Finds of the Week: February 15-19

Starting tomorrow, the annual Pennsylvania Educational Technology Exposition and Conference (PETE&C) will be going on in Hershey, PA at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. This conference is the state conference on educational technology and the precursor to the international conference ISTE 2010, formerly NECC. On Saturday, there will be preconference sessions for Instructional Technology Coaches (formerly CFF Coaches), followed by preconference sessions for anyone to attend (pre-registered, pre-paid), including sessions hosted right here at Annville-Cleona Secondary School.

The real conference begins Monday morning with an opening keynote from Sir Ken Robinson. The remainder of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday will be days full of conference sessions, connecting with colleagues, interacting with vendors, and some great discussions on education and technology integration. Here are some ways that you can follow along with the conversations.

1. Cover it Live - Cover it Live is a way for people to collaborate from anywhere on any type of presentation or event. You might see that many sites are using Cover it Live during Olympics coverage so people can discuss the events as they go on.

For Cover it Live, if you are going to use it, you will first need to create an account. From there, the options open up for you. Many users embed their Cover it Live sessions into a blog, website, or wikispace. As an example, many of the session I will be sitting in will be on my personal professional blog so I can carry on the conversation with more people, especially those that either may not be able to make it to PETE&C, or with those in other sessions that are interested in the information.

Others will use Cover it Live during faculty meetings or classes to allow for a backchannel to occur to extend upon the conversations that are taking place, which also allows for everyone to have more of a chance to get their say in.

2. #hashtags - Many educators have joined twitter to help improve their own instruction by collaborating with other educators from around the world in what are known as Professional Learning Networks, or PLNs. To help find each other and to find information that they would like to share, they use what are known as hashtags, which are very similar to tags you make when using social bookmarking.

For example, every Tuesday, large groups of educators talk about various educational topics in what has become to be known as EdChat, and the hashtag #edchat is used so all can follow the conversation without having to follow the individuals in the conversation. It is similar to being able to enter a room at a conference, talking with people you have never met before, having your conversation, and then leaving, never to speak again until the next conference.

If you want to find information from a hashtag, there are many ways to do so. The most common way is to use twitter, as the use of hashtags has become a prevalent practice among users, but it is not the only way. You can also enter the hashtag you want to follow at hashtags.org, or enter the hashtag in a Google search. Google has realized the high use of the tool, and have included a live result feature in their searches. To follow what is going on at PETE&C, the hashtag is #petec2010.

3. Rubrics - I couldn't complete a blog post without a resource for you to use in your classroom. Rubrics are tools that we all use to allow for students to know what is expected of them on projects and assessments.

Rubistar is probably the most widely-known and widely-used rubric creator, but it is not the only one. With Rubistar, you create a sign in and work on creating rubrics from a template. They have sample assessors, or you can create your own. Once completed and saved, each rubric can be assigned a number so anyone can access it at a later point in time. Enter the code 1752791 under "Go To a Saved Rubric" to see a sample of one I created. Rubistar is fairly easy to use, and they have a great tutorial as to how to use their tool.

RCampus is another tool that allows for free creation of rubrics. This site even allows you to pull in rubrics you currently have to edit them. Again, it is free, but you do need to register. There are tons of sample rubrics, separated by grade level, subject, and type. They also have tutorial videos for how to better use their service.

Want even more rubric builders? Then check out teAchnology for a list of rubric builders. You can even use teAchnology as a rubric builder, with either a 4-point system or under a custom rubric.

Pay attention to this space next week as I share the things I see from PETE&C.

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