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Glen attracts 1,000 for conference

WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Central School District hosted the 29th annual New York State Middle School Association Conference, bringing to Watkins over 1,000 educators from all over the state and the new state education Commissioner David Steiner.
The conference lasted three days, from Oct. 22 to 24. The first day comprised pre-conference workshops, registration, and a banquet at the Harbor Hotel. The next day educators went to workshops at the high school. While students had the Friday off, many were at the school performing, selling food, or directing people in the right direction. A number of teachers from the area, including Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour, Hammondsport, Dundee and Penn Yan, ran workshops with the other educators last Friday. Steiner was present at the conference activities Thursday, but visited Odessa-Montour and BOCES the next day. Half of Saturday also saw a few more workshops before the conference ended.
Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips said the last time the conference was in this area was in Binghamton in 2001. He explained each year it rotates all over the state, usually going to cities like Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo.
“Every so often it comes to the central Southern Tier,” he said.
Phillips said the conference is to promote the best practices in middle level education. He said the focus was also on the techniques of the seven essential elements, a method used at Watkins Glen. Of the 114 workshops, Phillips said the vast majority are done by teachers. The topics covered included finding free or cheap classroom materials, examining the area watershed, using technology for immediate assessment of work, and improving students’ understanding of middle level math. Phillips explained teachers applied to a committee to be able to present, with very few not being approved.
Myron Rumsey, director of technology at Odessa-Montour, presented on the use of the Promeathean ActivBoards. He was joined by Andrew Ziemba, educational consultant for Promethean/Logical Choice Technologies. The two showed teachers how the ActivBoards can be used in class. Another area teacher to present was Barbara Recchio-Demmin, Hammondsport Spanish teacher. She spoke about an online media album called VoiceThread that students can use to interact and share documents, video and photos. She added the students can get feedback from people around the world, with outside comments monitored for content.
Phillips said Watkins was chosen to host this year’s conference because of the size of its facilities. While the workshops were run Friday at the school, a trade show was also held in the Field House. Phillips added Watkins had technology available to make the conference possible. He said a committee visited the school district to help in the decision.


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