Today was a more directed day for me -- it seemed like all of the very specific sessions I wanted to attend were today versus more overall ones yesterday. The most direct session I attended was on Literary Worlds, what seem like effective and fun virtual worlds tied to literature. The session focused on Things Fall Apart, and I cannot wait to enter my stduents into the world. The main reason is the wealth of visuals and audio. The creator found pictures from a photographer who chronicled colonial Africa in the 1800s, and this is exactly what my students need to truly experience what Achebe hoped -- to identify with the Africans more than the white man. There are also great African songs playing in each of the rooms. By assuming one of 49 characters from the novel, the students navigate the world of Umofia. I will be sure to let you know how it goes when I try it in April. There are many other novels on the site too, so look around and see if one works for you. All you and your students need are computers and a browser. Couldn't be simpler!
I also attended the tail-end of a session on laptop schools, and it was gratifying to feel like the "old-timer" there. Schools who are considering moving in this direction were asking questions, and hearing others' answers and sharing my own reminded me how far we have come in successfully implementing our 1:1 program. Yes, we are still growing and improving everyday, but I cannot imagine teaching without laptops.
I ended my day with a tour of the Alamo -- what a beautiful place. The trees are breathtaking -- they look like the olive trees I saw all over Italy. I picked up cowboy hats for my two kids and an Alamo bandana for my husband -- I am bringing some of my Texan roots home to them.
Tomorrow morning is the Commission on Composition meeting then I head home. A fast and great conference. Next year is Philadelphia, and I think I can get at least one more teacher from my department to be able to come with me because we could maybe stay with my sister (read: free). It will be great to share this with a colleague -- twice the sessions, twice the learning, twice the growth for us as teachers.