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This was my second Edscape conference, and it was even more awesome than last year’s since I brought a coworker with me!  We started our day with an inspirational keynote by Vicki Davis. She shared some of her experiences as a teacher, and talked about how there is only ONE thing you can change: yourself.  Even something as simple as smiling when you are having a bad day can affect the attitudes of those around you.  Small changes can grow into large ones.  It was a good reminder that we cannot change everything ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change anything.  We need to start with ourselves and grow from there.

When the keynote finished, we headed out to our first session, energized and ready to learn.  There were so many great sessions that it was hard to choose just one to attend.  I started out in a session called Learning With The iPad.  I liked the fact that rather than focussing on specific apps, the presenters instead talked about how to use various apps to complete a specific project.  It’s less about WHAT you use to reach your goal and more about HOW you reach it.  We talked about using the Maps app, screenshots, Evernote, and more to complete a research project.  They also provided us with a sample lesson plan and rubric to use with our classes.

For second session, I went to iPad Screencasting and Qualitative Formative Assessment.  Once again, I was pleased to find that the session focussed less on WHAT and more on the HOW.  We talked about ways to use various screencasting apps such as ShowMe, Haiku Deck, and Explain Everything to have students show what they learned.  It definitely reiterated the fact that we need to use the iPads less for content delivery and more for creation and demonstration of knowledge.  With screencasting (and other creativity apps) students can both show what they have learned, and also use their creations to peer teach.  I’m very excited to start using some of these ideas in class.

At lunchtime, I had a chance to catch up with my coworker and share what we learned in our sessions.  It was a great experience being able to talk about our ideas and how we could implement them in our own district.  One of the ideas we came up with was to have a book club where parents can Skype in to the classroom and join book discussions.  We also talked about having people Skype in for a career exploration day.  It was wonderful being able to bounce ideas off each other!

For third session I was originally going to a session on using Google Docs to promote literacy, but I decided that based on the description I knew most of what was going to be covered.  Instead, I switched to Connecting Beyond The School Walls via Skype and Google+ Hangouts.  I ended up glad that I switched, because this session built on what I had been discussing at lunch.  We focussed on the example of a Mystery Skype (with Skype being interchangeable with Google+ Hangouts or similar programs) where students can Skype with another person/class and ask questions to discover where they are Skyping in from.

My last session was more on iPads.  We talked about a variety of different apps and how to use them for projects.  We saw a great app for interviewing called TagPad, and we learned about using ScribblePress to create books that can be opened in iBooks.  Two of my favorite apps from that session were SubText, which lets you annotate and and quizzes to ebooks, and the dotePub website that lets you turn webpages into ebooks for reading offline.

Once again, it was well worth getting up early and driving the two hours to New Milford for this conference.  I came home with so many great ideas, and a whole slew of new contacts to network with on Twitter.  The next conference is scheduled for October 19, 2013 so mark your calendars!

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