I just spent the last two days at the Podstock education conference in Wichita, Kansas.
Some of you will probably be wondering, why.
Podstock is the brain child of Kevin Honeycutt, and is run by the ESSDACK education service agency out of central Kansas. Just over 100 people attended; probably 2/3 from districts in Kansas, with delegations from Texas, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, along with a few outliers like myself from places like New York and Oregon.
Going to Podstock is like having an intimate conversation with 100 people about things that matter in education.
- How to integrate technology into classroom, and beyond classroom, instruction
- What we have learned in the last year
- What obstacles have presented themselves, and what we've overcome
- What we've done to engage kids, while still helping them pass tests
One example is a discussion led by Kay Tibbs, Director of Technology in Wellington, Kansas.
Kay is a huge proponent of using cellphones in class. She discussed how she has kids use cameras and video cameras on their cell phones for digital storytelling, sharing their stories on the classroom drop.io folder.
She described how she instructs teachers on how to set up a class project website using wapple. Wapple allows you to lay out a website, and then renders it so that it will work on any web enabled cellphone. An example that integrates wapple and drop.io is at http://go.wapple.net/techsnacks (and it is rendered differently in a Blackberry, Android, or Apple cellphones.)
She showed us how she shows teachers how to let students use their cell phones as classroom or home based clickers/responders, using poll everywhere and then show the results in Powerpoint or Google presentations.
And then she broke us into groups and had us build an application that used these sites, discussing how else we could integrate them into the classroom.
I gave a session on how to design curriculum using instructional design techniques, so that students are engaged, the material is presented in logical chunks, and students retain what they've been taught. And we were able to have an fascinating discussion on how to apply this to teaching the scientific method for different age groups, and how to link the scientific method to the students' real lives.
This was an event that was stimulating, fun, and where everyone could bring back new skills and connections that were immediately applicable. For notes from presentations, and for information about Podstock next year go to http://podstock.ning.com/.
Also, I have to mention that both Kevin Honeycutt and Kay Tibbs are available to do PD in districts or conferences, so contact ESSDACK if you're interested.
Finally, the picture is Kevin Honeycutt and Larry Papenfuss showing the New Yorker some Kansas hospitality.