Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Podcast Episode 004. WITcon18

Learn about #WITcon18 in Episode 4 - all about our Whatever It Takes Conference!

Leyden High School District
Follow Bryan Weinert on Twitter

WITcon18 Keynote Speakers

Lindsey Jensen 


March 20, 2018 E.004

Hi! This is Matt Jacobson, Technology Curriculum & Professional Development Coordinator for Galesburg Community Unit School District 205 in Galesburg, Illinois. We’re Talking Tech & Learning in 205 again today on Anchor.FM! This is your home for daily professional learning updates, tech tips, and teaching ideas to help further the learning of our students and the teachers who serve them. I’m glad you could join us today!

Today I'd like to share a Shameless plug for our local whatever it takes conference or WITcon18 which will be held this year March 13 14 and 15 in Galesburg Illinois. WITcon is a grass-roots conference that was conceived on a cocktail napkin after a visit to Leyden East High School in the Chicago suburbs. We visited Leyden East when we were exploring are migration toward one-to-one computing. Leyden was one of the first schools to adopt Chromebooks for their students several years ago. their implementation model has become the boilerplate for successful 1 to 1 migration for schools throughout the nation. After leading several visits by our staff to Leyden a core group of us were chatting and we wondered aloud, “we are already doing a lot of the things they're training us to start.” And we wondered, “how many other schools could benefit from the information we have gained through our brief experience in one-to-one digital learning environments.” Further, we also knew that there were a lot of really great things happening in schools in and around our small Western Illinois region. So we thought, why don't we hold our own conference? I contacted Leyden’s technology director Brian Weinert at Leyden High School District, and asked him point-blank if we could steal his school’s conference ideas. I remember Brian laughing at me over the phone. Brian was a great help in getting this crazy idea off the ground, and thanks to his encouragement we are now gearing up for our third annual conference. Bryan, if you’re listening, you and your team are always welcome in Galesburg! 

We also couldn’t pull off this conference without the cooperation of Carl Sandburg College, and the PD Consortium of Regional Office of Education #33 & #26. This public-ed/higher-ed collaboration is helping educators share their stories and improve their craft, benefiting thousands of children throughout Illinois. 

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A little over a hundred teachers attended our first conference. Our conference was opened by then Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis. we had dozens of breakout sessions by teachers from across Illinois. we also enjoyed the high-energy ideas of the 2016 Illinois teacher of the year Kimberly Thomas. our friend and Nash of Google Chicago closed our conference with a Hands on look at Google Expeditions and Google cardboard. That first conference was an amazing success. We had attendees from all over the Midwest including Iowa South Dakota and Colorado.

At last year's event, we had over 300 teachers  attend to enjoy breakout sessions by nearly a hundred Regional educators, Keynotes bye the 2017 Illinois teacher of the Year Ricky Castro, and the amazing author, journalist and speaker Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook and Ditch That Homework. These two gentlemen held sessions that were standing room only. We will not make that mistake again, I guarantee.  Participants came from all across Illinois and from as far away as the West Coast.The turnout was amazing and the quality of the sessions continued to be second to none.

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This year's format will be a little bit different. Are General Conference sessions will start at 9 a.m. on Thursday June 14th and Friday June 15th. These conference sessions will be about 60 minutes long and will run all day long. on Wednesday June 13th, we will have pre-conference sessions. Will have sessions on developing data centers to support one-to-one technology, how to utilize game-based learning in the classroom, creating classroom videos. developing personalized self-paced learning opportunities, learning through writing mobile apps, teaching about well being and values, and we will also hold a Future Ready Summit. Our regular conference registration fee is $99 for 2 days of high quality breakout sessions along with an extra $50 if you would like to attend a pre-conference session. on Thursday evening we will have a fun special activity for our conference attendees along with an evening social at a local microbrew.

You can learn more about our whatever it takes conference at www.witconf.org. You won't find more affordable high-quality professional learning anywhere in the Midwest. We hope you will consider joining us in June in Galesburg for #WITcon18.

Thanks again for listening. Feel free to drop in and listen tomorrow!

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