My first ECOO conference was an overwhelming and transforming experience. I have to start by congratulating everyone who worked to pull it all together. From the moment, a couple of months ago, when I stared in disbelief at the voluminous program pages pouring out of my printer, to actually being at the event and having to choose from my long “short list” which sessions to attend, the conference presented an unbelievable wealth of ideas and sharing opportunities.
It was really fun to meet some of the Twitter people I have followed and learned from over the past year or two. And I am SO sorry to have missed others. If I could have somehow cloned myself I know I would have learned so much from @danikabarker and @royanlee. I heard nothing but raves about both workshops. And on that note, @dougpete, I want you to know how many times in the rooms and hallways of the hotel I heard random people asking where you were, if you might be attending later, etc. So many of us look up to you and value your knowledge, insight and support.
It was not until I was on my drive home that I realized what the “Real #ecoo2101” was truly about. I thought back to all of the sessions I had sat through or dropped in on, the conversations around the table at breakfast, break, with Birds of a Feather, or over a drink. In every case, I was talking to a real classroom teacher, not a consultant or educational guru. And not that I haven’t learned from those types of opportunities…
But the idea that those presenters were describing exceptional, transformative strategies that seemed to speak directly to me and hopefully to my students, and were then going back to work with their own classes on Monday… well, that was really inspirational for me.
The ECOO workshops that I attended were:
Remixing History: The Cigar Box Project - Neil Stephenson
Interactive Whiteboards in Math - Wanda de Castro
Don’t Be a Blob, Blog - Jane Smith and Nathan Toft
Learning With Mobile Tech: iPod Touch, iPad - Susan Watt, Kim Gill
Google Earth, Not Just for Geographers - Jane Mitchinson
Motivating Boy Writers - Kent Manning
Online Meetings - Kim McGill
Live Learning with Livescribe - Zoe Branigan-Pipe and the LS Posse ☺
Differentiating Writing Instruction With Web 2.0 - Mary Sue Meredith
For me, it was this last innocuous-sounding session with Mary Sue that was the game changer, or to use my English-major-Matthew-Arnold jargon for one moment – the touchstone for my ECOO 2010 experience. I went in not knowing what to expect, and thinking I might be able to somehow consolidate the many ideas I have about teaching writing in the intermediate grades. Instead, Mary Sue shared with us a wide array of apps that seemed to me pretty much guaranteed to engage middle school students, all tied elegantly back to the big ideas in the curriculum and literature itself, and garnished with many creative prompts for student expression. Wow. Thank you!
I don’t know how to conclude this post other than to say, again, thank you to the organizers, presenters and attendees. Hmmm. Now I guess I have some work to do.
And PS, stay tuned for my report on the Livescribe pen. Yes, it is here and about to be put through its paces!