Friday, April 17, 2009

Blue Ribbon School Conference, Reading MA - April 16-17th

I had the opportunity to attend a Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence conference today in Reading, MA.
Blueprint for Educational Excellence National Institute Attendees
Reading, MA

On day one, we had the opportunity to visit elementary, middle, or high school classrooms and see first hand how teachers use 21st century technology. Here is a video from the opening session video that may inspire you.

I was very impressed to see so many teachers on the same page using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. The new building was beautiful, with every room equipped with SMARTboards.

I asked the Reading teachers how all of this was possible. The teachers were part of a year long PD graduate class, "Expanding the Boundaries of Teaching and Learning" which was delivered by the district's Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, John Doherty. It is obvious that the administration simply "gets it". Mr. Doherty is part of a doctorate program, and was able to deliver a course to 40+ teachers, using blogs, wikis, google docs, twitter and more. The teachers and students focus was collaboration. One of the teachers indicatesd this came together because of districts leadership and ability to get everyone on board.

Here are some of the topics covered in the conference:

Teaching Diverse Students
Social theoretical concepts that will help explain the needs of diverse students and suggest teaching strategies to benefit all children.

SMART Content Creation
SMART Board interactive whiteboard users learn skills to design and create highly interactive lessons in Notebook v.10.

New reading instruction models and best practices for promoting a strong foundation of skills and strategies.

Integrating technology and 21st Century Skills
Expand the boundaries of teaching and learning by understanding 21st century technology applications, such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts

Successful classroom applications
We visited high performing classrooms and the teachers shared lesson plans, activities, technology applications, and programs targeting successful educational initiatives.

I attended a workshop delivered by a group of teachers on blogs, wikis, ustream, google docs and twitter. Here is the seminar wiki

Day two was kicked off by Will Richardson once again a very inspiring keynote. If you have not seen Will present, make a point of checking out his blog and wiki.

The Reading School System, teachers, administration and students did an outstanding job sharing their success with over 200 teachers from other districts. I am grateful I had the opportunity to see firsthand a school district make use of advanced technologies in the classroom.

I learned about a new technique called backchannel (Knittechat) which creates a transcript of the session.

Knitter is an XHTML live chat based on the XMLHttpRequest ObjectKnitter is an experiment in the use of backchanneling in instructional settings. It was developed by David warlick, using opensource code created by ... I loved how the audience was connected to each other an commenting while David was presenting. I notice he was using a new presentation tool and the chat discussed that he was using Prezi ... so much to learn...

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