Tuesday, July 2, 2013

29th Anja S. Greer Conference on Secondary School Mathematics, Science, and Technology

Our annual conference ended last Friday and we enjoyed three outstanding evening talks for which I like to provide some links. The Sunday evening speaker was William Dunham of Muhlenberg College who spoke on proofs of Heron's Formula for the area of a triangle. Dr. Dunham is a popular author of books on the history of mathematics. The Monday evening speaker was Bruce Dixon, founder of the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation. Mr. Dixon has long been an advocate of 1:1 computing in schools. And, on Wednesday, Dan Meyer, a doctoral student at Stanford University and proponent of digital media in education, spoke to the group. Dan maintains a very active and well-followed blog. You can also follow him on Twitter at @ddmeyer.

In addition to the outstanding courses we provide during the week, we have always prided ourselves in our evening speaker series and this year was nothing short of fantastic. Please consider attending the 30th conference next June. The dates of the conference are June 22-27, 2014. While our website remains active all year, new courses and registration materials will be available by January 15, 2014.

iTeach 2013

The iTeach 2013 conference at San Domenico School in San Anselmo, CA was, as last year, excellent. Chris Sokolov, organizer of the event and who will be joining San Francisco Day School in the fall, has to get most of the credit for San Domenico's move to 1:1 iPads.

The conference began with a talk by Cecily Stock, Head of School, who spoke about What We've Learned 1:1 iPads at San Domenico. Much like Exeter, San Domenico began by piloting iPads and laptops. They taught lessons with these devices side-by-side and compared notes. When they decided to adopt iPads 1:1, they started with grades 6 - 12 in 2011. Next year they will have expanded the program to grade 1!

Along the way they discovered a lot about themselves as a learning institution:
- They must have patience with students and colleagues
- They must be flexible. iPads are dynamic (this fits nicely with Harkness where lesson planning is different)
- iPads allowed for them to produce curriculum, not just consume information
- They experienced much more conversation and collaboration with colleagues, both within San Domenico and outside.
- They found that iPads created a culture of innovation.

The keynote address, The Digital Classroom: Preparing Your Students for Success, was given by Merve Lapus of Common Sense Media. Mr. Lapus emphasized something I have long believed; we, as educators, are dealing with a completely different kind of student and, moreover, it is our responsibility as educators to guide them in the appropriate use of technology. For today's youth, technology is persistent. The average teenager produces 3417 texts per month! There are 8 million kids on Facebook who are under the age of 13! One in three 10-18 year olds report being cyberbullied. Only one in ten report this to an adult. Kids have always made bad decisions and now they are more public. We need to guide them.

In a session about implementing iPads in a 1:1 program in schools, some very useful recommendations were made. Regarding the question of why iPads, why not something else, there was consensus that the iPad is currently the best device. This could change in five years - a lifetime in the tech world. The advice was to not get "jerked" around by new technology. Get a handle on it, ride the wave, and keep working to stay on top of it. Clearly, curriculum has to change, too. Alan November, an education technology consultant, was quoted as saying, "If you can look it up on the Internet, it was a bad question."

A session on the iPad in the English classroom highlighted some Apps which I will list below.