Thursday, June 30, 2005

Leaving Philly

Yesterday was a relaxing day. I actually slept in and it felt great. I timed it just right to get a Philly Cheese Steak at Rick’s in the Reading Terminal. This was my third attempt. The first day I tried there was nearly and hour wait in line. The second time I went later in the day, like about 2:30 and they were sold out and closing. It was really good. 3 friends from Utah were like 4 people behind me so we were able to talk during lunch. I went and spent the next 45 minutes with a vendor that we buy software from looking at their new and updated products.
This brings me to the issue of the exhibition floor. I spent less than 1 hour total in the exhibit hall. The reason is that it has looked basically the same for the last 3 years. There are slight updates to software, there are all kinds of solutions to help you mine your data for NCLB, there are 8,000 different kinds of students response systems. There is just nothing new or exciting. I felt it much more worth my time to spend my time in sessions. I did not gather one pin, one t-shirt, one demo disk, or catalog. Nada, nothing, Zip. My kids are going to be really disappointed.
I was able to attend David Warlick’s spotlight session on Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century. I have read over this material several times, but David does a great job of presenting it with passion, so it was great to see him present it. I blogged the session, but when I posted it through the Dash Blog widget it got lost. So I will point you instead to the SEGA Tech blog for their blog of the session.
I then went to a presentation call Professional Development in your Pajamas. This is where my policy for this conference really bit me in the butt. I made a pledge I would not walk out of a session I had chosen unless it was so awful. Well this one wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be either. It was basically a team from a district in San Antonio describing a grant project they had developed and worked on. They spent the hour going over the project and not really talking much about the PD piece of the project. I really should have broken my pledge for this one. I have already blogged about the Action in the Classroom session so you can view that on it’s own. It really was pretty good. I went to the beginning of the Podcasting Birds-of-a-Feather session. This was facilitated by Mike Lawrence, the Executive Director of CUE. He basically turned it into a conversational forum. Unfortunately I had to leave after about 15 minutes to go to dinner with our district group. One of the first things I heard though bothered me a little. A representative from a publisher got up and asked and talked about interest in them producing their materials in audio format. I wanted to scream. Although I can see some educational benefit in them doing so, the whole idea of these companies charging huge amounts of money for this ticks me off.
Our district group had our yearly NECC dinner together at the City Tavern. This is one of the most famous restaurants in Philadelphia. It is actually a reconstruction of the Old City Tavern. The tavern was a gathering place for many of the founding fathers after long days of try to create a democracy. The original tavern actually burned and was rebuilt several times. The last time it burned the property sat for some time. Finally the park service decided to rebuild it and make an eating establishment out of it. The meal was a 3 course affair beginning with a selection of appetizers ranging from crabcakes to ham wrapped asparagus. I then selected the Cream of Mushroom soup for my next course and it was wonderful. I selected the Turkey Pot Pie for my main course and was surprised at the size of it. It was delicious. Finally for dessert I chose the Chocolate Mousse Cake with a raspberry drizzle. Again it was fantastic. I absolutely rolled out of the place afterwards. It was a good thing we walked there and back from our hotel about 15 blocks each way.
To cap the evening I attended the Podcast mixer that Steve Dembo at Teach42 organized. All four of us had a good time conversing together. I thought we would gather a few more, but it was great spending more time with Steve.
This morning I got up and took the 90 min. open bus tour. I hadn’t done anything really touristy, so I felt like I should probably see a little more of the city. I am kind of wishing that I had went to a couple of session instead, but oh well. I did get to see the stage for the Live 8 concert this weekend. If i though Philly was a little wild this week, it is going to be absolutely nuts this weekend, I am glad we were able to get out of town.
Although getting out of town was a little more difficult than anticipated. We made sure we got to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. Then came about two hours of standing in line to get our boarding passes gathered and bags checked. In the middle of this we noticed that our flight was delayed. First 30 minutes and then an hour. This actually worked to our benefit as it took us so long to get through United’s ticket line.The adventure was not quite over yet though. We had a connecting flight in Chicago and with the original flight time we only had about 40 minutes to switch flights and at different terminals to boot. Well we found out that our connecting fligh was slightly delayed as well, so we felt better. We loaded on the jet and backed from the gate, started to taxi and then stopped. We sat on the tarmac for a little over an hour. The pilot finally explained that there were several weather related delays particularly related to flights in and out of Chicago. About 3 1/2 hours after our original departure time, we left Philly. We were imagining that we would not be getting out of Chicago until late tonight. However, we were informed that our connecting flight had been substantially delayed as well and we would make it. We made not quite a mad dash from Terminal B to Terminal F in Chicago, but made the flight in plenty of time. So I will get this posted tonight.
For me this conference was about the workshops and sessions attended and most especially about the people I was able to meed after reading and listening to their online work. I will remember it for friendships made and ideas shared. I am looking forward to San Diego next year already.
See You in a Few!


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