All posts by hyattz

My Conference Highlights #emints

While back in the office reflecting on this past week, I must admit I was sad to see the eMINTS National Conference come to an end. All of the presentations I attended were really excellent and truly inspiring.  If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, I highly encourage you make it next year. Conferences always tend to re-spark my love of education — I leave with so many fresh ideas and tools, it would be impossible to share them all in one blog post. We promise to share these great ideas, tools and more with you in this blog over the next few months but, for now, here are my top four moments from the conference:

 

  • PictureThursday Keynote Speaker, Ken Shelton: Ken spoke about “Generation Now”, focusing on three themes: Information Literacy, Digital Citizenship, and Publication and Collaboration. Not only was his presentation informative, his slides were beautifully designed and well thought out. A hot topic of the conference came from this session when Ken brought up “selfies”, sharing a video spoof on Instagram to remind students that, once you post a photo online, it’s out there and there is no going back.  For those who don’t know, a “selfie” is a picture taken of yourself that is usually intended to be uploaded to a social networking site.
  • Friday Keynote Speaker, Howie DiBlasi: Dr. Howie went over the habits of highly effective 21st century classrooms, at one point posing the question of whether we were ready for the next generation of students. His presentation was fast-paced and fun, sharing many inspirational videos and current tools to help us prepare students for the changing world we live in. His presentation inspired some great ideas for future blog posts on building 21st century skills, so keep checking back for this in the next couple weeks.
  •  Falling Falling, Falling (A Model Lesson): This session was discussed in the last post, so I won’t go into too much detail at this time — but this was one of my favorite sessions of the conference. Doug Caldwell and Glen Westbroek presented a model eMINTS lesson with the session attendees as the students. We got to set up tracks of dominos and record how fast they fell, based on various factors. It was super neat to see, from the student perspective, how current online tools can be used in a hands-on lesson that promotes real-world thinking and uses the eMINTS instructional model. A big bonus of this session is that they provided everything you need to implement this lesson in your own classroom via a LiveBinder, which you can access here.
  • QR codes and the Four C’s: One of the last sessions on Friday, I ‘d consider this to be one of the more energetic sessions I attended. Shelly Tarter gave us an interactive presentation on QR codes and how they can be used with the 4 C’s of education:  Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. We got hands-on experience using QR codes, learned the difference between static and dynamic QR codes, and brainstormed possible uses in groups — all while having fun. You could tell this presentation was a favorite by how the conversation continued long after it ended.  Shelly put together a great Weebly site for this presentation, which you can view here.


These were only a few of my favorite moments of the conference, but every attendee had a different schedule with a different experience. Question: What were some the highlights of your own 2013 eMINTS Conference experience?

[This post was provided by Zoe Hyatt, an instructional developer for the eMINTS National Center and eLearning for Educators.]

GIS and geo-literacy

During this wintry weather, I’ve been finding myself looking at a lot of weather and transportation maps to assess my work and travel situation — and it got me thinking about maps in the classroom.  When I was in school, over ten years ago, I got very little exposure and use out of maps, aside from the few classes that did use them regularly. However, this was a different time in education — Google Maps didn’t exist (remember when MapQuest was the primary way to get directions online?) and Google Earth was but a twinkle in someone’s eye. 😉  As an educator, you may find yourself asking:
With all the technology available today, what quality tools are available to advance geo-literacy in your classroom?

Besides common web mapping services like Google Maps, one way to expose your students to geography and other geographical data online is to bring GIS software into the classroom. In fact, the Missouri Geographic Alliance, through the University of Missouri, has signed on to provide all Missouri K-12 schools and educators with access to ESRI’s GIS software called ArcGIS (and I’m confident that other states are doing the same). The first step is to request the software, and ESRI even provides a free online training course to help you get the most out of the software.

Arcgis geocoding service inside Excel... Sweet! #esriuc

Unsure of what GIS is? As described by wikipedia, a Geographical Information System, or GIS, is “a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data”. In a nutshell, a GIS merges maps and statistical data with database technology, allowing you to view and interpret data in new ways. ESRI provides a good, easy to understand overview here. This type of software and data pairs great with inquiry and project-based learning, adding depth to assignments and simulations with geographical context and real data.

A real example of how GIS can be used in the classroom comes from Barbaree Duke, a middle school teacher in Raleigh, NC.  She had her students use GIS to create a project based on the travels of Mark Twain, using math skills to measure distances using the tools found in ERSI’s software. They then demonstrated social studies and technology skills by using the database to find locations around the world that Twain had visited. How cool is that?! For this lesson and more ideas from Barbaree, check out her GIS in Education blog.

As the above example demonstrated, GIS can be used in many different subject areas, not just social studies and geography, and can be paired with many other online tools, such as blogs, websites, and more. GIS can be used by your students to:

  • visualize historical events
  • explore the social and mathematical characteristics of demographic information
  • study climate change
  • design cities
  • take inventory of geological samples
  • plan ecological growth models
  • catalog archaeological sites
  • map travel logs/journals
  • map the setting/locations of a book
  • explore the locations and spread of diseases/illnesses
  • create travel routes for a delivery business
  • explore natural phenomena, such as volcanos and earthquakes
  • explore the habitats of animals and/or humans

This is a small list of the things you can do with GIS software. What about you? In what ways could you use GIS software to spruce up a new or existing lesson?

For more information on GIS and how to use it in the classroom, Missouri educators can visit http://gis.missouri.org/. All other areas, you can check out the National Geographic Network of Alliances for Geographic Education community and click on your state to get more information.

Why you should register for the 2013 eMINTS Annual Conference…

“The eMINTS conference is the best opportunity there is to find out what kinds of new and exciting things eMINTS teachers are doing in their classrooms! How often do like-minded people that share similar resources get to really think out of the box? It is a time for rejuvenation for me!!”      -Allison Byford (PD4ETS Graduate)

“I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new out there and discussing with other teachers how classrooms are changing from traditional learning to collaborative problem solving.”     – Klista Reynolds (Veteran eMINTS Teacher and PD4ETS Graduate)

“I am excited to learn about new resources that I can share with other teachers on how to better prepare when implementing Common Core State Standards that require the use of technology.  I hope I learn about new websites and tools that will help with this implementation.”  -Tysha Roughton (Veteran eMINTS Teacher)


Many education and technology conferences are expensive, running over a thousand dollars (or more!) per person — money most of us just don’t have to spare. Not only that, many take place out of state and in large cities, which can significantly add to the cost to attend. Despite this barrier, it is important that teachers, technology specialists and administrators are able to attend professional development conferences like these.  Lucky for us, there are more affordable options and one of them is right here in central Missouri.

The eMINTS Annual Conference welcomes all educators and takes place each year in Columbia, Missouri, with the 2013 conference fast approaching, running from February 27 – March 1, with registration closing soon, on January 25. For those that don’t know, the eMINTS National Center is a non-profit organization that has offered quality professional development programs for K-20 educators since 1999. They’ve reached classrooms all over the country and even have participants as far away as Australia. While it’s highly recommended to participate in the full eMINTS program for the most rewarding experience, those on a budget can get a taste of the program at the annual conference, which takes place over three days and offers various price options for those who wish to attend all (or part) of the conference.

If you are still unsure on whether to attend, you should take a look at the full conference schedule ahead of time. The eMINTS crew has some enriching sessions planned for this years conference and are welcoming two phenomenal leaders in education as keynote speakers. On Thursday, February 28, Ken Shelton brings us the keynote presentation called Generation NOW: 21st Century learning. This interactive keynote will be exploring ways that current digital resources “can foster increasing degrees of engagement from a teaching, learning, and creating perspective”. Then, on Friday March 1, the keynote speaker will be Dr. Howie DiBlasi with Building Better Teachers: Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Classrooms, which focuses on “the most important ingredient of a great education: effective teachers”. For more information on the keynote speakers and their conference sessions, check out the full description of each session on the conference website.

In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference schedule is full of sessions for all interests, tackling various 21st century teaching topics, technology and tools. Some of the topics featured include:  Backwards Design, Collaboration, Edmodo, Inquiry, Apps, iPads, Google, Twitter, SMART Notebooks, and much more. View the full schedule online for detailed descriptions of all the sessions and workshops taking place throughout the conference.

I think that the most appealing aspect of the conference is that almost all of the speakers and participants are real eMINTS teachers who’ve seen real results. It’s an anticipated yearly event where all these great minds come together to share their wisdom and insights with those who attend. Learning is a lifelong skill and conferences like the eMINTS Annual Conference provide opportunities to expand your knowledge and further develop your skills as an educator, allowing for that exchange of information to flourish outside of individual classrooms and school districts and to reach educators all over the world. If you are interested in attending, you should act now — registration closes next Friday, January 25th.

For more information or to register for the eMINTS Annual conference, please visit the conference website or www.emints.org.