I am an elementary school media specialist (librarian) and a new mom. My daughters (born 12/27/2010 and 6/27/2013) are teaching me all kinds of new things every day. One thing they have taught me is that sometimes, there just isn't room for much else besides learning. If you're not sleeping, eating, talking, blogging, or whatever, it might just be because you're TOO BUSY LEARNING!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Raising Achievement & Closing Gaps Conference: Day 2

What I really want to do is post about American Idol, but check me out on Twitter for that story. Moving right along...

Session #1: Establishing Relationships to Raise Academic Achievement of All Students

I really loved the presenters because they were a husband-and-wife team nearing 80 years old, and they were very passionate about it. And I was very excited about the material at first. It had to do with identifying personality types, which is something that makes a sucker out of me every time; I love that stuff. However, the more I thought about their presentation, the more I thought that it was really just a lot of best practices repackaged in a cute format. Now, if cute is what it takes to reach students, I'm all for it! But basically what they were saying is that we need to build relationships with kids and teach for multiple learning styles. Got it.

Session #2: Warnings, Warnings, Warnings... How Many is Enough?

Bordering on excruciating, the presenter was basically giving a 45-minute sales pitch for her discipline program. And the thing is, her "program" is just a rather clumsy conglomerate of a bunch of strategies we all learning in undergrad classes. The program might be good for lateral entry folks though. Maybe. One who shall remain nameless was sitting near me tweeting presentation "don'ts" throughout.

Session #3: Engage Students Using High-Tech and Low-Tech Tools for Teaching Visual Literacy

My favorite of the day. A couple of staffers from LEARN NC showed us some cool resources and talked a bit about visual literacy in the classroom. I haven't been a big LEARN NC user before now, but I may have to start.

Some Links I Need to Explore:

Especially in the last session, I heard about some really cool stuff. Here you go:
  • The Commons on Flickr: Really awesome photo database pulling from organizations like The Library of Congress (only Flickr is a lot easier to use than the LC web page, believe me).
  • Wikimedia Commons: Another free database, this time for all media types.
  • Instructify: A blog by the LEARN NC people that looks fairly promising. Focus on instructional technology, and looks like some good tech hacks for the classroom.
  • The Dream Teacher: This is really from yesterday, but it's a link, so I'm putting it here. This is Cindi Rigsbee's blog.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Raising Achievement & Closing Gaps Conference: Day 1

Thoughts and Happenings:

1. Someone should come up with a better name for the conference.

2. My old principal from Riverside HS, Mrs. Peebles, now works as a bigwig at the Department of Public Instruction.

3. I sat in a focus session for three hours without getting even one practical idea to take back and implement at my school. Not even one. I always get great ideas at library conferences. What gives?

4. All presenters who use lapel mics should be forced to sit through a lapel mic training session so that they know not to hold the whole unit right next to their mouths, thereby giving participants raging headaches from the excruciating volume level and amplification of presenter's bodily functions such as breathing and swallowing.

5. Cindi Rigsbee, North Carolina Teacher of the Year (and National Teacher of the Year Finalist!), spoke at the opening session, which was cool. She taught my brother in middle school. The truth was confirmed when she mentioned that her new shoes were "bo-bos," according to her students, which is a term I learned from my brother when he was in middle school.

6. I'm pretty sure "conferees" is not a word, although it is I suppose an attempt at cleverly shortening the term "conference attendees." Mostly though, it's annoying and not particularly clever.

7. "21st Century Learning" continues to be a buzz-phrase. If we're so concerned about it, WHY ARE WE CUTTING MEDIA ASSISTANTS AND TECHNOLOGY TEACHERS IN GUILFORD COUNTY? WHY?? WHY??? Ahem. Sorry. I feel strongly about that.

8. Also, a recurring theme is that in order to close gaps, children need equitable access to resources. I'll tell you what, I just finished writing four enormous papers involving equitable access to resources. Guess where a lot of the resources are: THE LIBRARY. Guess how students gain equitable access to many of those resources: THE LIBRARY STAFF. So, again, WHY ARE WE CUTTING THEIR JOBS??? Ahem. Sorry again.

9. No vendors. What? No vendors means no free stuff and no door prizes and no teachers buying vendors' stuff. No vendors is bad news for everyone.

10. If I'm in your hotel for a conference, you should give me free wifi, whether I actually booked a room or not.