Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Help Me Build My BLC10 Presentations

I've been attending and presenting at conferences for quite a few years now and last year was my first experience at Alan November's Building Learning Communities conference. I should have known they were already planning for the next conference when only 3 days after I arrived back home, I received the loveliest email from Alan November asking me to return to BLC10. I can't even express how honored I was/am to be asked back.

In a few weeks, I will present at FETC and then in June, ISTE. I'm very much looking forward to those conferences, but BLC is different. It's much smaller and intimate. Most of the presenters (not me) are "famous" in the world of education. It's great to be able to sit and have a drink with that same person whose blog you read or presentation you've seen at larger conferences. Everyone is approachable, available and WANTS to talk to YOU. The focus is clearly on authentic learning and the opportunities to engage others are presented at every turn. It's helpful to find out that the same frustrations we experience here in Palm Beach County, FL are often the same elsewhere and in many cases, worse! The best is when you discover some successful ways others are dealing with your same frustrations. When I left BLC09, I had new friends and lots to think about as I returned to my classroom in the fall.

Now, I'm starting to think about some topics for my BLC10 presentations. Last year, I spoke on personal learning networks, VoiceThread and integrating a variety of free online tools into the curriculum. I've got some ideas but I'd like to hear from you.

When you attend conferences, what are some sessions you always hope to find but never seem to be available (or are not satisfying)? What are your suggestions? What would be most meaningful to YOU?

While you're coming up with ideas for me (thanks!), watch this 4 min. BLC video created by Brian Mull. It really captures the heart of what BLC is.

(Note: In the comments below, Brian Mull shares that he did not create the video. It was created by Alas Media. Thanks for setting the record straight, Brian!)

BLC09 Wrap-up Video from Brian Mull on Vimeo.


David said...

Awesome picture. Lucky guy, I am.

Ann M. Carnevale said...

Great question!

I'm always looking for things that the average elementary school teacher can use. So many times it seems like things are geared towards middle and high school uses, and elementary is left out.

The other thing I look for is the TRUE connection to the curriculum. Timelines and pacing guides no longer allow for units/topics/tools we love to teach and use, but aren't part of the curriculum. If it doesn't have a direct correlation, I don't share it with my teachers.

The other thing I look for is that whatever is featured doesn't take an unrealistically long amount of time to accomplish. There's limited time available in the labs or with laptop carts, so doing something that will go on three weeks after a unit has ended, isn't necessarily the best use of time for many teachers.

I guess the bottom line is that there has to be a true correlation with the curriculum taught, when it is being taught... at least that's how we do it in my district.

IMC Guy said...

I'm always looking for ideas I can take back and put into practice immediately. Sometimes, presentations focus on the big picture, and unfortunately, I don't have much control over the big picture right now. I think it's good to have discussions about school reform and other heavy topics, though.

In my positions, I'm trying to get teachers and students to use technology more. Any ideas that can help that process are great in my eyes.

Mrs. Brewer said...

Sounds like a great conference where there is great networking and idea sharing to help us all be better educators in the classroom.

Brian Mull said...

Oh, I wish I could take credit for the video. It was actually created by the team at Alas Media. We have been honored to work with them for several years now.

Anonymous said...

Twitter is doing something amazing. It allows us teachers to contact each other and share educational ideas as well as learn from each other. The difference between us and the students is that students might not be as motivated as I am to learn about new topics. I believe that tool that will open student learning and interest with one another is skype. We need to use skype and have each other teach each others class for one small lesson as a guest teacher, or have the students interact and teach other what they have learned. Skype is a tool that needs to be in every classroom. What do you think?

Errin said...

I always want to see something along the lines of integrating technology into a visual arts program. It seems to be a small little niche between traditional visual arts and digital media programs. Probably not what you were looking for, but you did ask:)

On a side note, Alan November came and spoke to my graduate cohort last year. He was wonderful! One of these days I'll find my way to BLC, too!

Jerry Blumengarten - Cybrary Man said...

Attending conferences and presenting at them is a wonderful experience. However, the key is being able to bring back what you have learned and be able to share it with the average teachers in your work environment and showing them how it could be used with whatever they are teaching in an easy manner. Most are not on your level and as with teaching you have to be able to show them the new technology without scaring them.

The cumbersome Distance Learning of the past is now easily attainable and teachers should team teach with the new technologies that are available.

BLC seems like a phenomenal learning environment and you are definitely a big asset.

wbasinger said...

I would love a presentation on where to start and how to not become overwhelmed by all of the options. Most teachers need to know how to get started and then where to go when they get more comfortable.

Unknown said...

I attended BLC09 for first time, too. Intimate and worthy is right-on. Everyone and everything is above average... I want to answer your question but I have to think for a while... your presentation last year was good, but as many are... they are sit and gets (as our friend Paula states!) How can you turn them into more? I don't have the answer... YET. But I am going to really think about this and my goal is to attend again this year... even if I have to attend on my own. (budget cuts... whoa baby...)
Thanks for asking... and I look forward to reading comments from others on this as well.

Tracy said...

Incorporating technology with learning is what I am passionate about (we loved IMC Guy's comment!).

DreamBox Learning is close by right now at FETC - come say hi to Sue or Mickelle at booth 1305 and check out what we are all about. If you have an interest in online learning programs, you can check out our session on "Using Virtual Manipulatives to Support the Development of Number Sense" on Jan 14 at 3:10 in room W304D.

Like what you see? Have any comments or thoughts? I'd love to hear what you have to say on our blog:

Hope to see you at FETC this week!

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