So I finally made it to GETCA, the Greater Edmonton Teachers' Conference, after being barred last year (long story, but apparently not all Ed students are equal when it comes to eligibility to attend). As far as conferences go, GETCA is as traditional as one can get conference-wise (no unconferencing here) with multiple parallel sessions, exhibitors galore and big name keynote speakers. With up to five concurrent sessions at any given time, over 300 sessions and around 8500 teachers (give or take) GETCA is The professional development event of the year for teachers from all across Alberta.
Two days and 150 tweets later the time has come to digest and reflect back on my first GETCA experience. Needless to say, I learned a tonne and while not every session I attended was earth shattering a few of the speakers stood out and truly expanded my mind as to what is possible in a classroom and how I can improve my practice. Briefly, the sessions that were in a class above the rest and that particularly resonated with me were Derek Keenan's sessions on Project based learning as a teaching philosophy (slides here), Anna Hayes and Nick Riemann's session at the Alberta Art Gallery on Combining art & science: Creating Science Discovery Journals (slides here) and Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell's session on How Do we Work with the Parent? Respectful Scripts to Use with Parents.
All in all GETCA 2015 left me with lots of ideas and leads to classroom practices that I would like to explore in greater detail. It also, however, left me quite unsatisfied. Out of the 300+ sessions I managed to whittle it down to 50 sessions that seemed particularly interesting and in the end I was only able to attend 8 of these..., that is around 3% of all the sessions or 16% of the short listed sessions. Although a few of the talks I attended left a lot to be desired many of the talks were very good. It bugs me knowing that out of the 42 shortlisted sessions that I was unable to attend many were likely to be stellar. In the end it seems like GETCA is an exercise in cramming in as many speakers as possible, with as many attendees as possible in as short time as possible. Notwithstanding this I thoroughly enjoyed myself and are already looking forward to next year's event.
Science classrooms are unique learning environments unlike any other classrooms. As a matter of fact, some things only happen in science classrooms. Here is a collection of event that happened in my own science classroom over the last school year. It's a growing list, so check back for updates.
Report from yours truly live-tweeting and navigating the melee at GETCA 2015 (Annual Greater Edmonton Teachers' Conference).
Can a pencil be more than just your average run of the mill pencil? The legendary Palomino Blackwing Pearl can take a student or teacher's writing to new heights. We have taken a batch of the Pearls for a spin and are blown away by how much writing and sketching can be transformed by this unassuming pencil.
Dr. Pineda's Classroom is going YouTube with the release of its first screencast on the exciting topic of calculating percents. Only time will tell if this is the start of something big and shiny or just a passing fad.
After several weeks working on setting up habitats for new classroom animals the big day finally arrived. The newest addition to our classroom include aquatic denizens in our new aquarium and a teenage bearded dragon with lots of attitude and no table manners.