As always, I came away from ACTEM with new ideas and inspiration. I enjoyed Tony Vincent’s keynote about challenging the status quo and I wish that I had the opportunity to spend more time learning with him. I’d love to know more about how to get mobile devices into the hands of elementary students and how to use those devices in an inquiry-based learning model. Tony’s discussion of how “compliance” and “coverage” hinder creativity and authentic learning resonated with me; sometimes the structure of our school day feels more like a hindrance than a help in teaching and learning. I’ve been thinking about his final challenge to us – question the status quo in large and small ways – this was a good reminder for me personally and I hope it is something that we can look at in our smaller staff and PLN groups!
My favorite session of the day was David Trask’s “Productivity 2.0 – Taming Technology to Manage your Life.” While this session didn’t particularly highlight tools for use in the classroom, it did focus on tools that you can use to manage your online life both personally and professionally (and how to manage their occasional collision!). The coolest little trick that I came away with was using Google Voice to convert my iPad into a cell phone. I am one of the last remaining Luddites of the world who doesn’t have a cell phone and every once in a blue moon that is problematic. Combining Google Voice with the app Talkatone, however, turns my iPad into a fully functional cell phone (for free, no less)! Will I use this with my students? Probably not. But, the miraculous conversion of an iPad into a cell phone was a good reminder for me that technology enables us to do just about anything that we can dream or envision. As an educator, that is a very powerful message.
So, all told, my greatest take away from this year’s ACTEM was not really one particular site or one nifty tool. Rather, it was a powerful reminder that technology enables. I also came away with a number of questions to ponder: what more can I do to bring that empowering potential into the hands of my students? How can I collaborate with my colleagues and students to challenge the status quo? I’ve added Tony Vincent and David Trask to my Twitter PLN and I look forward to continuing the discussion with them virtually throughout the year!