Unleash The Superhero In You - NYSCATE 2016


The theme for the 2016 annual conference of the New York State Association For Computers And Technologies In Education (NYSCATE) was "Unleash The Superhero In You." This effective branding throughout the conference hall — and the colorful capes given to every attendee — spoke volumes to the notion of teachers as heroes in seizing opportunities and embracing technology, and often struggling against the curmudgeonly villains standing in their ways.

After three days of sessions and keynotes, kiosks and meet-ups, it was more clear than ever that educators are feeling they have the necessary tools to invigorate the learning potential of their students. Every teacher we met was excited to try a new web app or a backchannel to decentralize daily instruction. As Chromebooks catch up to (or surpass) iOS devices, the Google Apps For Education (GAFE) suite of tools is clearly permeating state-wide districts. As videos and online media put information squarely in the hands of learners, both children and teachers feel more empowered than ever to chart their own courses in meeting the various standards.

For our part, we are grateful to the 60+ participants who sat on the floor and stood against the walls for our presentation on Sunday, November 20, 2016, about “Student Videos & Animations Empower Creativity.” We apologize to those who were turned away for space reasons, and we have put all of our resources and slides online to share with any interested parties. Thank you to all of the attendees for the insightful questions and terrific recommendations about lessons and tools related to student projects and videos.

In hearing from the other experts in the terrific workshops during the conference, highlights that stood out included the tips on formative assessments from Steve Garton (@sgarton121) and Jeff Mao (@jmao121) of Common Sense Education, as well as the annual App Smackdown from Rich Colosi (@richardcolosi), Ryan Orilio (@ryanorilio), Mike Amante (@mamante), and Monica Burns (@classtechtips).

Other eye-opening sessions were engaging the writing process using Google Apps, WeVideo, and Recap with Megan Hugg (@Megan Hugg) and Lindsey Peet (@LindsMariePeet); liberating students from paper using ePortfolios with Betsy Hardy; and tapping the lesser-known features of Google with Carol LaRow (@larowc). Student coding, blended writing, and shared collaboration also emerged as recurring themes within the high-quality professional development. Perhaps the keynote comment by Adam Bellow (@adambellow) summed it up best, "Technology does not drive change; it just enables it."

Source: ASIDE 2016

The lake-effect snowstorm that blanketed downtown may have kept some New Yorkers homebound, but it made for a tight-knit group in the warm confines of the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center. It also meant that Dinosaur BBQ was blissfully quiet on Sunday night, as we savored our favorite fried green tomatoes and spicy pulled pork. Pane Vino on North Water Street continued to rank as one of the best restaurants anywhere in the nation. And we also recommend Starry Nites Cafe in the arts district as a short hop away for a quick latte and chicken chili after perusing handmade jewelry at Craft Company No. 6.

Finally, we want once again to give a big shout out of thanks to the NYSCATE conference organizers for all they did in staging this seamless annual get-together. The smoothy run sessions and the high-quality breakfast / lunch / dinner included in the overall fee, as well as the warm welcomes and conversations throughout the event, confirmed once again why this is the best confab of the year. See you in 2017.