The convention also helped me realize that I'm on the right track with the blended classroom model I am trying to develop. Before the convention, I based my practice for this model on the research I've been doing independently. Now that I have been able to interface with like minds who have been doing this longer, I have found new ideas that I can inject.
I also found out how I can use social networking tools to keep my PD personalized and up to date. I am trying to make a habit out of using Twitter to start building my personal learning network (PLN). This allows me to get information in real time about things I'm interested in learning about. I have even been getting incidental information about things I didn't know were out there.
I wish our school would open up social networking to our professional staff so I could show them what I'm learning. Right now, the way it stands, I would have to capture video on my computer from home and bring in the video if I wanted to show them. Too many road "blocks" in place right now.
I also like the idea of a senior academy as a means to help our seniors transition to a world of work and independent learning. A nay-sayer this morning at the teacher's table said "We had that at our old school and we found that the kids were packing in all their required classes their first 3 years so they can make their senior year as light as possible." And my response was "Really? They started planning their freshman year with the end in mind? They tried to manage their time so that they can graduate on time?" I was probably a bit too snarky, but the point was that is what we want them to do! We have students here that are on the 6-year plan because they drag their feet through the mud, not seeing a value in taking their classes, doing well in them and going in to the world ready to work. But if they get a motivation, like a light senior year, to start working in their classes so they can do better, finish them on time, and then have a lighter senior year then yeah!
But the point of senior academy is not only to open the campus for our seniors who don't have classes, but also to free up their time so they can work on that in-depth senior project. It frees them up to do community service which will help them become competitive for scholarships, or prepare them to be good citizens. It gives them some independence to learn how to juggle school and work, much like they will have to when they go to college. Sometimes I think we are not really preparing them to be independent with their time. They finish high school with every minute of their day planned for them and then three years later they are like lost lambs on a college campus trying to figure out where and when they are supposed to be someplace.