The Future of Intellectual Property in a Remix Generation – Kristen Hokanson – Today’s session was actually my second time to participate in one of Kristen’s copyright workshops. Last summer I joined the 3-hour NECC session she and Rene Hobbs facilitated – and I blogged the session, with links to all their resources.
I attended today’s session to see how Kristen would compact her presentation into 1 1/2 hours. It was a fast-paced 90-minutes – but still highly participatory. I lucked out by sitting at the same table as Rene Hobbs. So here are a few gems I gathered today:
* Effective use of copyrighted materials enhances the teaching and learning process. It’s important that as educators we exercise our fair use muscles – and teach our students to do the same. Our students need to think about why they are incorporating copyrighted materials and the amount needed to accomplish whatever their message is. Kids have to think critically about the materials they’re using.
* The big question: Is the benefit to society greater than the cost to the copyright holder? It’s all about balance. But as Rene points out, “Fair use is never crystal clear until a judge rules on it.”
It still amazes me that Cost of Copyright Confusion wiki did not win a 2009 Edublogs Eddie Award. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to nominate – and recognize -Rene’s, Kristen’s, and the Center for Social Media’s substantial efforts to make this complex topic accessible.
Youth Voices – A Social Network Where Teachers Nurture Student-to-Student Conversation – Paul Allison – What if students were allowed to participate in “passionate inquiry’? Would they write more? Would they write at a deeper level? Would they connect with others who shared – or disagreed with – their ideas? If you take a tour of the Youth Voices project, I think you’ll agree the answer is “yes” to all of the above. The Youth Voices project is a great example of what can happen when a group of teachers, with encouragement from Paul, continues to grow the project, both in the thoughtful, sometimes experimental, use of technology and the structure and support offered to their student community.
My gems from Paul’s session are the Youth Voices Guides – http://youthvoices.net/guides! Workshop participants had a chance to use the Agree or Disagree form – http://youthvoices.net/node/1904. The forms/templates are there for as long as the students need them.. I knew Paul and YV colleagues Susan Ettenheim and Chris Sloan had been working on a few guides, but oh my, there are currently over 30 guides, with some available in Spanish. Great take-aways!
Heading off for meet up with NWP colleagues @Pauloh and @azellner to debrief the day:-)
Here are my take-aways from the three Saturday Educon2.2 sessions I attended:
2.Go – Paul Bogush – I really liked the way Paul Bogush rolled out the Web 2.0 tools to our group, most of whom were new to wikis, blogs, podcasts and Google Docs. Paul presented these tools “from the trenches” via his class wiki – http://collaborationnation.wikispaces.com/. As he walked us through samples of students’ collaborative writing, he shared lessons learned along the way, such as creating a classroom culture for checking the wiki each morning for assignments: you simply continue to refer students the site for FAQs about assignments.
My favorite question & answer from the session was the difference between a blog and a wiki: “A wiki is for team hardcore content and empowers the class as a whole. A blog is for the outside world and empowers the class around a ‘total question.'”
Learning 2.0 – Overhauling Classroom Best Practice – David Warlick – As if Son of Citation Maching were not enough, David Warlick is working on a new program: http://knitterchat.com/plotter/. Think about assignments some of your colleagues are currently giving students. Maybe the classic Write a State Report assignment. Using this ‘plot-a-thought’ tool, as teachers collaboratively brainstorm how to bring the assignment into the 21st century, they could watch the assignment move up on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Of course, teachers could do this without an online tool…given some common planning time…but that’s another conversation.
Using Technology to Foster Exploration and Reflection in Science – Lucy Gray & Debbie Leslie – I really enjoyed the shared conversations in the session about ways to leverage technology to support hands-on, inquiry-based science instruction. Lucy Gray and Debbie Leslie work together at the University of Chicago Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education on the Science Companion program – http://www.sciencecompanion.com/. Although this program is connected to a textbook adoption, you can preview some of the units on the Science Companion site. How can we promote a love and understanding of science in our youngest students? As the “I Wonder Circle” shows, students need permission to wonder without a right answer. The discipline of science is really about the questions, not the answers.
I have the good fortune of extending my Educon experience through morning and evening meet ups with my NWP colleagues – which is where I’m headed right now:-)
I spent Day 1 of Educon 2.2 at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy visiting classrooms, chatting with students and staff, and pretty much standing back in awe of what teaching and learning look like when a school site believes that:
Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members
Our schools must be about co-creating – together with our students – the 21st Century Citizen
Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around
Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate
Learning can – and must – be networked
In every classroom, it was clear that students were maximizing the school’s 1×1 laptop program. In the chemistry class on the left, for instance, students were working on creating a movie series about their microscopic findings. In Mr. Kay’s English class, students delved into a thought-provoking discussion about the impact of the environment on the actions of four characters in Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred, drawing from their online journals when they needed time to clarify their own thinking.
From the moment I entered SLA and throughout the day, I could feel the positive energy generated by students’ taking ownership of their own learning. But I’ll let SLA student Matthew tell you why he values his SLA education.
Looking for examples of what’s working in public education? Spend a day at SLA.