I knew there was a reason I didn’t book my overseas vacation for this break, but I wasn’t sure exactly why… until I realised that it would have been because I’d already committed to speak at a workshop at the 2008 Early Years Conference: Learning, Growing, Achieving, presented by NSW DET. Day 1 was held today, but my talk session – co-presented with current Scan editor, Cath Keane, isn’t until tomorrow.
Cath has put together a PowerPoint presentation about our recent ventures into the world of Web 2.0 – online book raps for Stage 1, and related blogs and wikis, and I’ll also be talking about my school wiki pages, using some of the material I prepared (on fable writing for Early Stage 1) for the School libraries leading learning conference I did earlier this year. My conference notes are still online, revamped a little to incorporate some recent reflections. Since that last conference, I’ve also worked on some other relevent projects: a wiki page for the Arthur Simultaneous Reading event and some great Nursery Rhyme matrices, which I used in Term One this year with Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 classes.
Today there were some excellent and thought-provoking keynote speeches from Professor Scott Paris, of University of Michigan, (“Teaching and assessing comprehension right from the start”) and Tracey Simpson (“Honest talk, shared language: connectedness for success in the early years”). Both keynotes emphasised the importance of teachers making full use of evidence-based practice, both reading the results of others’ research, and using one’s own to inform future teaching. I enjoyed these sessions, took lots of notes – which I promise to synthesis and report back about.
And sorry, Judy – of HeyJude blog – I still take my notes on paper. With a pen. The old-fashioned way. Again. 😉 (Although the money I saved not going to the USA could go towards an Apple laptop? Maaaybe.) At another recent conference, Judy had challenged attendees at that conference why no one in the audience was using their mobile (to send off live still images of the speakers direct to their blogs), or Twittering as the speeches were unfurling, or sending a live feed of the conference to overseas locations.
As I await my school’s first interactive whiteboard (IWB), it was interesting to note that many (most?) workshop presenters are now using them as standard equipment. I attended excellent and flashy sessions on “Student learning in a digital age” and “COGs: raising the bar in the early years”. In the main room, there was also a “Regional showcase” of the Best Start assessment tools project from the Sydney Region.
In summing up the regional showcase, Rob Randall reminded us of an excellent earlier quote and many people jotted this down as one of their last comments on their notepads. The new emphasis for the schools involved in Best Start has become “… shorter teaching episodes with fluid groups of students”.
Not an entirely new thought for me, coming from plenty of experience in PSP (Priority Schools Program) schools, but no doubt quite a new concept for others.
Tomorrow – Day 2! Wish me luck!