Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Edge of Chaos-#CUE15

Some reflections on my first trip to CUE:

Let's get this party started right: 3:00 minutes on the clock  with 
@jcorippo and @HallDavidson. I arrived a little late to my first session of CUE15, so I missed the intro of what was going on here. People were coming up from the audience, with device in hand, to explain some tech tool that they love. It was fast paced and a great introduction to the weekend of learning. I wrote down a long list of things to look up online and figure out on my own, which I am fine with. If you want a complete, step-by-step explanation of how things work, you might not appreciate this PD format. For me, it was the best kick-off PD format ever:  "Weapons of Mass Instruction" (watch the session on CUE's YouTube Channel).

   Some of the highlights from this session:  Thinglink online and in APP format, DuoLingo for ELLS, Zaption, TelegamiGoogle Cultural InstituteYahki, how to Google search like a boss, and how to turn your head phones into a mic. Some of the people who came up for their three minutes of fame were presenters at the conference, so it allowed you a sneak peek at what was to come.

Sugata Mitra-Keynote Speaker
   I was only able to get to one of the three keynote speakers. Everyone was talking about how amazing the speakers were that I missed, but luckily they are all posted on the CUE YouTube channel. I was sorry to have missed Jennie Magiera's Uptown FunkAdam Bellow was the final keynote, but I had a flight to catch and missed it. I'm listening to it as I write this and he is talking about the Digital Divide: "The digital divide is about educational justice." He talks fast and the speech spans a broad array of hot topics.

   The online schedule and the mobile app were extremely useful tools for managing my time and getting to as many sessions as possible. I marked three sessions that I was going to for each time block in the schedule app on my phone. I was so glad that I did because some sessions were so full there wasn't even room to sit on the floor, some sessions didn't turn out to be about what I thought they would be. The Pinterest session, for example, I LOVE Pinterest. I was excited to hear about some thing I could be doing with Pinterest that I am not. The speaker was nice enough to announce that the session was for beginners, and off I was to my back-up session.  You can also download presentation notes, slides, docs, etc through the scheduling app, so when there's more than one session that you want to go to, you can at least get the notes from the session you miss. I added links to some of them in my CUE15 notes.

   Many of the sessions that I wanted to see were very full. If you are going to CUE and you are thinking, Palm Springs, I'm packing sundresses you might want to include pants. You are most likely going to have to sit on the floor at some point in time, or miss a session.  I learned to get to the sessions I really wanted to be able to see about 30 minutes early. Here I am diligently taking notes on an infographic design session from the very back of the room and you can see even the floor is pretty full. Getting lunch was also kind of frustrating the first day. I didn't want to miss a session waiting in line for lunch for 45 minutes. The second day I had snacks galore in my tech bag and a refillable glass water bottle because I'm not trying to add to the plastic continent that's growing out in the Pacific.
   If you miss a session, many are offered as mini-sessions at the CUE booth in the exhibit hall. I happened upon one about using the DoInk app to make green screens. It's not the greatest way to get information on a topic because it's loud, crowded, you're in an exhibit hall, and its a 10-15 min session. It's fine for an introduction to an idea. I had a student help me figure out how to use the DoInk app when I came back to school. Students are such great resources when it comes to tech. They are always teaching me new things.  
   Here is a link to my notes from the conference filled with links to presenters' materials and various web sites: CUE15 Notes

Some things I would do differently next year:

   First of all, going to CUE is a little like going to Disneyland, you can't ride every single ride in one visit to the park. I was frenzied and frazzled trying to get on as many rides as possible and it took some of the fun out of it. I spent a lot of time worrying about getting to as many sessions as possible. I think it's okay to take a session break and sit by the pool with your laptop and revise your notes and explore links from a previous session while it's still fresh in your mind. 
   Plan ahead and get accommodations near the conference. There's a great pool, karaoke, and all sorts of networking and fun to be had with fellow attendees. I think I could get more out of the experience by meeting people and making some new friends as Jennie Magiera explains in the opening of her keynote speech.  I think I could plan better next year and make developing connections with people a priority. There is so much to be learned from what other teachers/schools are doing if you get out of your bubble and start those conversations. We were 40 minutes away from the conference and exhausted from information overload each evening and had to get up at 5:30 AM to get back for the first sessions the next morning. Schedule some time for fun, and don't feel guilty about it, it's important for teachers to connect.
   I really wanted to get to some presentations about designing engaging professional development. I would've liked to see more of it in practice in the sessions. There were a good amount of sessions that followed the old here's a slideshow sit and watch it while I talk format, but several sessions that I attended were more interactive. It seemed I wasn't the only one interested in how we can be doing professional development better. I showed up to one session on the topic 30 minutes early and couldn't even get in the door to see if there was room on the floor. It was refreshing to at least be able to use your phone, tablet, or laptop during the sessions. That sort of thing is generally discouraged during staff meeting style PD. 

And the Learning Continues in the Airport:

   It was great to get to have a conversation, ask questions and solicit advice from someone who you look up to as a pioneer in education. I tried to be cool despite my "educrush" but I did ask for a picture. It was like being a minor league ball player and meeting a hall of famer-I couldn't help it. I remember learning about Kathy Schrock's Shrock Guides when I was going to school to be a teacher, but I won't say how long ago that was for both of our sakes.

Five ways CUE15 has impacted my teaching and learning in the month following the conference:

1. Kahoot! 
I had my students write their own test questions and used their questions to build a Kahoot! on the civilizations of Mesoamerica. They love to Kahoot! I also made a survey Kahoot! for the staff. As the only attendee from my school, I'm expected to share my learning at a staff meeting. I decided Kahoot! would be the easiest thing to start with and I made a survey called "Bringing CUE to You". This will allow the staff to try out the tool in the meeting and allow me to get a better picture of what the staff is interested in learning about from the conference. I realize I am a little late to the Kahoot! party, but better late than never. Quizziz is also on my check this out list, but I haven't gotten to it yet.
2. iMovie and DoInk: 
My media class is making movie trailers that highlight the electives offered in 6th grade for the 5th grade middle school orientation visit. The best one so far is the PE spoof on "The Maze Runner" that we have dubbed "The Mile Runner". My history class is writing songs/raps about the Mesoamericans and we are going to film the performances and have a Mesoamerican Idol contest. We are using the DoInk app to put some awesome green screen effects in our videos. I think we might have to enter the CUE Media Festival next year.
3. Infographics:
My English class read a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle and we watched a Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century cartoon version of the story. They are analyzing changes in the setting and how that affected other plot elements. They are working in small groups to create an infographic to show the comparisons of a 19th century version vs. a 22nd century version of a story and it's characters. It's way cooler than a Venn diagram.
4. Animoto: 
I made a really amazing video showcasing student learning for Open House next month. I plan to share this with my fellow teachers as well, so that they can also have great evidence of student learning to share with parents.
5. Tweet Deck:  
I was already an active Twitter user before the conference, but I was able to learn about tweet deck which has been useful in managing chats. I also learned about setting up a district chat from the people at #ssdchat. I'm not sure that my district has an interest in it at this point in time, but I am ready to help make it happen when there is more of an interest in Twitter. I'm still in the convincing teachers that Twitter is an amazing resource for free PD and that there is a global professional learning network right there if you just click on that little blue bird.

I'm looking forward to creating Thinglinks and Infographics for some flipped PD sessions in my district, becoming a Google certified teacher, and creating a course in iTunes U in the upcoming months.

It was an amazing weekend and I came back to school with so many ideas. I'm looking forward to CUE16.

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