Thursday, March 4, 2010

NCTIES 2010 - My Musings

This year I got the privilege of attending one day at the NCTIES Conference in Raleigh. The conference was awesome. I truly enjoyed the time to Tweet, reflect, and connect with colleagues. Ron Clark was the keynote speaker at today's luncheon, and I was inspired and humbled as he led each of us to reflect about the true reason we are in the classroom. "If you don't love every one of those kids, you need to quit," he said, and the audience applauded our agreement.

The most helpful session I attended today was probably Bethany Smith's (@bethanyvsmith) morning session about building and maintaining a PLN. She offered some great suggestions for organizing contacts and managing time. I'm already using Twitter much more effectively after download TweetDeck. Her points about the value and importance of blogging also really resonated with me. "Writing a blog has made me think about what I'm doing more than anything else," she reflected. As an educator, I often do not allow myself the time I need to truly reflect upon what is working in my classroom and what needs to change. I hope that by beginning the discipline of blogging, I can improve my own instruction as well as collaborate with other like-minded educators. You can see my notes from Bethany's session at this address:

The second session I attended was Learn NC's explanation of mapping tools. David Walbert presented, and all of his research and resources will be available soon at I enjoyed the session because David pointed out specific skills that students need to truly comprehend maps. He compared reading map symbols to decoding, and pointed out that students need more context to truly comprehend the maps they are using in class and in life. David cautioned teachers against the assumption that students have the spatial and projective skills to interpret maps in instruction, and he offered a variety of suggestions for the developing those skills in the classroom. My notes from the mapping session are posted in this Google document:

My last session was about using Web 2.0 with SMART Boards in the classroom. The presenter was MaryAnn Sansonetti with the PLATTS Co. She suggested many different sites to use with the SMARTBoard. My favorite was, which allows you to create interactive timelines that include images, text, and other multimedia. Some of her other suggestions included:

  • GoogleMaps - Use the street view to create a virtual field trip to any city in the world.
  • Glogster - Create a multimedia presentation or environment. Use the education version to create teacher and student accounts.
  • Kerpoof - Create pictures, cards, animated movies, and illustrated stories. The program automatically adjusts for depth and perspective. You must create teacher and student accounts.
  • Prezi - Create presentations in the format of concept maps.
  • ToonDoo - Create cartoons and ebooks that can be exported via Twitter and Facebook, printed, or embedded on a website. She advised educators to be sure the "Safe Search" feature is on for this program.
  • MakeBeliefsComix- Create basic comics in multiple languages.
  • Wall Wisher - Allow students to post answers to a question, then use the SMARTBoard to organize the responses.
  • Blabberize - Create talking characters from still pictures.
  • XtraNormal - Create animated talking characters. An English teacher mentioned that he collaborates with the drama teacher using this program to teach script development.
  • Sumopaint - Described as a "paint program on steroids."
  • Shepards Software - Educational games
Overall it was an excellent day at the conference - I feel challenged me to be more purposeful, creative, and reflective in my own classroom, and I'm inspired me to collaborate more often with my PLN around the world. I walked away with some concrete ideas about how to be more self-reflective, how to better manage my PLN, new web tools to try, and some great Geography lesson plans. Thanks to all the presenters and participants who helped to make this year's NCTIES a great success!