March 16-18 was Spring CUE, a California educator conference. There were many great sessions to choose from. In addition to all the great sessions, I was able to reconnect with friends. The night before the conference a few friends and I were able to have a fantastic dinner at our traditional ‘night before the conference starts’ restaurant. And it did NOT disappoint.
When I say that there was lots of love for MathReps, I’m not kidding. It felt like it was everywhere. I was not the only person presenting on it. It was in sessions, in the exhibit hall with the vendors, and people talking about them. It was everywhere! The vendor one was cool. As a friend and I were checking out the different booths, she stops me, points to an interactive whiteboard, and says, “Hey, that’s your stuff.” She was right. It was a 3rd-grade MathRep. I chatted with the vendor for a bit. I introduced myself to the person who displayed it. He commented on how he enjoys showing it on the boards because it’s so user-friendly
I was able to present MathReps and Comic Strip Math on the last day. There was lots of interest and lots of great questions. Several attendees wanted to know where they could purchase the book. Fortunately, on the book image, I had a link to Amazon.
A few weeks ago I was able to get together with a few of my closest #EdTech friends. I say friends, but really they are more like family. They are my tribe. I learn from them, I grow because of them, and THEY are my people.
This is my reflection.
It always takes me a bit to process all that I have seen, heard, and learned at one of these conferences. Not only was I able to learn from some of the best, innovative educators around, I was blessed to be able to share my love of #HyperMaps with others as well.
I believe this was my 8th year attending. A drop in the bucket as CUE is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. They did it up in style! There were many nods to the originating year: the logo, to the Alludo ‘Groove’ game, to the display at CUE Hub.
As a result of going, I am incorporating new techniques and strategies in my classroom. One such item is Classcraft. This is a behavior management/game/parent communication tool (and so much more). I had heard of it before but never took the time to check it out. As a part of the Groove game (which my competitive nature drives me to participate in), I checked it out. I was able to talk to co-founder Shawn Young and gain some further insight. Needless to say, I was intrigued and am giving it a go.
Another solution came in the form of a hallway chat with Sam Patterson. He is my go-to person for all things MakerSpace. I didn’t have a MakerSpace problem; I had a Genius Hour problem and KNEW Sam was the person who would have a solution. Sure enough, he did. For years I have struggled with the accountability and general planning (on my students’ part) with Genius Hour. Afte a quick hallway chat, my teaching partner (Bret Harrison) and I had our answer. Sam was kind enough to share his resources. Bret and I modified them for our needs and our first Genius Hour after CUE18 went way more smoothly! Thanks, Sam!
There was a lot to absorb and I’m still taking it all in. I’m reviewing my notes and those of my colleagues. As always, this was an amazing time surrounded by amazing educators. Thank you all! See you next year!
Last week I had the privilege of being a part of the #cuerockstar #rOxnard faculty. And what an amazing group they were! As tradition, we all had one minute to ‘sing for our supper’ also known as ‘Shred Session’. Yeah, that one-minute time limit? It meant nothing to me! In true RockStar fashion, I went a tad over. In all fairness, Mike Vollmert warned me that my time would soon be up. My response? “I don’t care,” and kept going. That was the first time I ever did that.
Day 1, I shared one of my passions: HyperMaps. Imagine creating a map (using Google My Maps – found in Google Drive) where students learn and the teacher is truly a facilitator. Or having students record their learning on maps. Combine My Maps with photos, websites, documents, etc and the possibilities are endless! I was inspired by the participants. Randi, had the brilliant idea to link a street view image in her map. She teaches her students about pyramids and was setting up a Hypermap that allows her students to experience the sites they learn about. I LOVE sharing the joy that is Hypermaps!
Day 2, for me, was all about green screens and the fun you can have with them! Check out my shred:
Lots of creating happened! Lots of problem-solving and collaborating. Participants were App Smashing in ways I had never thought of before! I learned so much from everyone this day. Check out this crazy creation by George Carganilla.
I’m sure that those of you who have been to a CUE conference, or even attended this year’s Fall CUE at American Canyon High School, are not surprised by this statement. Each year, I am amazed by all the awesomeness that congregates in one place.
I kicked off my weekend by attending a session with Danielle Forst, Juli Kimbley, and Danny Silva. They demonstrated how a simple search, Google Forms, and Google Maps can be used to create a digital version of The Amazing Race. Basically, a question is asked, students have to search for the answer, answer it on a Google Form. The Form, after submitting, will have a link to a map with another question. So simple, yet soooo much fun!
This, of course, got me thinking. This is why getting out of our districts and connecting with other educators is so important. I had a lesson coming up on explorers, the first one being Marco Polo. I wanted to do an Amazing Race with maps, but am thinking that will be completely #awesomesauce to do with States and Capitals. As for the Marco Polo lesson I thought something a little simpler would be a better way to go. As YouTube is generally blocked in my district, but has been open on and off for a few days, I decided to take my chances. I created a VERY basic map about Marco Polo. I selected 2 points, again that whole will it or won’t it be blocked, and attached short YouTube videos, along with a rough outline of the route he took. I attached the link to the map using Google Classroom and away we went!
The amazing part of this project wasn’t the simple map that was created, it was the learning that took place. Fortunately, YouTube is currently open, so the students were able to view the videos. However, the cool part of this lesson was that so many of the students were inspired, they began researching about Marco Polo and his life…On their own! I had students coming up to me, and each other, stating random facts that they discovered. One student found a video from the History Channel and began watching it (it was 40 min. long).
Now I could have done the old fashioned thing and read it out of the uber interesting Social Studies book – cuz who doesn’t love those things? But instead, I used the inspiration of Fall CUE and experienced one of the best Social Studies lessons of my career! I can’t wait to have the students creating maps of their own!
What can we say? It was super awesome! The day began with many walking to Manhattan Beach Middle School. Upon arrival we were greeted with enthusiasm, eagerness, and an energy that was akin to that of a six year old. The room was abuzz with excitement for what the day had in store.
After all introductions – including that of CUE’s CEO, Mike Lawrence, the Shred Sessions began. If I hadn’t been a part of the faculty, I would have had a hard time deciding which to choose. Although, creating a website using Google Sites would have been a top choice.
I was so inspired by those creating their Sites. A few were not impressed with the templates they had chosen and wanted to customize their Site. Many went online to find patterns and palettes using ColourLovers, while others searched for Digital Scrapbook Paper. The result? Unique and beautiful sites. The participants were excited and lost in creation – we almost worked through lunch!
As with all RockStars, we enjoyed a 2 hour – catered – lunch in the sun. Oh, and ice cream! Everyone LOVES ice cream – or fruit pops in some cases.
After the day had ended, the connections continued at dinner. We went to a local restaurant, discussed, learned, and had a great time.
Yes, all in all, Day 1 was a HUGE success!
The day began with energized educators ready to learn more! Personally, I was inspired by the teachers I got to hang out with. We were creating movies to use in classrooms using Lego Movie Maker (iOS) and iMovie (iOS). The creativity was flowing! One participant needed to tweak her Gene movie she made in Lego Movie Maker. So I challenged her to import it into iMovie and do more editing. It was totally mean of me. She was a novice with both programs. She not only figured out how to create the movie she wanted, but taught me a thing or two about iMovie! I love when that happens. Other participants created a welcome video for 6th graders using the Trailer feature in iMovie.
That night we gathered at Dockweiler State Beach for music, S’mores, and a bon(d)fire – Thank you Jeanne Reed! It was so relaxing sitting by the ocean and getting to know those that gathered with us. It was also refreshing having many bring their families with them.
Again I was inspired by all participants. There was one that was admittedly behind the times when it came to technology. We discussed Web Tools and how they can be used in the classroom – Animoto and Voki. Being a novice to all of this, I thought Animoto would be her choice. She surprised me by creating a Voki. It’s not that Voki’s (animated avatars) are that hard to make, Animoto is a simple and very easy video (trailer style) creation tool. Animoto is often referred to as the ‘Gateway tool’ for video creation. I asked why she chose Voki and her explanation warmed my heart and inspired me. She said that Voki would be the one her kids would really like. She was learning it for them – Special Day Class students. How awesome is she? Putting aside her inexperience, and putting the needs of her students first and just going for it!
Another participant, Paula Torres, and I sat back and fired off ideas on how each could be used in the classroom. She was a high school math teacher. Her ideas were amazing (Voki) – taking a snapshot of ones her students create and make them into trading cards to creating famous mathematician Vokis to an creating examples AND non-examples! If you’re not following her on twitter, you need to! Here is her Voki:
MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning) and CUE (California’s MACUL counterpart) came together to bring an amazing Professional Development opportunity for educators from 5 states. Andy Losik, from MI, and Jon Corippo, CUE RockStar Baby Daddy, have been talking about bringing the wildly popular RockStar Camp to Michigan for a while now. Finally the stars and planets aligned, and over 100 educators gathered in Saugatuck, MI for three outstanding days of learning, connecting, and fun.
For those not familiar with RockStar Camps, it’s three days of hands-on learning and creating, with a TWO hour lunch. Yes, you read that right, teachers actually get a TWO hour lunch – with ice cream! Each day participants learn and create in small learning groups (10 people or less), and really dig into concepts and tools for 2 hours. There are only 2 sessions in a day.
This Professional Development is like no other. It is/has:
Affordable – ridiculously so
Has catered TWO hour lunches
Small group instruction
All hands-on, and creation based
Outstanding faculty and participants
Unique ‘After Party’ activities
Connections, connections, connections
The three days in Saugatuck were jam packed with joking, laughs, learning, and connecting. Drew Minock showed off the awesomeness of Augment Reality, Tammy Lind showed off the capabilities of Google Maps, and Jon Corippo, well he just brought it! To see all the sessions and notes, check out CUE RockStar Saugatuck.
The Connections Continue:
After days 1 and 2, Andy planned some unique experiences for everyone. Day 1 included Dune Rides. The Dunes in Saugatuck aren’t like the dunes you are used to. They are unique in that they were brought about by cutting down trees long ago. As a result, the top soil eroded leaving the sand, found underneath the top soil, exposed. When the winds kick in, sand gathers around trees and buildings. There is an actual town that was buried as a result. The views are breathtaking. At the highest point, you stand 300 feet above sea level and are surrounded by trees (actually it’s just the tops of 3 trees), grass, and sand.
The west coast of Michigan has wineries – who knew? We were able to get a tour of Fenn Valley Winery in Fennville, MI. The evening was perfect. Not too hot, not too cool, and low humidity with a slight breeze. We were taken out to the vineyard where we sampled white wines and learned about the types of grapes that grew well in the area. For tasting reds, we went into the barrel room. We were truly treated like Rock Stars!
In The End
It is safe to say that everyone who was in attendance, learned a few things, made lasting connections, and had a great time. I truly hope that these RockStar Camps continue to grow in popularity throughout the country. They are just the jumpstart that I, and others, need to rethink, redesign, and challenge us as educators. As a teacher – and a RockStar Faculty Member – I crave this type of PD. Without this type of PD, I would very easily slip into being a complacent teacher: one that is never challenged. It has been through discussions with other educators at these events, that has helped to transform my teaching and educational philosophy.
NOTE: The first picture is that of a screen cleaner made by Andy Losik’s daughter. She is raising money in order to buy a dirt bike. And yes, that is the one I bought.
One of the best features of CUE RockStar events are the small sessions. Because the sessions are generally 10:1 – or smaller in some cases – AND 2 hours, attendees truly get individualized attention. Everyone gets to experience the tools and ideas first hand while surrounded by knowledgable educators. The energy in the sessions is amazing. We are all learning from one another!
For me, one of the most memorable sessions was one in which a high school teacher was inspired to recreate her assessments. She had her students reading The Glass Menagerie. After discussing different tools, she decided to play around with Animoto. One thing led to another and soon her excitement let to a whole new way of assessing her students on the book. She created a video for her students to watch. From here, her students will respond to the prompt creating a video using Animoto! It was such an awesome idea, and she was so enthusiastic and inspiring I just had to share this story.
This is why I LOVE CUE RockStar!
Unfortunately, I do not have the teacher’s example, but I do have an example of something that my students created on Animoto.
Awesome Day! It began with the introduction of Techie Fairy Godmother (that would be me) bestowing a bit of ‘Magic & Wisdom’ during the morning’s shred session.
The room was filled with eager educators, a puppet (Wokka), a robotic ball, and enthusiasm.
This week begins what I have dubbed ‘CUE RockStar 2014 Edition’. Today Tulare (known as Rural RockStar) and Monterey kicked off the season. Judging by how AWESOME today was, this is going to be an EPIC RockStar year! Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted.