Always wanting to acquire knowledge and learn about the latest trends that are effective teaching or learning tools, I enjoy attending a conference whenever I can. Having a budget that lacks sufficient funding, it was beneficial to call on VSLA’s Scholarship opportunity. With the help of the VSLA Scholarship, I was able to attend the November 8 + 9 Vermont Fest conference at the Killington Grande Resort. While there I was able to network with colleagues, gain ideas and get feedback from others, and get a few new ideas of my own.
I started with attendance to the Computer Science Alliance forum to learn more about what will be offered. While there are very few CS certified educators in the state of Vermont, working with students below grade 7, certification is not necessary. However, hearing about this new alliance was interesting and will be a great opportunity for many. Attendance to the Coding and Robots for Younger Learners workshop allowed me to learn about picture books, unplugged activities, devices, ideas, and standards connections for coding. Attendance to both of these workshops provided great insight for me into the continuum of CS in my library program.
Before I realized who Rushton Hurley was, he was helping me 1:1 to work with some green screen features in the WeVideo workshop. This was beneficial as I facilitate learning for my students in grades 3-5. Following this, enoying him as our keynote speaker provided additional insight into the interesting person he is. The next day I attended his Defining Amazing: Taking What You Do to the Next Level workshop to learn how to “raise my game as a teacher.” We examined what makes learning activities memorable, and he shared tricks for getting higher engagement out of students, and improving how we identify the quality of what happens in our classrooms. Great statements by Hurley included those that remind the educator to get out of the way, and allow student-directed learning. create student empowerment, and act as the facilitator. Rushton’s delivery of information included inspiring videos, and reminding educators to share some crazy ideas. My favorite quote was “Our expertise is not content- it is the ability to ask good questions.” I purchased one of his books so that I could reference his amazing work and continue to grow with his suggested activities.
Attendance to Using VoiceThread as a Portfolio Tool was useful as our school has an account. Interacting with other attendees of the workshop to create a VoiceThread provided additional motivation, while also having the experience we provide for our students when doing this activity.
New this year to the conference was the opportunity to earn a badge or micro-credential as a Connected Learner Amplifier. I met this criteria through collaboration and attendance to certain workshops. The AppSmash eBook Sprint session allowed me to team and share ideas with others while becoming more familiar with Book Creator. A group book was published from the ideas and resources in these sessions.
One of the most exciting aspects of the 2-day conference was the Google Tour Builder workshop. Learning about this, I had students in mind who would benefit greatly from this. Returning to school the following week, I was able to completely engage some [intended] students to learn more about the world and travel with this tool.
The Project Based Learning workshop focused on voice and choice and how to present student learning to a public audience. As educators, we must ask ourselves how do we prepare our curriculum so that our students WANT to learn. Meaningful research that would support classroom research could include kids taking walking field trips around town while learning about their community, interacting with people, and then creating a brochure. We must deal with real-world problems to come up with real-world solutions to keep our learners engaged.
The ‘Why We Make in Elementary School!’ workshop was useful for my library space. Learning about low-cost ideas and hearing about what items might be useful in a makerspace from another perspective was helpful. Being interested in this movement, I always find workshops where someone else shares ideas to be very helpful.
Learning about VR Instructional Design & Assessment was less appealing than what I had hoped for. However, it is important to learn about a tool before purchase. In this case, it helped me to realize that at this point, VR is not for my program.
Attendance helped me to acquire great insight into a well-rounded variety of opportunities. Please accept my sincere gratitude for your support of my attendance. I appreciate the great work VSLA does, and am proud to serve as a regional representative.
Joanne Reed Allen
Enosburg Elementary Library Media Center
Enosburg Falls, VT 05450