I recently attended the Lausanne Laptop Institute for the first time. It's a pretty big international gathering of educators in Memphis, TN. Despite the crazy heat it was a very enjoyable experience.
Four educators about whom I learned
Jeff is a talented presenter and an educator with great perspective on global and social education. He gave a great keynote address and his breakout sessions were almost like mini-keynotes. If he is presenting at a conference that you are attending I highly recommend listening to him. The point that I found most interesting was when Jeff mentioned that independent schools in the US do not take enough advantage of international schools when exploring other cultures and countries. He continued to say that there are connections waiting to be made and that they should be leveraged.
The interesting organizations and projects which Julene is involved in are too numerous to list. She is a great resource on environmental and sustainability issues, but is also an educator who really understands how to make learning experiences meaningful. She is also an Apple Distinguished Educator who is very keyed in to iPads in educational settings.
Lynn is an educator from a school in St. Louis. All of the tools and instructional ideas she presented were grounded in current educational theory and research. I appreciate how she made the connections meaningful for her participants. There a lot of great resources and ideas on her wiki.
Elizabeth is from the same school as Lynn and is also a wealth of information and resources. A colleague of mine attended a session where she presented information about the Technology Toolkit, a framework for the tech integration at their school. Elizabeth also has lots of information about games that can be used in educational settings.
And two things about Memphis that I loved...
National Civil Rights Museum
This is one of the best museum experiences I have ever had. You genuinely feel as if you have been transported back in time and the museum curators have done a great job of telling a story as you walk through the different displays. The photo above was taken by me looking at the balcony where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. The museum is in the hotel and the room where MLK was staying has been reconstructed and preserved to look exactly as it did on that day.
Rendevous' Charcoal Ribs
The other three things I am going to list here have to do with food. Rendevous' ribs are by far the most delicious pork ribs I have ever eaten. They are seasoned with a special dry rub, broiled in a charcoal oven for 2-3 hours. and then rubbed again in seasoning before being served.
I remember dissecting both a rat (on a 6th grade nature retreat) and a frog (in 9th grade biology). Punflay.com has two dissection apps available for the iPad which I think do a great job of recreating the physical and visual experiences of performing an animal dissection. I was actually happy that they did not include realistic sounds when using the scissors or scalpel (yech!), but now I wonder if the sounds would have contributed to the experience.
Frog Dissection ($3.99)
From pinning the specimen down to drawing the incision lines with a marker to lifting folds of skin and organs, every aspect of a frog dissection has been thoughtfully and realistically replicated in this app. The dissection is guided with text, audio, and visual prompts. I made the mistake of playing with the app right after eating lunch. If you get squeamish about these things, the realism might actually get to you!
The program has received recognition from PETA (probably for saving some frogs) and from some sustainability and "green" groups. Kudos to the developers for creating a virtual experience that has impact larger than just flashy design.
There are additional features included in the purchase such as 3D demos and guided activities and it looks like they add more with updates every now and then.
Rat Dissection $3.99
Poor rat! The interface in the Rat Dissection app is slightly different than the Frog Dissection app (I happen to prefer the Frog interface to the Rat interface). The visual and kinesthetic experiences are very powerful and like the Frog app, it helps keep a few more rats a live.
The realism (click the iTunes store link above) is pretty solid. Some people may complain that you are not allowed to stray from the prescribed instructions, but I think it could be detract from the goal if kids were allowed to mutilate their virtual dissection specimens (which is what usually happens in an actual science class).
Header photo by Robert S. Donovan