So I’ve been absent from the blogging world since last summer. I have been knee deep in several projects that have demanded my full attention this fall and into this spring. The first project being finishing up my masters. Graduation is set for this coming Saturday, May 15th and I can’t wait to get my diploma and walk the stage. I am a soon-to-be-graduate of Loyola University with a Masters in Educational Technology. Another project I have had in the works is becoming a mom and starting a family with my husband. We are excited to welcome our little one to the world later this summer. Both projects have kept me busy, exhausted, and with very little free time on my hands for blogging and other self-indulges like reading a book for pleasure.
So, now I’m back. Hopefully for good! Only time will tell. =)
On Friday April 30th, I attended the MSET, formerly MICCA, conference at the Baltimore Convention Center. This is my third time attending and I felt like an old pro as I was able to quickly and effectively park my car (for only $8 for the day I might add), take the covered walkway over to the Convention center and get checked in. I had already taken a look at the sessions on the MSET website so I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to attend.
Unfortunately because the conference was held on a Friday and a Saturday I was only able to attend Friday. The keynote on Friday was disappointing to me. I thought I would enjoy it much more as Dr. Zhao was speaking to the difference between American education and other Asian countries. The focus seemed to be more on high school education reform and less on elementary school. The room was standing room only so after standing for a little bit and not getting much out of it, I ended up retreating to the lobby and gearing up for my sessions. Below is a run down of what I did next:
Session 1: Tech4Learning Booth – This year I didn’t present for Tech4Learning, but I spent some time helping Scott Loomis out at the Tech4Learning booth. He had some great new examples that he was sharing with fellow teachers on some of the new and exciting things that can be done with Pixie. One of them was making mini-books. I was so excited by it that I just this week used the template he shared to make my 4th graders Geometry projects into a mini book. I also got to see first hand a little of the workings of Frames. I have a copy that I received from Scott last year but have never used loaded it onto my computer. After seeing some of the options, I may have to remedy that situation. =)
Session 2: 50 NEW ways to use Discovery Education – This session was packed with information. So much that we didn’t even get through all 50 ways! During this session we started to see the limitations of the wireless network at MSET. It was awful for presenters that spent so much time creating web-based presentations and then had to stand there and struggle when the Internet was not cooperating. Matt Monjan from Discovery Education did a great job powering through though! Kudos to him! My 3 favorites were: 1. Using images in conjunction with Blabberize. Students can write stories from the perspective of the person, thing, or place and have their picture come alive with a moving mouth created through Blabberize. 2. Recording your own narration for video segments. This is great for lower level students. You can easily pull editable clips into iMovie and rerecord your own narration. Use different vocabulary. Make it serious, make it silly, it’s up to you! and 3. I loved the songs that are now included within Discovery Education. Lots of great songs that can be downloaded and then added into PowerPoint or other applications for use with students. He showed us an example of counting by 12’s. =) If you want to see more of the great new ways, you can download the presentation.
Lunch – I had a great lunch of crab cake and pub fries at a restaurant across the street with Laura Hook, a tech teacher from Lisbon, and Debbie Tarash, the media specialist from Guilford. We enjoyed being outside on their back patio in the sunshine. Most of the conversation had nothing to do with school or technology however there was some work thrown in here and there.
Poster Session Perusal – I had an opportunity to see a few of the poster sessions. Most of the poster sessions were awarded grants of $700 to fund part or all of their project. I really enjoyed seeing Lorraine Quinn, tech teacher from Bellows Spring and her Lego Robotics demonstration. Definately got my “gears” thinking about next year.
Session 3: Using VoiceThread to Inspire Conversation Beyond the Classroom – This session was probably the most disappointing to me. I really wanted to walk away with some samples that I could view later on and spark my imagination. Unfortunately due to lack of Internet we spent too much time getting logged in and little to no time actually seeing some examples. I did however, start to reflect on how I could incorporate VoiceThread into my lessons. The more I thought about it the more it fit with my 4th graders. Since writing and communication are high on the priority list in that grade, I think that the potential of VoiceThread will offer these students the greatest benefits.
Session 4: Internet Safety: Don’t Preach, Empower – This session was offered by someone from the Archdiocese, so needless to say it was very religious in nature. Not to mention she started off her presentation by telling the audience that she her employment with her employer was terminated that morning. The links she offered were some old favorites and a few new ones that I have enjoyed exploring more independently. I posted the links on my Del.icio.us page.
All in all I found this years MSET conference to be productive, dispite the disappointments and I learned some new and exciting things that I’m eager to share on my Web 2.0 blog and with my students. After my last graduate class with it’s differing opinions and views of technology in education, I needed the MSET conference to get me motivated and energized for my job. But with only 6 more weeks with students I doubt I will get all of my ideas accomplished but plans are definitely in the works for next school year!