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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

Getting Connected
Carl Sannito

Last week I attended a two-day conference from Classroom Connect and it was one of the best educational conferences I have ever attended. Classroom Connect  has a multitude of resources which they offer on their fantastic website. The problem I always have with fantastic websites is that I just don't have enough time to spend poking around them. Heck, I don't even have enough time to find out which web sites are fantastic. That's where this conference comes in.

They sponsor conferences across the United States in cities such as Seattle, San Antonio, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Chicago (my hometown) to name a few.

The entire upcoming schedule is at http://corporate.classroom.com/cc.htm.

I'm not going to pull a bunch of information off their website and give you information that you could find elsewhere. I would just like to take a few minutes and give you my perspective of the two days I spent at the conference and let you know what I got out of it. I mean, although it's great to take two days away from school, it can be a considerable burden. If you're a classroom teacher, you have to whip up two days of sub plans and pray your classroom is still there when you get back. If you're a resource teacher (like myself), then you might have to make up missed prep classes before or after your absence. I can see how some teachers might be reluctant to attend. However, this was time well spent.

I was going to tell you that this was a technology conference (and it is), but it truly was much more than that. It was a conference that helped teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. The content covered many areas including reading/language arts, math, and technology instruction and integration. For instance, most of us have heard about reading resources such as graphic organizers and rubrics. I attended a session that showed me where to go to get more information about graphic organizers AND (this is the important part) the presenter gave great ideas on how to use them in the class and even showed examples.

So you're saying to yourself, "Big deal. He went to an in-service. I don't even teach reading."

Here's the great part. There were over 50 different sessions to pick from at the conference. Yes, this was a conference where the teachers actually got to pick what they wanted to learn! What a novel idea! I attended 9 sessions including: Advanced Internet Searching, The Best of the Web, Writing and Technology: Natural Partners, and 21st Century Manipulatives in the Elementary Math Classroom. Each session had a huge projection screen and audio system so each presenter could share websites, student work, software, PowerPoint presentations, video, etc. I will admit that some classes were better than others, and some presenters were more dynamic than others. And sometimes I didn't pick a session that was a good fit for me. But after two intense days, I was super charged to get back to work and try lots of new ideas.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about the whole thing is that I was exposed to new software and websites. Technology changes fast and I need all the help I can get to stay (somewhat) on top of things.

Another thing that makes this so great was that you could even register for training sessions that had labs set up so you could work along with the presenters. I attended one on Adobe Photoshop that was outstanding. These sessions are longer and cost $49 in advance, but well worth the time and money.

I hope you're still with me, because here's the best part: all the handouts from each presentation are online at the Classroom Connect website. So, even if you can't attend the conference, you can still check out the resources. Here's what you do: go to http://corporate.classroom.com/cc.html and look for the Calendar. Under the Calendar you will see a list of conferences. Click on anyone of the linked conferences and a new window will open. You'll see information about that particular conference. At the top of this page there is a tab marked "handouts". Click there and you will have a list of all the handouts in PDF format. Not only will you have all the handouts but you'll have a list of all the topics covered that conference. Be warned, the handouts only stay online for a few weeks after each conference. But I think it's great because there were sessions I wanted to attend but couldn't because of conflicts. All I have to do is go there and I can read through everything I missed. It's not as good as attending the session, but it's a good start.

Although I don't want to appear to be a shill for Classroom Connect, you can download a brochure from http://proflearn.classroom.com/ProfDev/Conferences/Conferences/pdf/03Fall_Brochure.pdf to get all the specifics about cost and locations of their fall conferences.

If you have questions about the conference, you can e-mail Carl at carlsannito@yahoo.com.


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