Sunday, November 9, 2014

BIT14 Breaks Blog Blackout!

It's been over 2 years since I've written a blog post.  There have been many factors that have contributed to my writer's block, both personal and professional (that I won't go into in this post).  After returning from the ECOO Bring IT Together 2014 conference in Niagara Falls, I feel compelled to share my thoughts, learning, and special moments that occurred during my time there.

Missing @cakewley #sadface #bit14selfie
This year, I attended on Wednesday and Thursday only.  I've attended and presented at the conference every year since 2009.  It was a different experience for me this time around for many reasons.  The first of which was the absence of some great friends and colleagues this year.  Cheryl Kewley has always been my roomie for the ECOO conference and did not attend the conference this year. I really missed debriefing with her at night before going to sleep. It was a shift for me to have quiet reflection time by myself each night as I retired to my hotel room. I might have been more productive with my time but I did miss the face time with a good friend.

Also, for the past two years Euen O'Conner, Jeff Pelich and I have presented spoof-styled sessions at the conference that have been a lot of fun to prepare and perform at the event.  These guys provoke a laugh a minute when together and I certainly missed both learning and social time spent with these two.  Who know? There just might be an Ivana Tellastory, Willy Wiki, or Doc Google sighting again down the road...

@nobleknits2 @colleenkr @gill_ville
Relationships and face to face connections have become the greater benefit for attending these conferences for me.  I appreciate the learning (which I'll address later) but it's the time spent with inspirational, innovative, and/or creative people that really makes the event such an attraction.  I learn as much from the side conversations, lunch time chats, and stories shared during evening social events as I do from the sessions I attend. I was grateful for the very brief moments to connect with educators I rarely see such as Verana Roberts, Colleen Rose, and Heather Durnin.  I was extremely thankful for some one to one time with some pretty awesome people that directly supported MY learning journey.  Each of these conversations could spark their own post, however I'll try to share a brief summary.

Joe Valenti, SmartPen Central representative, was appearing as a vendor in the exhibit hall.  I have known Joe for a few years and have owned many Livescribe pens (that have come from him).  He was very helpful in explaining the changes Livescribe is undergoing with their products and services.  From this discussion, I have determined that the newer/updated versions are not better for me and my use for the pens. I have been receiving product emails regarding the new ECHO desktop and I warn other educators using these pens to become informed of the changes before downloading the new software.  I have some concerns regarding the sharing options and the switch from PDF creation that the Livescribe desktop version provides.  It is unclear whether old files and functions will transfer nicely into the new desktop.  Also the new viewing features require an internet browser (and access to internet) to view when shared.  For these reasons, I'm sticking to my old software.  The unfortunate part of these company transitions is the loss of the online community and option to embed the pencast in other web postings.  I'll have to work on a way around that one as I move forward. Also, I need to purchase a new pen as three of my old ones died around the same time.  I learned that the Sky pen and Livescribe 3 do not really offer features that make sense for my purposes.  The Livescribe 3 works with an iPad over WIFI which means I am tying up another device when the pen is in use.  I don't have extra iPads to spare for this use so it's not a practical pen for me to buy.  I'm sticking with the old tried and true ECHO pen.  It works for me.

Student Created Game
I am beginning to explore coding and maker space projects so I was thrilled to see so many "tinkering" stations at the Minds on Media event this year.  I was a little disappointed that I didn't have more time to be a participant as the stations were very interesting and hands-on this year.  I was very grateful for my time playing with Cathy Beach.  I had just received my Makey Makey in the mail the day before I left so I was able to take it out of the box and sit with Cathy as she showed me some cool projects she has seen and shared some resources related to Makey Makey.  My favourite was this student-created version of the game Operation created using Makey Makey and Scratch.  So many ideas spinning around and I can't wait to explore more and start using this with my students.

What's locked in the trunk of your car?
David Hann, an intermediate teacher in my PLN has been sharing his #pinballproject on Twitter and I've been intrigued.  I'm working on the global cardboard challenge and making games with my students and I feel that his project idea, with some modifications, would work really well with my class.  David was kind enough to talk about his process and show a couple of examples with me (from the trunk of his car).  He's given me some food for thought and I appreciate his offer to connect with us when we're ready to move forward.  His enthusiasm is contagious and I can't wait to get started with my class in the new year.

@aforgrave on @105theHive

On Wednesday, I helped Andy Forgrave present about K-12 internet radio 105 the Hive.  We had a morning session with a group of interested educators and then spent the afternoon with drop by visitors in Minds on Media.  I think this is a fabulous tool and I was honoured to work with Andy to share ideas and resources to get others involved in this project.  My experience with this will be discussed further in a separate post as it's really got me thinking.... more to come here, stay tuned.

On Thursday, there were many resources and ideas shared in the sessions that I attended that I need to explore further.  One of those is Integrated Thinking, a topic discussed by Heidi Siwak.  Heidi is an amazing educator doing innovative things. I wish I was a student in her class.  Her lessons on "finding value in bad ideas" and "pro pro model" are great ideas for teaching about perspectives and how different people learn to find value in hearing the opinions of others.  Heidi talks about teaching innovation, creativity, and collaboration - not subjects.  If you don't follow Heidi and her work, I highly recommend checking out her blog.  She will surely inspire you to think differently about your teaching practice.

Ask you shall receive! Gotta love your PLN!

I was sad to leave early, missing the Jam session Thursday night, a session with Royan Lee's former students (I always love when student voices are part of the presentation) on Friday morning, and a panel discussion among some great thinkers about Danah Boyd's "It's Complicated" Friday afternoon.  Thankfully with the use of technology, I can catch it later.  Thanks Andy!

All in all, a jam packed two days at the conference with lots of learning still to come!

Resources shared in various sessions that I want to explore further:
(thanks to Adele Stanfield , Stepan Pruchnicky, Brian Aspinall )

iPad apps - Adobe Voice, Green ScreenTynkerDuolingo, ThingLinkEpic!

Web -

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