Alice Barr, Colleen King and I arrived in Philadelphia for Educon 2.0 yesterday at 12:30, having driven down from Massachusetts that morning. (Alice and I got a head start from Maine Thursday night, which helped immensely!) We went straight to the Science Leadership Academy to see the students and teachers in action, which was wonderful. SLA teacher Marcie Hull gave me a tour of the art facilities, including her brightly lit, window lined corner room with gorgeous butcher block tables and stools, a ceramics studio with four wheels, a kiln room with storage, and wonderful art on every vertical surface. I was then able to observe her crowded digital video class, where 30+ students were actively engaged in creating projects, brainstorming, and using iTunes (movies need music, after all) in an energetic cacophony of learning.
As an art teacher, I was interested in some of her resources, including an art text : Exploring Art from McGraw-Hill and the text for her digital video class : Film Making for Teens : Pulling off your shorts by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols With several preps and duties which include instructional technology for the building, these books provide a guide for the direction of the classes which then focus on the projects the students create and the discussion and evaluation of those works by the students themselves.
Just being in Philadelphia is of course a treat. The evening social event at the Franklin Institute was a great opportunity to go to the museum and enjoy the various exhibits, including the Identity exhibit about genetics and nature/nurture concepts of what makes us who we are. We had way too much fun with the station where you could see if your face is symmetrical. Educonners also took a moment to see how tall we were both with, and without, the three-inch heels! The Imax movie of the dinosaurs would make any kid want to be a paleontologist and go dig fossils in Mongolia.
Dinner, despite our wandering around trying to find a place to seat 18 at 8:30 on a Friday night, turned out great. The Asian fusion spot in the hotel turned out to be our best bet, and they were able to seat us ALL right away. The conversation was fast and furious – we are a loud bunch of educators, and we have so much to share! I was soaking up most of it, making mental (and audio recorded) notes on specific tools, websites, and toys that others mentioned. Dennis Richards got the ball rolling at one point where he asked our end of the table to share one new tool we were excited about. I shared my Olympus WS-110 audio recorders (I heard about them on Wes Fryer’s blog) which have served me and my students well over the last three months. Dennis Richards shared Mind42, a mind mapping web app that can be used collaboratively and will save all of the various iterations as you go. I also mentioned the Mac Heist software purchasing opportunity – the iStop Motion and SnapZPro alone made it a deal for me – but apparently the 15 day window is now closed. Next year maybe?. Maria Knee brought up the Snowball Mic, which she just got for her classroom, and a case for the video recorder that I need to ask the name of again. The case makes it possible for the kindergarten students to hold the recorder safely and securely while they use it. There was so much more – I have to do better at taking notes! At least I know the answers are but a tweet away on Twitter, or better yet, just a question away while I enjoy the rest of the f2f conference for the next two days. Check Flickr for pictures from all the attendees tagged educon20.