Edscape. (Had I realized how far north New Milford is I likely would never have registered. I'm glad I didn't know.) Edscape is a one-day conference hosted by Eric Sheninger, the principal of New Milford High School. (The picture here was taken by Eric. The school is absolutely stunning and just being there might have been worth the five hour drive.)
The day opened with a keynote from Vicki Davis. I was familiar with Vicki's work before yesterday and had seen her in passing at ISTE but had never heard her speak. She was phenomenal. She talked about how the only one we can change is our self. There was a lot of detail about ways to focus our own change and then, how powerful our own change can be. At one point she talked about the importance of attitude but did say that her attitude is the one that matters most. Vicki was funny, passionate, and inspirational. I walked away thinking that I will not do something in my classroom that I would not want done to my own children (or at least, I'll try not to).
The first session I went to was led by Lisa Thumann (one of the few people at Edscape I already follow on twitter and knew from conferences but I picked her session because it was the most intriguing). She led a conversation about tradition vs. innovation. It began with a brief intro from Lisa and then all of us brainstorming ideas or practices that are traditional or innovative. We then took sides on a few of them and had an interesting debate about the best way or content to teach. I love having these conversations with educators at all levels and from many different schools and districts. Those varied perspectives help me process things and better understand my own thinking. (I'm still thinking about teaching handwriting and/or keyboarding...)
For the second session I went to see another twitter friend, Paul Bogush. Again, his session was the most interesting to me. Paul is a middle school social studies teacher who does a lot of live streaming from his classroom. I have watched his students perform music, poetry, and listened to their podcasts before. He talked about how he does all of this. I'm not sure how this would look with first graders, but given how easy USTREAM makes it I am thinking about how to give it a try.
After lunch I went to one of the sessions presented by Teq, a company that was involved in sponsoring Edscape. This one was about digital storytelling, something I have been excited about since participating (to some extent) in ds106 early in the summer. Teq's session was not so much about the creative side as it was about the technical bit. Oddly enough that was really helpful for me. It clarified for me how to get started with all the pie-in-the-sky ideas I have.
I ended my day with Samantha Morra, another middle school teacher. Her session was about gaming, something I have little knowledge of. I have now downloaded Scratch onto my computer and am excited about the Scratch cards. I think my nine-year-old and I may have to bond over Scratch. I did walk away from this session feeling like I have a better foundation for gaming than I had thought. Gaming always makes me think of something big and serious but Samantha reminded me of all the games I do use with kids, including Turtle Art.
Every session and the keynote gave me things to think about and to try. I had great conversations with educators (most of them from the NJ, NY, CT area). Next year the conference is on October 19th. I don't know that I can do 500 miles round trip in one day again, but it may be worth looking into taking the train...