I feel so fortunate to have been able to attend two days of this year's Building Learning Communities Conference. The presenters were outstanding and the connections I made priceless. My head is bursting with ideas and cannot wait to flush out ideas and create goals with my CPS colleagues. Before the conference we were asked to try to come away from the conference with personal, school, and district goal ideas. I did not realize the floodgate of ideas this conference would create.

Thursday Presentations
Betty Ann Fish, Springside School, PA, started my journey. ( She is a physical education teacher that integrates so much curriculum into her classes. Betty always has a camera and flip video camera ready and waiting for opportunities. Her school has different mediums for sharing her projects/ videos. They have a virtual mail bag and a plasma tv in the hall on the way to the cafeteria to run video projects from all classes. Sometimes she films, has a student film, or an outside person to get all the action. She created a Happy and Healthy by Sidney McKay podcast in a joint venture with parents and their children. Some ways she funds her technology is through Powerful Learning Practice (a local group) and a NING community.

Next I was blown away by the keynote speaker, Michael Wesch. He is the assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Digital Ethnography at Kansas State University. Just watch his videos on youtube. It is amazing. There is a human connection floating around in the air. We need knowedge ability which is communication, empathy, and thoughtfulness interconnected. Everyone seeks meaning and search for identity and recognition. When media changes... relationships change. There is a need for critical thinking to limit the effects of the media onslaught. Web 2.0 is not just about linking information but is about linking people.

Next on my agenda was, Joyce Valenza, school librarian. Her presentation was chuck full of practical resources. I especially felt her digital citizenship links were very important.

As a looked over the sessions before the conference, this was the presentation I did not want to miss and I was not disappointed. Rebooting the 3Rs was presented by the trio of Maria Knee, (K teacher Deerfield, NH), Kathy Cassidy (Grade 1 Moose Jaw, SK) and Amanda Marrinan (Grade 2 Brisbane AU). They met at a conference not many years ago and in part by Maria's class', Making Maple Syrup (all K teachers hesitant about technology must watch this!) This trio will be my inspiration this year! They showed me how to do the things I want to try. (more video, skype, podcasts, topic wikis). All of their ideas are fairly easily to accomplish, child centered, and developmentally appropriate.

Alas Media Group Digital Storytelling blew me away with their tips and examples of what students can create with basic tools. Now we all are journalists. More and more photography apps have been developed. Photo stories combine a narrative/ poem, picture video, text, music, sound effects, and ambient audio.Use the stories to reflect and review. Use interviews to make photo stories. Create a field trip story for a blog.For a vacation story, choose one moment in time. Take pictures in coverage: wide (location), medium (action), and close (detail). For better audio use a wind screen by Radio head. Create your "B side" stories for your students to learn more about you. Try out a flickr blog challenge or at to practive your photography skills.

Valerie Becker brought a 5th Grade teacher and students from her school in West Tisbury, MA to show examples of student projects where they constructed their own learning. The students did a fabulous job showing us how to use the clickers and how engage they are in their learning.

Friday Presentations

I came back tired but ready for more. As an extra treat I met Maria Knee and Kathy Cassidy at breakfast. It was wonderful to share ideas with them.

First stop was skype partners, Lucy Howard (Buckingham, England) and Michelle Anderson (Edmond, OK). They really connected as people first and then established school relationships. Lucy came to Edmond quickly after about 2 weeks of knowing Michelle and Michelle also visited the UK. Lucy had found Michelle's school from when she wanted a primary resource for tornadoes. During the presentation we skyped with Lucy's class and a teacher in Germany who has formed a relationship with Michelle also through Global Gateways.

Rahaf Harfoush, new media expert, wrote Yes We Did: How Social Media built the Obama brand
The power of strategy is important in an integrated campign. Online organizing equals offline action. The campaign was creating new engagement opportunities.
We need to be wary of arbitrary metrics and focus on value add. They targeted high engagement users and used hyper segmented emails. You need to know your audience and build slowly. Many universities offer Facebook office hours. Facebook, Twitter are strengthing relationships in the offline world. Technology is changing how we think, interact with info, obtain instant gratification and a rich media experience. There is a new model to participate in elections and it has global impact. Rahaf is writing a new book,Misfits,

Next I got to play with iPad/ iPod apps with Bill Seng. He is a science/ SpEd teacher (Medford, NJ) He received a grant (about $24,000) to purchase a bretford syncing/ charging cart with a macbook and 30 supporting 40 ipod touches. He wanted to hijack the skills kids use in everyday life for school learning.

I had to see another Kathy Cassidy presentation, Point and Shoot.She really hit home the importance of video. 83% of learning comes from sight and 11% auditory. In class we neglect viewing and representing. We are teaching the youtube generation. Creating video is collaborative and captures learning. We sykped with 6 year old video expert, Carlson. He likes making videos because you review your work and see how much you have grown. His mother joined the conversation and discussed the safety factor. She believes it is fine because it is first name only and it is a wonderful tool. They live in a very small community.

Maria Knee ended my conference. She is absolutely wonderful. It is about the tools. The idea of community is not new but the community has grown. We want students to be reflective learners. Ideally every child would have a tool in his or her hand. The students use a learning hub - by January they log on and set up net books and how to navigate. NEED TO MAKE A LEARNING HUB

  • ds nintendo can be used in class to network
  • compare BeeBot with kid steps in hallway to get to a certain spot
  • when a student can write first and last name can make first blog entry
  • uses Responsive Classroom Model and need to set social and community agenda first
  • each child has a class blog: drawing, tell their stories,
  • take flips on field trips
  • google earth if know your address

Possible goals in classroom:
  • more video, podcasts on student blog
  • using digital books
  • skype

Possible goals at Thoreau:
  • more wiki groups
  • ipod/ ipad carts
  • plasma tv in cafeteria, entry hall to run class projects during the day