Do I have any tips from the McAuliffe conference?

I am back at school from the annual 3 day whirlwind Christa McAuliffe conference in Nashua, NH. This is the first year that I attended for 3 days. Now I know what I have been missing all these years. It’s a must do for educators who want to add information to their toolboxes. I will share some that I can remember quickly. is a great place to get copyright free pictures. All pictures are checked carefully so that teachers can feel a sense of security when kids search for images for their projects. Pics4learning also asks that you consider sending pictures that you have taken of your community or of different interesting spots that you have visited. Kids in all parts of the world may be searching for pictures from your area and wouldn’t it be cool if your photos were chosen to be used? I think it’s a great place to import, export and share!

Another website by the same people is: Many good ideas can be found for free. Give it a try! Thanks to Denise MacDevette.

From Paula Churchill, I learned about using This is a free tool for teachers to teach animation. With this tool and a USB webcam, a (paper) snowman can be easily dressed by students while taking one pic at a time, and then running the simple animation software. She used another example: using a picture of a tree trunk and then gradually adding paper leaves of different colors to show the seasons. Paula also cleverly uses old desk lamps and inserts the eyeball cameras into them so that the cameras can hover over the subject and pictures can be quickly and easily taken by hitting the space bar. Great stuff!

Kathleen McClaskey who is a legend in the field gave us simple, easy ways to record children’s voices using headsets. This used to be very easy before getting Mac minis. These do not come with headphones so it’s been a pain to capture students reading. Now I have four that I bought last month and one more this week. With Kathleen’s great nudging, I feel that we will be much more successful!

Kathleen also mentioned the importance of visual glossaries. There are many words, ideas, concepts that kids have a hard time wrapping their brains around. If the kids have a picture right next to the word they are much more likely to be able to understand the meaning. Great idea!

Maria Knee and Sharon Betts gave us great ideas and ways to use Voicethread with our classes. This will also be easier with my new headsets. I am looking forward to using this great tool again.

Lauren Kenney reminded me of Google sketch up. I had forgotten about this fabulous application with all the new things I have been learning! I revisited it this morning and will plug this into my teaching.

Of course, I learned more about Scratch. I find that sitting in workshops and hearing how others are using it isn’t as helpful as me sitting down and puzzling it through on my own. I am glad I went to the two workshops but I need to sit down and play and ponder on my own. However, it was great to see Tammie Patten, my friend from grad school, again. It’s cool that we are teaching some of the same things!

My friend Jenn went to hear about and was very excited to learn about it. That was a reminder for me because I had forgotten about it, myself!

Deb Boisvert told us about Sakai, an open source program that would work for portfolio storage. It sounds very good but her district had to pay quite a bit to get it customized so not sure it’s a viable answer for us. I loved seeing the possibilities, though.

Liz B Davis shared how important her PLN (personal learning network) is to her professionally and gave us opportunities to grow our own. Liz gave many examples of why tapping into your PLN can help you and your teaching practice. She also mentioned how much fun it is to have so many people to ask help of and to offer help when needed. She also provided us an opportunity to dance. It’s been awhile since I have danced at a workshop so thanks, Liz!

I received an ee pc. My curiosity got the best of me so now I have a new operating system (Linux) to play around with. I met a nice man who had a 9 hour drive back to Maine who helped me get Scratch on it. It took him a couple of hours which leads me to believe that I am already in over my head!

Congratulations to all who put on such a terrific conference!



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