NATC Recap - Almost One Month Later

Canvas Learning Management System was the focus of this year's North Alabama Technology Conference as Madison County gears up for its first year using the LMS district wide.  I am especially excited about the digital portfolio component.  I have been wanting this for years for my students, but haven't found the right solution.  With district support, it may have finally arrived.

My first day was spent setting up, delivering, and taking down my Makerspace Workshop.  With the help of a good friend, everything went smoothly, and I hope that I've inspired a few to try something new next year.

By day 2, I was eager to learn and Courtney Hamilton (@winningeducator) delivered with her informative session on Tech Integration for K-2 students. I was so impressed at how well she facilitated active participation while moving through a good quantity of tools and applications for each. 

New (to me) tools and ideas from Courtney's session:
  • Five Dice - this fun order of operation game can be played with two players, or in challenge mode.  It's free in the App Store.

  • Fuel the Brain - There are lots of fun, interactive games for math and reading comprehension, including poetry examples. I also love the mini book maker with built in images.
  • Power My Learning - A fantastic collection of K-12 interactives, videos, and games.  The Math and Language Arts resources can be browsed by common core standards, too.  Best of all, it has a creation tools filter! 

  • Literacyshed.comBrowse the resources by categories on the left navigation bar, and you will find lesson plans that spring from videos or vivid images. These are guaranteed to engage your students. There's even a mathematics shed with no less than 75 categories of video and lesson ideas to choose from.
  • Get Out of Your Search Engine Rut - I confess to being lazy sometimes and sticking with Google in my own searching and my teaching. I know students are going to use it, and I make the excuse that I want to teach them how to be power Google users. Courtney's session and the Search not Sort session at AETC reminded me that I need to expand my search engine lessons.  First, Google isn't appropriate for all searches or searchers. Using other search engines can help students learn to evaluate strengths and weaknesses associated with source selection.  Two favorites to introduce next year: KidRex (Google powered, kid friendly) and InstaGrok (searches meet concept maps to emphasize the power of relationships in research).
I was honored to join Kathy Heiman's session on Fund for Teachers. Kathy shared the process for applying for a Fund for Teachers learning grant.  She also highlighted some of the exciting trips teachers have taken to expand their own learning and bring it back to their communities.  Madison County teachers have had a lot of success with this grant!  As a 2014 Fund for Teachers fellow, I can attest that the process is fairly simple, the rewards keep coming, and the opportunity to learn is too good to pass up.  

I ended the conference in the Atriuum sessions with some of my favorite Madison County librarians. After four years using this system, I  am finally learning how to add student pictures to my catalog and find some of the administrative manuals online.  This is going to make it easier for me and especially the volunteers and substitutes to avoid making mistakes when checking out books.  I also downloaded the app for searching the catalog.  I'll be loading that on all the student iPads this fall!

The conference was well attended this year and there was an abundance of learning opportunities including hands-on workshops, concurrent sessions, tech marketplace, and vendors. Vickey Sullivan and her team never fail to put on a great conference! 


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