Connect 2014

Good Evening all,

Last Thursday and Friday was the Connect 2014 Conference in Niagara Falls. I went with Jen, Joey, Joy and John. Apparently, you had to have a “J” name. The accommodations were very nice. Ask Joy how many baths she had. We had a good time and learned a lot.

The most important thing I learned is that we are way ahead of almost everyone else when it comes to : tech devices, infrastructure, application and advanced use of the tech in the classroom. If fact, we ( the J’s and I) have started talking about being one of the presenters for next year. I think that we could take a small contingent down next year and put together a “hands-on” presentation that would be for teachers who want some practical help with an iPad integrated classroom. That was certainly missing in this conference.

In one presentation, Jen and I could hardly contain ourselves. I wanted to go up and take over for the presenter. We offered our insights into Showbie and Baiboard, but they were not anywhere near what you guys are doing in your classrooms.

I was most interested by three presentations. The first was a teacher from Moose Jaw, Sask. She took the leap and changed her approach from the traditional classroom to the hi-tech supported, student-driven classroom. She described her students work with schools in Nigeria and their construction of a Holocaust museum. How they raised money online and made connections over three continents. Very cool stuff.

The second was a presentation by a company called “Promethean”. It is an internet-based student work-flow tool that has features of Showbie, Nearpod and SmartNotebook, all roles into one. We can discuss running some free pilots with phase 1 teachers, at our May 22nd meeting.

The final favourite for me was the one on the use of Minecraft as a tool for student instruction. We were asked to see Minecraft as a tool. The teacher would, for example, ask students to write about their pans before entering the game. The would then work collaboratively to build various structures, as guided by the teacher. I particularly liked the Robert Frost poem assignment where students were each given a line in a poem and a lot on the virtue road not travelled. They then had to guid a structure that represented the line of the poem. Very powerful. They then left the program and wrote a log about their progress.

A good conference with lots to think about.

There is also another conference in November (proposal pending) and Dean (your Apple pal) suggested another in Florida in February. I invite the insights of the J’s and questions by those of you who didn’t join us.

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