What a wonderful two days of learning we have had! Every year this conference gets me energized and inspired to make differences in the lives of students by thinking outside the box. And this year, although I am for the first time not preparing to welcome students into my Spanish class in the next two weeks, was no different! We heard incredible stories, made unbelievable connections and drank in TONS of new possibilities.
Let's all take a moment to thank Indiana eLearning for this opportunity. *Applause*
As our first keynote speaker, Todd Nesloney blew our minds with each story he told of how "students stop having limitations when we as teachers stop creating them." He challenged us to hold students to extremely high expectations. But something I heard repeated throughout his stories was the idea that we as teachers must hold ourselves to that same high level of expectation. Not in that our classrooms have to be perfect and all our papers have to be graded on time, but in that our students deserve our best effort everyday to blow THEIR minds. The part of his keynote that stuck out to me the most was how he opened: with a picture of children in mid-lurch at the start of an Easter egg hunt, with excitement flashing through their blurry movements. He posed this poignant question that really got to me: "How is it that children have such natural awe and wonder at things and yet often those same children, by the time they sit in our desks, have somehow lost that?" Thanks to Todd I desired to be more engaging.
Then, I had the privilege of presenting what I have done in my classroom with EDpuzzle in a small breakout session. You can read my first experiences here, or read what my session description was here. I was so thankful for the 18 educators who came to learn about this video editing tool and how they might be able to use it to enhance student learning. If you want to learn more about what we discussed, my Emaze Presentation is here as well as my Smore flyer with additional links and notes. Here are the thoughts and comments we exchanged on Twitter about my presentation:
Next, we had a delicious Panera lunch as we enjoyed further conversations with educators and companies we made connections with earlier that morning.
Two more sessions we available in the afternoon. I chose to see some of my former colleagues present (Dr. Chris Boyd & Mrs. Val Weinstein) about engaging apps to use in the secondary classroom. These two ladies have a reputation in our school for experimenting with new things, learning quickly and utilizing innovative technology for student learning in ways the rest of us only dream of. I knew I couldn't miss their session! Thanks to them, I learned about ThingLink, Pocket, and many others. Check out their presentation here! My mind reeled with the many ways these apps could have positively affected student learning in my classes the past three years. Thanks to Chris and Val I desired to venture outside my comfort zone to find new answers to recurring problems.
My last session of the day was spent learning from Justin Weaver about the best ways to go about blogging and using social media to advertise your school or classroom. He even taught us some best practices of photography (which I am clueless about!). Many times these conversations are a little over my head, and although I didn't get everything that was being discussed, I definitely benefited from tips that were mentioned (for example, how to interpret stats from your blog, some design suggestions, options for featuring student work, etc). Thanks to Justin I desired to be more intentional with my blog.
Great prizes were raffled away to finish up Day One, including a Chromebook, an iPad mini and a 3D likeness of yourself thanks to the 3D printer everyone was excited about. I'm decidedly NOT a lucky person when it comes to these types of things, but it was awesome to see area teachers get incredible things they could use in their classes or for themselves.
I left PUMPED to see what Day Two had to offer! I also left so encouraged and thankful for the school corporation we live in where the educators that impact students in our area are so motivated to be their best. Have I mentioned that this place is my dream job?! :)