Thursday, July 25, 2013

Greater Clark Connected Conference

Providing educators the "Tech Java" they needed first thing in the morning, sixth grader Matthew, an eLeader at Oak Hill Elementary School in Evansville, opened #GCCC13. Matthew's "Did You Know?" presentation from the student perspective was declared #EDUawesome! Matthew received a round of applause when he said that kids are tired of testing, and he kept the audience's attention all the way through to his real message, "I'm here to encourage you to be a fearless learner like I am." Before turning over the stage, Matthew assigned conference participants homework. The first task was to begin using Twitter and the second was to provide feedback on a Padlet Matthew created for that purpose. You can watch the talk here thanks to TeacherCAST, that broadcast the morning keynotes.

Matthew's advisor, Delyn Beard introduced him and the work of the eLeaders, which you can learn more about here. Ms. Beard, @delynbeardon Twitter, will be checking the homework Matthew assigned.

Quick to note that they had a hard act to follow, classroom teachers Nicholas Provenzano and Tim Gwynn shared their stories of becoming Connected Educators.  Provenzano, who spoke about his journey from being teacher-centered in the classroom to becoming student-centered, echoed Matthew's opening message adding, "We need to encourage teachers to take risks; to be innovative."  

Gwynn spoke about the benefits he's received from connecting with other educators after first approaching teaching as an independent or "I can do it on my own" kind of learner. The audience enjoyed being privy to Gwynn's 2009 Twitter confessions as he demonstrated his transformation from posting humorous tweets to recognizing the potential of Twitter as a learning tool. He noted the importance of embracing this culture of sharing. "As I become a better professional, my students become better people," Gwynn closed.

Like all of this summer's conferences, GCCC offered strands to organize the learning being offered. Attendees could select from Innovative Learning Models, Learning in a 1:1 Classroom, Nuts and Volts of a 1:1 Classroom, the Digital Tool-belt or Digital Leadership. Choices were difficult and there was a mix of highly popular beginner sessions and smaller, more personalized sessions.  There was no shortage of national and local speakers sharing their learning and modeling connected learning. 

Since The Nerdy Teacher, Nick Provenzano, shared that one of his first "Twitter godparents" was Shelly Terrell, who happened to be at #GCCC13, we decided to learn from her too. Her session "Sharing Stories: Powerful Lessons in Digital Storytelling" was hands-on. She walked participants through creating a story cube using resources you can access in her presentation Google Doc. Shelly cautioned that students may be hesitant to engage with these types of activities in the classroom because they've not historically had opportunities to be creative in this way at school. She talked about our responsibility for showing students how learning is all around them and how technology makes sharing that learning possible.

Congratulations to Brett Clark and his Greater Clark team for organizing their first regional conference!

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