Sunday, March 9, 2008

Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference

On March 7 and 8, I had the good fortune of attending the third annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning in NYC. This was the second time I attended. Last year started me on the wild journey into teaching in the 21st century, thanks to a session with Alan November. Also, last year, Christine Southard (my co-teacher) and I saw the Chase Multimedia in the Classroom award winners and said we would win this year. And we did, for our Comparing Hemispheres wiki created with Allanah King's New Zealand class. Winning meant, among other things, receiving free tickets for this year's Celebration (worth $450). So we were back.

This conference is so amazing. It is sponsored by Channel 13 (a public service channel here in NY), PBS, and Chase. It entailed two packed days - 8:30 - 5ish - of presentations, classes, round table discussions, and exhibitions. There were incredible people there. We heard
Dr. Jane Goodall and Jean-Michel Cousteau speak about the damage we are doing to our
planet. We watched a panel discussion led by Judy Woodruff regarding America's Schools in the 21st Century. Among the powerful people she questioned was Elliot Spitzer (NY Governor). Later, Maria Hinojosa led a discussion on Women in Education. Some more powerful people were here, including Johanna Duncan-Poitier, the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education in NYS. We viewed winning videos from Adobe's Youth Voices and saw the documentary 2 Million Minutes, about the 2 million minutes spent in high school in three different countries. I could go on and on and on.

So here are some highlights:

Will Richardson: He was one of the main reasons I was so excited to attend. I learned so much from him. I have pages and pages of notes (there was no internet service so I wrote everything). He made some great points - "We are raising kids to use keyboards and mice when they won't have keyboards and mice in the future." "Literacy is maleable." "(Speaking of Wikipedia) We have to get over the idea that we can't let kids go somewhere because the information might be wrong." "If we do not teach kids MySpace, how to leverage it and use it well, we are not preparing them for the future."

My biggest take: "Tap into the wisdom of people out there." We are not experts in everything. But with today's technology, it is so easy to connect with the experts and bring them into your classroom. I spent the rest of the conference collecting contact information from experts.

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Michael Pritchard: This motivational speaker discussed using laughter and heart to reach children. I again took pages of notes, wrote a ton of quotes, and was very moved and inspired. Among my favorites: "Hurting people hurt people. Sharing the pain divides the pain." "It's not the bullies who hurt us the most. It is our friends who don't stand up for us." -Martin Luther King, Jr. "It's not the package we arrive in. It's the product that's packed inside."

My Biggest Take: Responsive Classroom and Morning Meetings really is important. Take time to learn who your children are outside of school and you will find it easier to reach them in school.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: He has a new PBS show coming on April 2 and April 9. Watch it. We are all interconnected and must relearn how to live with nature not against it. And we must learn quickly.

Jane Goodall: Her program, Roots and Shoots, teaches children to run projects in their community. Three projects - one to help humans, one to help animals, and one to help the environment. Worth checking out.

Dr. Majora Carter: She is the founder of Sustainable South Bronx. She runs a program called Green the Ghetto. She can be found on TedTV. You must find out what she is doing. And get inspired!

There were more presenters but I have written enough for now. Just a quick note:

My student
s, as winners of the Chase award, were given passes to the conference. They came on Saturday afternoon. They loved Jean-Michel Cousteau, the PBS television characters wandering around, and the BrainPop exhibit. (We love BrainPop!) They got to be on tv a few times. The show, which is basically the conference itself, will air on PBS on April 29 and 30 (my birthday! great present!).

But, probably the best for the students was meeting one of the presenters. David Warlick was being interviewed in the exhibit hall and we stopped him and asked him to say hello. He was probably rushed for time, all made up for the interview he just gave, and most likely tired from all the traveling he had been doing the past few days.

But, he so graciously took time to meet our students. They love him, knowing him as the Blogmeister of ClassBlogmeister, where our blogsite is hosted. They asked for, and received, autographs, got pictures of him and with him, and generally just stood around staring. He took it all in stride. Thank you, David. You meant the world to them.


loonyhiker said...

This sounded so neat. I wish I lived closer to attend things like this. It sounds like you had a great time and congrats on the award!

Kevin said...

Sounds wonderful.
Congrats and thanks for sharing.

NJTechTeacher said...

Congratulations. It really is great taking time out to meet and listen to the people you "read" online. What a nice opportunity to connect with the blogmeister, himself. It's probably just as nice for David to interact with some of the students who use his Classblogmeister.

Mrs.A said...

As always I enjoy reliving your adventures. What a great time you all seemed to have.