Monday, March 12, 2012

A day of Learning with Burlington High School - New England 1:1 Summit

On Saturday, March 10th, Burlington High School hosted the New England  1:1 Summit.  I have been following Patrick Larkin, @bhsprincipal, the high school principal for a number of years on Twitter along with his blog.  Patrick has skyped into several of my graduate classes to share his experiences using Twitter as a professional development model and his district's vision for student learning.  I have always admired his passion for learning and sharing his experiences with others.  What was truly impressive was that Patrick was in Florida being recognized while the conference took place. His team of students, teachers, staff, and administrators came together to host an amazing event. He has a staff and team that share his vision, and provided an audience of 500 educators with a day of inspiration!

Burlington High School has a vision; give students what they need to participate in a 21st century educational system.  The day opened with student help desk members greeting educators. They modeled all the real life skills you would expect at a professional conference.  We started the day by using the QR code to scan the agenda.  Once in the auditorium we were met by a student DJ playing music and directing us to the conference hashtag #NE121. 

The BHS staff did an outstanding job presenting, collaborating and sharing their experiences.  The Superintendent, Dr. Eric Conti @ericconti, along with students, technology integration staff, and tech support hosted a wonderful day of learning.  Dr. Conti started and ended many sentences with, my job to support the district technology vision is "to stop staying no".   The audience appeared to love the comment as it was tweeted out throughout the day. I was most struck by the level of enthusiasm of the team.  The single most important thing that they hope to accomplish is to have students engaged in learning.

Many of the sessions focused on cloud computing and the tools used in conjunction with the ipad (Google Docs, Evernote, Dropbox, just to name a few) to support the shift in going paperless.  Another session had the Burlington High School Panel, where students shared their own experience with going 1:1.  The students created a genius bar along with apps modeling after the Apple Genius bar.  Go figure, making real world connections on their own! One of the students indicated that in the past, if he did not know an answer to a questions he was not able to participate, but with an ipad he had access to information at his fingertips.  The students talked about many of the tools they used in the classroom (Glogster, Dropbox, Evernote, Twitter, skype) and many more.  When asked about problems, some of the student indicated the filter/browser slowed thing down, and at times they had "app overload".  I found that amusing because at times I feel there is information and app overload.  

We were given two hours for lunch, which was provided by a local business, B.good barbeque style along with milkshakes.  I was joined my a colleague Craig Sheil @csheil and we decided to host an "app smackdown".  Along with 30 educators, we shared apps that we enjoyed using.  Some of the apps included HeyTell, Flipboard, Quick Graph, Peek, Zite, and Songify just to name a few. It's amazing how much you can learn from others.

After lunch I attended a session hosted by Apple and enjoyed hearing about many of the new tools I have been reading about online, ibooks author , a free new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for the iPadiBooks Author allows you to create great-looking books by adding text, shapes, charts, tables, and Multi-Touch widgets anywhere on the page.  This app will only run on a mac, but can then be uploaded to the new iTunes University as a book.  Apple also talked about textbook publishers books that are also available to purchase and download.

We closed the day back in the auditorium where Patrick joined via Skype with Dr. Conte and answered questions from the audience.  They discussed the iPad rollout, district funding models, and how the District Technology Plan is getting out of the business of saying no and saying yes. Also, Burlington will be working on creating curriculum textbook at the end of June with a workshop opened to all.

The session closed out with trivia and prizes awarded to members of the audience.  If you follow the conference twitter feed #ne121 you can see how much everyone enjoyed the day.

Again, many thanks for sharing you experiences and inspiring so many educators and schools!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today 3/7/2012 is World Read Aloud Day #WRAD - What will you read?

Last year we joined many educators in World Read Aloud Day #WRAD and we were very excited to participate again this year!  Nashoba High School students took turns reading with elementary school students today.
We read online books and used skype to connect  our  students. (Books used: Insect Soup, Little Lost Dog and Little Pink Pup).  We also used twitter (@mmarotta, @tracylandry and nicoletomaselli) to showcase the pictures and links with other educators from around the world.

Both high school and elementary students had a great time reading to each other today.