Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pete & C Conference

Last week Sharon Geary, Dan Reed, Tom Bowser, and I attended the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE and C) in Hershey, PA. Although we had to cut our trip short due to the impending winter storm, we each attended several excellent sessions and are anxious to share what we've learned with our peers and students.

The conference opened on Monday morning with a dynamic keyknote speaker, Joe Caruso. Joe is the author of The Power of Losing Control. He emphasized that we should take care of what we can control. A couple of his memorable quotes are, "I have power in it, but no control over it." "Bring all you are to what you do. It is all you need." The following quote stuck with me as it came from a student to whom Joe spoke, "Once you connect with us, don't let go!"

Many of the sessions at PETE and C were on Web 2.0 applications such as blogging and wikis and how they can be used to encourage collaboration and sharing of information not only among the students in the classroom but also with people around the world. In fact, I was inspired to start this blog after attending a session on educational blogs!

I was also intrigued by Moodle, a FREE open source course management system similar to Blackboard or WebCT. Moodle allows teachers to set up wikis and blogs for student projects and has many other features. And did I mention that it's free?

We also learned that ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) has released a draft of updated national technology standards for students and is asking for input from the public before adopting the new standards sometime this summer. The standards are being updated for the first time since initially being released in 1998.

These national tech standards will be especially important to us as we implement our EETT grant with the 7th and 8th grades. Through this grant, we must demonstrate that our students are "technology literate" by District standards before they leave the 8th grade. Our assessments must be based on ISTE's national tech standards. Also, through this grant, we must help our students develop the 21st Century Skills they need to be successful in the workplace.

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