I have been fortunate to attend the annual NYSCATE (The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) Conference in Rochester, NY for three consecutive years. I am always amazed that Rochester hosts the biggest educational technology conference in New York State. I am also amazed at the number of people that attend from across NY and beyond. NYSCATE hosts a top notch conference, with excellent keynote speakers, outstanding workshops and presentations for teachers by teachers. This is exactly the type of conference that teachers of all technological experience should attend. There is a little something for everyone.
In my role as Director of Curricular Technology, I love to take in different presentations to see where it might fit into the curriculum at Allendale Columbia School. I would have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to attend a conference like this in my previous position as a kindergarten teacher. This year, I was able to convince a kindergarten teacher to come with me, Erin Eder. We taught kindergarten together for three years. When I worked with Erin, she was a mentor and a friend. Now, the roles are slightly reversed. I am showing her Twitter, Glogster, and helping her with her class website.
After half a day at NYSCATE, Erin and I had a completely different conversation at lunch. The conversation was driven by her and we were immersed in a discussion about how to use technology with her students in new and exciting ways. Several examples we brainstormed were, using Edmodo to flip lessons, digital literacy, internet safety, digital storytelling, embedding interactive media in SMARTNotebook files, and starting a class blog. It’s the type of conversation that every tech person loves to have with teachers. Now she is ready to start implementing these ideas in her classroom. I will happily support her in this endeavor.
Erin also discovered Twitter. This is something that I always expose to teachers as a professional development tool, but in never really clicks until you experience it in the right context. NYSCATE and the conference attendees provided that context for Erin. Special thanks to a few of the folks the the Social Media Kiosk @JimTiffinjr @Ted_Love @ransomtech and @TomWhitby for adding to the conversation!
I was able to attend a session that I found truly entertaining and fun. It was very different than the usual sessions that you expect to find at conferences. It was called “Speed Dating for Techies”. It was hosted by two energetic and passionate educators, Katie Regan and Shari Sloane (#ladygeeks), both paid by their districts to teach english but they also volunteer as technology integrators at their respective schools. Interestingly, they work at different schools but collaborate weekly. They use technology to bridge the gap to explore their common interests and passions, with curriculum and technology use. It was inspiring to chat with people and hear their stories. The structure of the session was like speed dating and gave people 3 minutes to chat, network, and share interests. A “dance card” was used to collect basic information from the people you met, name, passions (education related) and contact information (in most cases a Twitter handle). Katie and Shari did a great job!
Overall, NYSCATE gave me some ideas and energy to return to work. I love being a part of the learning that goes on at this conference. Great job to everyone at NYSCATE for hosting a fantastic conference!