IT Summit 2009

Formatting didn’t work as I planned, but here it is:

IT Summit 2009


I am so thankful that my prof Alec Couros invited me to help present and attend the IT Summit on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24. This experience has helped me develop more as a professional. I only hope that one day I can possible measure up to some of the presenters. I was in awe at some of their presentations and keynotes. Their knowledge, dedication to their students, and innovative ideas were beyond what I expected.

Here is a wordle summary of what I learned from the IT Summit:


Questioning and Critical Thinking by Dr. Jamie McKenzie

Dr. Jamie McKenzie was the first keynote of the IT Summit. He kicked off the conference by talking about Reading Across a Dozen Literacies. I really enjoyed this keynote because I am learning about multi-literacies in other classes, so Dr. McKenzie just helped me to build on my schema.

He said that we need to use reading more broadly. We need to incorporate other literacies into our classrooms such as:

Reading and being literate is much more complex than just ‘reading’ and ‘math’. However, when students are struggling these are the things we drill into them. In my ERDG 425 class, it is discussed of then that we need incorporate the other literacies that these struggling students know and are good at in order to build on the literacies they are struggling in.

Good ideas take weeks to formulate and we need to guide our students into building these answers, not just finding them. We want our students to be thinkers. When they find information, we need them to distill this information (extract and synthesize) rather than just scooping and smooshing this information. I can admit that through much of Elementary school career, I was a scooper and smoosher and through the years I have developed the skills of a critical thinker. Our students can do this through comprehending, wandering, pondering, wondering, and considering.

It is so important to foster these literacies in our classrooms because it so important for our students to know how to read things other than just text and math.

Integrating the SMARTboard into what you are already doing by Milissa Gavel

Due to some technical difficulties, the presentation was cut short, but nonetheless it was a great presentation!

When working with technology, expect the unexpected, and plan accordingly!

The key thing that I took away from Milissa’s presentation was that you need to integrate the SMARTboard into what you are already doing. The SMARTboard should not be the only focus in your classroom. You still need to do everything else you are doing, but this will just help enhance student learning and engage them in their tasks.

A board is just a tool; we need to use other tools in our classroom such as, SMART Senteo, digital cameras, laptops, projectors, etc. Using something like the Senteo Clicker will give students who don’t normally speak up in class a voice. These also work as a form of assessment because it will save the information/data put into it. Since a SMARTboard is an interactive whiteboard, we should try to include as many students up at the board as possible. She suggested having about 5 people up at the board and the rest of the students working on the same sheet at their desks. She taught us many little tips and tricks that will help use the SMARTboard to best of its ability. If you have a SMARTboard you need to have it in the classroom to harness the interactiveness of it. She gave us some resources such as a place that has lessons, classroom solutions, and educator resources. Discussion at the board is a great thing! Having students work together to solve problems is such a strong teaching strategy. This is how we create life long learners.

Networked Learners: Understanding How Openness will Transform Learning by Alec Couros

cimg1757The idea of ‘openness’ is slowly starting to break through in educational communities. Over the years, we have seen the surfacing of open source software, open content, and open publishing. This has greatly affected the educational community because it has given teachers access to new tools and content. Alec discussed the larger transformative philosophies that are set to transform our educational system. He talked about the emerging concept of open teaching, and how it can assist in the facilitation and development of learning experiences that are social, collaborative, and meaningful.

He then asked me and Sarah Hill to share some of the experiences we have had through our ECMP 455 class and how open source teaching and learning has influenced us. As I have said in many of my previous posts, this class has truly prepared me for my upcoming career as a facilitator of learning (teacher). The reason I say this is because I am now a critical thinker of open source learning. I have seen it work for me and many of my other classmates. The fact that we have had experts come in to talk to us about a variety of innovative tools has made me think, I can do this in my classroom. The concept of a classroom being 4 walls is no longer restricting my students to knowing just the information I pass along to them.

I have also had the opportunity to build a PLN. Through my PLN I am able to connect with a variety of professionals on a daily basis to learn and share resources, thoughts and ideas. I guess it is kind of like having a professional development course that is always there. Every day I learn something new from my PLN and this would not be available without the concept of open source learning.

Telling the New Story… Live by Dean Shareski, Cathy Kassidy, Clarence Fisher, Darren Kuropatwa

Although I had seen this presentation in my ECMP 455 class on the Wednesday, I was very lucky to have the chance to view it again, especially live! The above educators and professionals are who I aspire to be like someday. Over the years they have developed their classrooms into transformative classrooms. I was in awe as I was sitting and listening to them share their journeys and insights into the new story of teaching and learning. The key thing I got out of their presentation is that it doesn’t happen overnight and there is no set instructions that you can follow to have a classroom like theirs. You need to find what works for you and your students.

You can visit their professional blogs at:

Dean Shareski:

Clarence Fisher:

Darren Kuropatwa:

Kathy Cassidy:

If you would like to see a recorded session, please click here.

Be Kind Rewind – Clarence Fisher

Listening to Clarence Fisher speak was very motivating! He is such an innovator and is so dedicated to teaching to his students. He posed the question: “Society is changing so how can classrooms/education change to keep up with it? Are kids different today?”

Kids are different today and classrooms and education need to change in order to engage our students in their learning and help guide them into becoming life long learners. It is our role as educators to find out what is important and interesting to our students and incorporate their funds of knowledge into your classroom and lessons. Students are growing up in an open source world and know all about having access to the world. So why is that as educators we often take that away from them and restrict them to the 4 walls of the classroom? Our society has changed! It is not that the technology is changing our society, but the way we learn is changing, technology is just the enabler. We shouldn’t ask our students to power down when they enter our classrooms. Learning is about connecting and collaborating. Since the tools we use today will likely be different in 5 years we shouldn’t focus on teaching technology, but rather how to find information and how to formulate answers. The tools we use aren’t the destination, they’re the vehicle. Students socialize and learn through their social networks and likely will use there social networks as adults as well (just look at us and our PLN’s). We need to teach kids how to use these networks in a responsible and safe manner. By restricting them access we aren’t teaching them anything. We are alienating our kids, we need to give them the skills to survive!

So now what? How do we support the chance of society in our classrooms?
1. Classrooms should be considered studios. It is OK for kids to work in different ways. We should critique and give feedback in open ways because other kids can learn from that.

2. The Teacher should be looked at as a Network Administrator. We need to connect students with knowledge and help them navigate through to the information you know they need.

The idea of school is preparation for life vs. school is life is important. We have the opportunity to guide and create good citizens. We want kids learning together and thinking together long term. We should allow our students to bring their PODs (personally owned devices) to school, for example, laptops, Ipods, etc. We don’t get mad at them went they bring pencils. We are responsible to teach kids in a way that is meaningful to them. Technology will not transform your classroom but it will make it more authentic and engaging. We should provide more opportunities to reach more students and for them to make connections.

Literacy and Learning for the 21st Century by David Warlick

cimg1761This keynote presentation was so inspiring! I have looked at Warlick’s work before the conference, but I didn’t put 2 and 2 together. You can view the handouts here. Warlick redefined literacy to what it means for the 21st century. We are spending way too much time teaching how to use paper, when we should be teaching them digital literacy. It is our duties as educators to prepare our students for their future. Yet, we are preparing our students for a future we can’t clearly describe. Society is changing at such a quick pace, so we need to to find out what our students need to learn today, to prepare them for tomorrow. The best thing we can teach our kids is how to teach themselves! We can do this by helping them be literate in multi-literacies. Students should be willing, able and encouraged to ask questions. It is through their questioning that they learn and formulate new answers. Our students should be investigators. We have the potential to gain more information; however, we need to know what to read. To do this we need to expose what is true in the text:  find the information, critically evaluate, organize, and apply. Math is no longer just mathematical equations. All information is made out of numbers and these numbers tell a story.

Contemporary literacy has 4 E’s:

1. Exposing what is true.

2. Employing information.

3. Expressing ideas compellingly.

4. Ethical use of information.

The world is the curriculum! It is changing everyday!

Enhancing Student – Teacher Collaboration using GoogleDocs by Rob Wall

Google Docs is a set of online applications used for creating, editing and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Teachers can use it to enhance student learning by facilitating interaction with and between students. Rob showed us how he and his colleagues used  Google Docs in face-to-face and online courses, ideas for ways to use Google Docs in the classroom and a rapid tour of the Google Docs applications.

Google Apps can enhance the whole environment of the classroom and take learning outside of the 4 walls of the classroom. You can use Google Docs in so many ways in your classroom. Most of these uses help the teacher and the learner to focus more on the process of the learning than the product. This can be done through Writer’s Workshop, Group Work, Homework accessible anywhere with internet connection, etc. He taught us how you can make comments on student work and how everything is documented so you can see who is doing the work. You can also use the forms option as a non-threatening pre-assessment tool and way to gather information. What an engaging and accurate way of seeing where your students are at in their learning. The neat thing is that Google has made it so user-friendly that it takes the ‘thinking’ part out of it for the teachers. After someone has completed the form it is automatically posted to a spreadsheet. What a time saver!

Micro-Blogging in the Classroom by Eldon Germann

Look at communication use in the different generations, what do they use? Written letter? Talk? Phone? Email? Instant Messaging? The generations to come are not communicating the way that we are used to nor the way we were taught. This is creating a generation who is not held accountable for their communication skills. Using a backchatter in your classroom that is assessed, allows us an opportunity to help develop the student’s proper digital communication etiquette, respect, responsibility and safety. Eldon showed us how he used the teacher-student designed backchatter, Edmodo, as an assessed communication device. He discussed how through this tool he was able to make students accountable for their digital communication. It was also a tool that helped to re-organize digital assignments, assessment and evaluation.

The tool he showed us this through was Edmodo. It allows you to use the same features as Twitter, which you use with your PLN, but it allows you to create a PLN with your classroom. It is a private micro-blogging platform that teachers and students can use to send notes, links, files, alerts, assignments, and events to each other.

The biggest thing I took from this session is that by using backchatter or micro-blogging you are enhancing collaboration and communication in your classroom. No longer is the teacher the only holder of knowledge. Students can now work together towards an answer.


One thought on “IT Summit 2009

  1. courosa says:

    Very nicely done! There is some fantastic information here! Thanks for summing this up.

    Also, the idea of the backchannel is very new, and I am glad that you were able to experience this. It really does start to change a lot … but we have a lot to think about it, even in the very short term.

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