Reflections from the 2014 Fall Ed Tech Conference

Reflections from the 2014 Fall Ed Tech Conference

On October 9th and 10th I had the opportunity to attend the Fall Ed Tech Conference held in Kearney. This conference, co-sponsored by NETA and NCSA is held every fall and strives to provide opportunities for teachers and administrators to learn more about technology integration and student learning.

Like many conferences, social media played a large component in the experience of the event. You can check it out for yourself by look up #nefetc on twitter or clicking here (

A Few Highlights

Visible Thinking:


My favorite sessions of the conference involved Bob Dillon! Yep, that’s right, I had lunch with Bob Dillon, well not the singer, but Dr. Robert Dillon was the Keynote speaker and a featured presenter at NeFETC. Part of Dr. Dillon’s message was that of visualizing students thinking. Why practice visual thinking? Because it cultivates student’s thinking skills and dispositions, it deepens learning, increases curiosity, concern for the true and motivates them to learn thats why!
Dr. Dillon discussed many activities that helps to visualize thinking, but I’m gong to just share four here. It’s recommended that you pick 3-4 and focus on them in order to develop a routine with you students. They will get better over time the more you use the strategies and you will get better and better results!

Chalk Talk

A ‘Chalk Talk’ is similar to Think-Pair-Share. During a Chalk Talk, have students discuss with each other a prompt you have given them. Have the groups record their thinking on posters around the room, or on the website Padlet (a virtual whiteboard). This helps get student thinking out into the open. Even if the responses are wrong, they are visible so they can be addressed.

See, Think Wonder

See, Think, Wonder is all about the visuals. How often we we give students time to wonder about the possibilities of image? With this strategy, present a large visual image to them (two great source for pictures are the Library of Congress and the Google Art Project As they look at the image, ask them, “ What do you see? What do you think about it? What does it make you wonder?” This could be a great activity to kick off a history or geography unit, or could even be used as students learn about different types of plants and animals in a science lesson.

Compass Discussion

For this activity, the directions of a compass (E,W,N,S) guide the activity. Ask students:
What Excites you?
What Worries you?
What do you Need to know?
What is your Stance?

Think, Puzzle, Explore

This activity is another great way to replace the traditional KWL chart. When presenting a topic, ask students, “What do you know about this?” After they record what they know, follow up with “What questions or puzzles do you have” and “How can you explore the topic more?” These questions will get students to think deeper about the topic and give you a better insite into how they are thinking.

Extending Google: 
One session that I really enjoyed was put on by Jeff Ingraham, Pam Krambeck and Robbie Jensen of ESU 3. The trio showed off tips and tricks to get more out of Google and the Chrome web browser. Here are three of my favorites.

Extensions to Download:

CiteItForMe: This is a great extension that lets you generate a citation for a webpage in a variety of citation styles. Great for WMS and WHS students!

QR Code Generator: This extension allows you to generate a QR code for any website you are on. Much easier than having to go to a separate website!

MoveIt!: How often do we sit on the computer for too long? Well MoveIt! is an extensions designed to prevent that. Once it is installed you can select how long you are allowed to sit for. After that period of time, your screen will be taken over with directions to get up and complete an exercise. During another session, a presenter had this installed and the whole group had to do jumping jacks half way through! It was a great way to get the blood flowing!

Are You an App Barista?

I knew going into this session it was going to rock based on the title alone. How can you not enjoy something involving a coffee house? It didn’t disappoint. Shelly and Heather presented on how to be creative when deciding to incorporate iPad apps into your lesson design.

One thing to take away from this session was the idea that as we examine our lessons, a way to decide when to spice things up is to ask, would I be willing to buy a ticket to attend my own classroom lesson? Well, if you wouldn’t, then it might be time to spice things up and increase the creativity of the lesson!

We also need to acknowledge that it’s okay to fail! incorporating technology is hard work and it won’t always go smoothly and thats A-OK! Learn, adapt, modify and try again. Check out their Google Slide presentation for many examples of how to add a ‘shot’ of technology to create creative lessons in your own class!