Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Detroit Airport on 3/12/2014
This week I am attending and presenting in Grand Rapids, MI at the MACUL conference.  It is a terrific conference.  It is much bigger than I expected.  I believe the total attendance is around 4800.  I am presenting with my good friend and colleague, Tim Wilhelmus.  We had quite a snowy trip from Indiana as we made our connection in Detroit, but the conference has been a great learning experience.

Today's keynote was the founder of edutecher and educlipper, Adam Bellow, who always does a terrific job.  He began with a slide of a chalkboard that read, "School Sucks!" He completed the sentence with "the fun out of learning."  He talked about how Google Glass is going to be common place for the students that we are teaching today.  As adults we are amazed about what they can do, but to the kids, it is going to be part of their life.  He showed a great student made video from the White House Film Festival.  It is very inspirational and it would probably be best if you watched it.  I am afraid my description would not do it justice.  Here is the link: PIP: White House Film Festival. He talked about how we need to enable passion in our students, ignite learning and make them want to explore and be curious.  No student ever has run home with a Scantron sheet and showed their parents what they learned that day.  We need to enable students to make their own quest.  We want them to question, think, and act.  Students need to be creating and not just consuming.  We need to make education more personable for our students.  Teachers should not be afraid of the unknown or let it stop them.  Some of his final words were that we need to individualize and not standardize!
Keynote Adam Bellow and me

Tim and I had a short conversation with Tom Whitby, creator of edchat, after the keynote session.  He had some great words of wisdom as he talked with Tim and me.  He said that "Learning is not about the technology.  We as educators need to decide what our students need to learn and choose the correct tools for the learning.  It may or may not include technology."  He is exactly right.  Technology shouldn't be something we just throw out there.  It isn't moving paper to pdf documents.  It should be used as a tool to enhance and assist the learning to take place.

I then went to a session on tools for reading and writing that was led by Nicholas Provenzano, also known as, the Nerdy Teacher.  He shared some great tools.  Some I had seen and some that I had not.  The list included, where you can create word clouds in various shapes that can go along with the the words you paste in.  You can use Padlet for class discussions or share thoughts to questions.  Storybird can be used to create books.  Even high school students could be challenged to write a "good" children's book.  He gave a link for visual writing promptsTwitter could be used to correct professional athlete's grammar.  What a great bell ringer, right?  My favorite take away from his session was to have a teacher pair up with a teacher in another school district.  They should teach the same units, novels, etc... at the same time.  Once a week or so, have the students Skype or Blog with the other class and discuss what they learned on the subjects.  Perhaps one class got something out of reading a novel that the other class didn't see or think about.  I thought that was a great idea and really enjoyed the session.

I also attended a terrific session led by Leslie Fisher.  She is always full of energy and puts on a terrific presentation.  Her topic was on tips for taking photos and videos with your mobile device.  She talked about having good lighting,  how to avoid shadows, and choosing the right equipment for the job.  She explained the difference between optical and digital zoom.  Optical zoom actually moves the lens closer to your subject, but digital zoom just blows it up and can cause ugly pixelation.  She demonstrated several photo and video apps.  I have not checked all of them out yet, but when I do, I will provide the list with some instruction and explanation.  I am not sure that all of my  notes are spelled correctly.  This will give you something to look forward too.  If you get a chance to attend MACUL, they alternate between Grand Rapids and Detroit, I highly recommend it.  I would come again for sure!

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