My 5 Big Take-Aways from Podstock 2011

#edtech #elearning #podstock2011 "I never been in Kansas," I thought to myself as I crossed the border from Colorado into Kansas. I was making the pilgrimage to Podstock, an edtech conference that I had never been to in hopes of inspiration and ideas to take back to my school in Colorado. The outside temperature gauge on my dash kept creeping up as I got closer to Wichita,  104... 105... 106... "How hot is it in Kansas?" was my thought as I pulled into my hotel.

Walking into the small convention center in the "old town" part of Wichita was like coming home, the organizers welcomed me like a long lost friend. Which is why I prefer smaller edtech conventions to the big ones. The "theme" of this years Podstock was "50's Diner." I stepped up to the VW bus replica and they took my name as if I was in a diner and they slid my order to the back of the bus. Soon I heard a "bing" from a short-order cook's bell and I was handed my order (registration info and swag) in a white paper bag.

From this first moment to the last -- Podstock was amazing!

Here are my five big take-aways from this great conference:

1. Through Failure Comes Success - Often times we try to protect our students from failure, which can rob them of an incredible learning  opportunity. We must find ways to allow our students to fail in controlled environments that can teach them to think creatively for solutions.

2. Learning Maps Vs. Lesson Plans - Lesson plans cannot keep up with some of the new methods of teaching and learning, instead we need to think of learning maps. Maps that allows students to go off in different directions but still know where the end destination is.

3. Edmodo is Awesome - My first session I attended was on Edmodo and 15 minutes into it I had decided that my whole trip out to Podstock was worth it. I had seen Edmodo before, but this presenter did such a good job in showing all the ways it can work in a school that I found myself mentally checking off in my head all the problems that Edmodo would solve for me this coming school year.

4. Project Based Learning Rules - I recommitted myself to teach more PBL style when I saw what other teachers were doing in their classrooms. I have alway believed in PBL, so I have spent the last few days working on and improving some of my projects to be better. Podstock was the kick in the rear I needed to keep me going in the right direction.

5. Building a Personal Learning Network is Critical to Teaching Success - The people who attended Podstock are one big family. I have expanded my PLN with these wonderful people that will help me be a better teacher by providing support, ideas and inspiration. A teacher without a PLN is really fighting a battle alone, together we are way better than by ourselves.

So there you have it, my big take-aways from Podstock 2011. Now excuse me while I go and work on my new lesson maps for the coming school year.

- Brad Flickinger, Bethke Elementary School

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