Going Home Already?

So, here I am sitting in the airport in San Antonio. It's a bittersweet feeling, leaving a city and conference as great as NECC 2008 was. As soon as I got to the airport, I felt the need for coffee. Great, they only have Starbucks (not a Starbucks fan). Oh, wait, there's a Dunkin' Donuts here, too! Awesome. I get a French vanilla coffee and chocolate glazed donut, then notice the sign that says "Grand Opening July 8, 2008." I guess that'll be the celebration. Not sure how many people will come to the airport to celebrate, especially since they'll have to get a plane ticket!

I can't believe how many ideas I got from this conference, with the biggest ideas being for using cell phones in my classes. I cannot wait to see how this experiment will work, and I hope it will encourage others to see the possibilities this technology gives teachers. There are so many teachers that I know that are complaining they want cell phones and iPods banned. Why? Is it so bad that kids listen to music while working on a worksheet? I listen to music while I'm working all the time. And if you're worried about kids cheating by texting answers on their cells, then maybe you're not testing for the right things. No offense, but if I'm only writing a date or identifying a participle (not that I remember what they are) or writing down a memorized formula, am I really being assessed on what I know, or trivial facts I can remember?

True, there are benefits to training ourselves to remember some of these things, and it really does make many higher-order thinking problems easier to deal with. But if I need to know the date of a certain event, can't I just look it up? Shouldn't I be learning how to find the information that I need when I need it and how to analyze it to create something new or solve some problem?

Now, does this mean that we should let kids use textbooks and all resources for tests and quizzes? By all means, no. But it it something to think about when designing assessments and how you're going to deliver content.

In my district, there will be three of us teaching our Advanced Algebra courses. The original plan was to have us all collaborate to create materials to use for this year so we're all delivering roughly the same content. However, I didn't really join in on it, as I don't think I buy into it. I know I won't be teaching the class the same in April as I will be in September. And I won't be teaching it the same as I did two and three years ago. I know what I need to cover. I know what the kids need to learn. But I don't know what new methods and technologies I will be using, so it's time to try new things (again).

Over the next two months, I will be visiting the NECC page to see all of the podcasts and videos that were made available. It's like the never ending conference, and it's great! Between reading what other conference-goers have experienced and communicating with them through twitter, Plurk, email, Skype, etc., I have just enlarged my PLN to a point where the learning will not end.

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