EdTech ’08 Reflections Part 2

More from Thursday:

I forgot to mention the fun I had last night at dinner with Cathy Nelson, Jessica Donaldson, Chris Craft and Fran Bullington at the Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery – after Chris made us walk all the way around Broadway at the Beach!  Not that I minded, too much, as I don’t believe I’ve ever visited there at night.  It was neat to see the lights and walk over the bridges.  And I got a kick out of watching Chris get so excited about feeding the fish.  Those were some HUGE fish – they were even biting the ducks!  Of course, I also teased him about the idea that you’re supposed to work OFF a meal, not work up to a meal!

From the “Encouraging Reading Through Technology” session I wanted to expand more on my notes regarding the “Senior Athletes Read” program.  The READ posters/trading cards are of only senior student athletes.  The posters are displayed around the school and at the games.  Their school has a specific block/period during the school day (4th block?) for athletic practice.  During this block, the coaches have made arrangements for the athletes to read to elementary classes.  The media specialists design the posters and trading cards and photograph the students.  The posters are printed on an HP Designjet printer and are laminated.  Other items I failed to mention include banners promoting reading are paraded during pep rallies “Win, Fight, Read” or something like that.  Another program was their book club – they read The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson and invited their local coroner to participate & talk about her job. Resources on their handout:


I did decide to sleep in an extra hour!  So there were only two sessions I attended; however, both were excellent and ended EdTech on a high note.

Reaching Out Beyond the Walls: Distance Learning for Everyone – presented by John Woodring.  Despite some technical difficulties with the Internet access, this was an interesting session using Wiziq for distance training/meetings.  I’ve been toying with learning a system (preferably free) that we can use in our district media specialist association to provide access to our meetings/workshops for folks who can’t make it in person to our meetings.  Despite the technical difficulties, I found it interesting to chat with folks he’s been collaborating with.

Using Excel for More Than Spreadsheets! – presented by Donna Goldsmith from the SC Department of Education.  She showed examples of using Excel for interactivity in the classroom.  This session was awesome and Donna was a blast.  I so would have loved to have been in her classroom as a kid (or adult!)  Since she said her materials would be on the EdTech website, I didn’t take notes; however, as of right now they are not there.  I’ve emailed her for copies and would be happy to forward them on once I get them.

I will say the items she showed were real “wow” as well as “duh” moments for me.  For example: inserting a map of the US as the background (turning off the grid lines) then using comments to enter the state name/capitals (making sure to resize the columns and rows really small).  You could also put a picture of any diagram (cell structure, disection photo, etc.) of anything you want to label and use comments and/or create a matching type worksheet.  DUH! moment for me.

I didn’t stick around for the Luncheon.  Mom and I had a nice lunch at Margaritaville and did a little more shopping and walked around The Gay Dolphin before heading back to the condo.  You can see more of the photos my Mom snapped while we were in Myrtle Beach on my Flickr Photostream.

Saturday we had an early breakfast (well early for me since I don’t usually get up unil well after 10am if I’m on vacation or weekends) and checked out of the condo.  We stopped at the 501 Tanger outlets, had lunch, and headed on home.  Since we were passing by the Sumter Outlet mall, we just had to stop – boy is it NOT worth the stop.  There were only like 8 stores, but Mom could have stayed there and spent some money at the Antiques store.  We got home after dark and couldn’t bring outselves to empty out the car.  Spent all day Sunday unpacking and getting organized for today.  Since there was no food in the house we headed into Orangeburg to the IHOP!  Pecan Coffee Cake Pancakes, YUM! So, another fall vacation has come and gone.  Time to get back to work.

PS:  Oooh, reminder for everyone to plan for the Upstate Technology Conference: “Teach Tomorrow Today,” June 23 – 25, 2009.  The Call for Presentations is open.

Window on the World

Bill Gaskins over at Blogging on the Bay, who (or is it whom?) I had the opportunity to meet and chat with this past week at EdTech, has asked for photos of the view from your window.  Since I’ve been unpacking and organizing all the stuff I have to take back to school tomorrow, I haven’t had an opportunity to take a photo from home yet.  However, I have sent him the photo you see here of the beautiful sunset on our last night in Myrtle Beach, as seen from our condo balcony.  It was a lovely send off to an enjoyable vacation/conference week.  I have a few more scenic photos posted to my Flickr Photostream.

I still have more EdTech conference notes and vacation reflections to post, but those will have to wait for another day.  For now, let me just ask you to please take a moment to snap a picture of what you see from your window and email it (along with a brief description) to wcgaskins.59@gmail.com.

Myrtle Beach Days!

Not to make anyone jealous, but I’ve actually not been to work all week.  *grin*  I’ve been enjoying the nice (well it WAS nice) weather over here in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Each year I take the week off of school to come vacation for a few days and then attend the EdTech Conference.

Mom and I arrived in Myrtle Beach on Saturday, and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to drive/arrive.  Yes, you read right, my Mom comes with me each year – hey, she lets me use her time share exchange so I don’t have to pay for a hotel!  The least I can do is let her tag along and be her chauffeur for her shopping excursions.  Such a hardship on my part isn’t it?  Sunday was an equally beautiful day; however, Monday through Wednesday it rained.

This year, to save my school/self money, I became a full-time volunteer for EdTech in order to receive free registration – all I have to do is attend assigned sessions and scan peoples badges for those wanting to receive recertification credit.  How cool is that?!  The beauty is that I was assigned almost (if not all) of my first choices in sessions.  Gotta love those EdTech folks!  I also helped stuff conference bags Tuesday night.  Let me tell you, those EdTech folks are a hoot!  I never thought I’d have fun stuffing bags.

Anyway, as a way to 1) prove to folks (sic principal) I did attend sessions, 2) have a record of my notes for referral, and 3) share what I’ve learned with you guys, I’ll once again post my notes and thoughts about my conference experiences.  So here goes:


Your 2.0 Sandbox: Come Play and Learn – presented by my good friend Cathy Nelson.  I hadn’t planned on attending any sessions on Wednesday, but since it was for Cathy, I of course volunteered to facilitate!  As always, I had fun.  I also enjoyed going to lunch with MaryAnn Sansonetti, Julia Davis, Jessica (sorry, can’t remember your last name!), Cathy, and Chris Craft.  MaryAnn sure loves hush puppies!

SC Online Resources – presented by Catherine Giddens from SC Department of Education – focus was on online professional development opportunities for South Carolina teachers.  They also mentioned Thinkfinity.org (formerly MarcoPolo) and DISCUS.

I was invited to attend a DEN dinner by three different people (thanks guys!) and got to hear more about OnePlaceSC and the great services Discovery Education provides.  My whole lunch group was there along with some other folks I know (in person or by reputation) and I’m seriously considering applying to be a DEN STAR Educator.


Today I had a full schedule of sessions to work/attend.  The day started with a bang, started to peeter our, but then finished on a high note for me.

Encouraging Reading Through Technology: Ideas on How to Promote YA Books – Presented by CayLen Whitesides and Robin Mitchell from York Comprehensive High School

Awesome session!  Well worth getting up early to attend.  Here are my notes:

  • Use Photostory Booktalks (written/performed by students) as part of their independent novel projects.
  • Put message on the marque outside the school (at the road) “Read More Books” so passerby’s are reminded to read, too!  In our case, we’d put this on our internal message board.
  • Senior Athletes Read: The media specialists create READ posters of the high seniors to post around the schools.  The seniors choose the book they want to be photographed with and the location of the photo shoot.  The media specialists also created “trading cards” of the seniors with the READ photo/poster, team name, student name, and jersey number on the front.  The back contains their stats: graduation year, position, height, weight, AND FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK.
  • In conjunction with the Senior Athletes Read, the school’s COACHES organize the student athletes to go to the elementary school to read to the youngsters.  They hand out their trading cards to the kids (’cause to the elem kids, the high school students are their heroes just as college and pro athletes are our kids heroes)  Of course, their school has a block (or in our school, a class period) assigned as athletic practice.
  • Author cards – similar to their senior trading cards, but the front is the picture of a book and the back contains the authors webpage, a couple of other titles, and just a bit about the author.
  • Book flyers – picture of the book, summary, and other titles.
  • Book PowerPoints – cover of book, book summary, StreamlineSC (United Streaming to non-South Carolinian’s) video clips for relevant info (example, for The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti they included a clip about elephants and another about teen panic attacks.)
  • But the best of the best (for me – and a “duh” moment) was the idea of using a digital picture frame as a literacy promoter.  They save their PPT slides as jpegs and load them to the digital picture frame to highlight whatever they are promoting – be it a single title, an author spotlight, a genre’ spotlight, etc.  She also stated they wrote a grant to pay for purchasing them!  How cool!  [An audience member stated that they now make digital photo frames that play MP3 and/or .avi files.]

Cool Free Tech Tools for Teacher Use – Presented by Michael Edwards from Pelion High School

Presenting freeware products that could be useful in classrooms.  The majority of the items are “games” that he created himself using Mediator software.  I would link to them, but don’t have his permission.  If I obtain permission, I’ll update this post.  The tools he shared include: Cool Timer, TI Flash Debugger, Random Student Picker, Jeopardy 3/4, Adventures in Learning, Koosh Ball Kraze 1 & 2, Trivial Pursuit, President Squares, Think Link, Wheel of Knowledge, Beat The Clock, Seen it: Physical Science Edition.

Apple – Engaging Learners with Innovative Technologies – presented by Janice Adams – showed us some tips and applications in Mac OS X – Leopard.  Included: dictionary app, widget feature in Safari, calculators (standard, scientific, programmers) and Grapher (graphing calculator app).  There were more, but I can’t recall them right now.

The next session I went to was horrible and I won’t embarrass the presenter by documenting it here.  The name for the session was a TOTAL misdirection and if I hadn’t been assigned to scan recert cards, I would have walked out.

Is There a “Second Life” for teachers and students? – presented by Gary Senn.  I’m a total beginner with the whole Second Life phenom.  I had already created an avatar (Sayrah Glazner), and finally was able to get off of the Intro Island prior to the session.  This session was good for me in learning more about how to move around/interact and for places to visit in SL for educators.  I was too busy trying to manuver w/in the program to take notes.  I still don’t know/believe there is a place for SL in my school (or any school), but I had fun learning more about SL.

Overall, today was a good learning day.  I hope tomorrow will be, too!  Somehow, the EdTech folks forgot to assign me to an 8am session, so I’m thinking of sleeping in another hour before heading out to the convention center. Think anyone will miss me?  Of course, the sessions all look like vendor pitches, so I don’t think I’ll miss out on anything…no money or clout to purchase their stuff!

***Note to me for things to bring next year:  a power strip!  I was surprised to see how many people brought laptops.  I’d say the number trippled or quadruppled over last year.  In most sessions there are only one or two power plugs and you have to get there early if you want to plug up or recharge your batteries.