Thursday, July 28, 2016

E3 Technology Conference: Day 1, 2016

On the final Monday and Tuesday of July, Warsaw Community Schools hosts a technology conference called "e3Tech" as a part of the "Summer of eLearning" conference series from the Indiana Department of Education. Educators from all over the state gather together to learn and be encouraged about the role of technology in education immediately before the school year starts back up again.

I have attended e3Tech the past three years, and my fourth year did not disappoint!  Last year I decided to present 2 different sessions:  1 on a video editing program called EdPuzzle and 1 on the power of Twitter chats.  This year, I was asked (WHAT?!) to present my Twitter chat session again, and I was happy to do so.  Not only am I extremely passionate about this topic and the opportunities it provides to our teachers and students...but I also get 2 days of this wonderful conference for free because of my presentation! Win-win, as they say.

My lovely sister is getting ready to start her second year teaching at Faith Christian Academy in Lafayette.  She was able to come, have a sleepover, and learn a lot with me during these two days.  I loved having her and discussing all we learned together in the evenings.

On the first day we got there early, grabbed some coffee and then headed in to the Warsaw Performing Arts Center to hear from our first keynote speaker:  Rushton Hurley.  His presentation was titled "Singing Songs of Success" and included sporadic singing from all in attendance (I instantly liked him!)  He emphasized how technology can be utilized to tell stories.  He opened up Today's Meet so that at various points throughout the keynote he had us pause, converse, and add our thoughts to this ongoing conversation.  I picked up so many hidden ways to better instruction just observing how he delivered his keynote...let alone listening to what he included.  He pointed us to so many online video resources he has on his website that I felt nearly every teacher in the building could benefit from. There were so many thought-provoking quotes and reminders I took away from his session.

After the keynote, we headed to our first session, "Connecting Classrooms to the World" by Matt Miller.  We had so much fun learning about "mystery skype" and the many ways that video chatting can be used in each level of education.  This session was so practical because not only did we get to participate in a mystery skype session at the beginning, but our surprise guest shared tips for getting started:  start with someone you know, practice ahead of time, have a map/atlas in front of you, discuss good types of questions, etc.   If I had a classroom to go to in a week, I would feel equipped to try this out in the first couple of months of the school year.

Then we enjoyed a DELICIOUS lunch (Panera...woot woot!) and conversation time.  We headed to our second session after that.  I chose to attend "Twitter 102: Riding Solo" with Lorinda Kline.  I had been to this session before, and am very familiar with Twitter and the huge benefits it offers for teachers, but I wanted to support a close mentor of mine as she presented and become familiar with the Twitter-comfort level of the majority of the attenders.  I so value how Lorinda approaches this topic:  she never assumes that others should have it figured out and she instructs them through the basics in a way that makes people feel safe and respected.  Many teachers created Twitter profiles for the first time thanks to her!

For the final session on the first day, I presented #chat.  It was one of the same presentations I did last year.  Honestly, I was initially disappointed at the very small turn-out, but when I think back I realize that there were so many good sessions to go to, it was a hard choice for me each time.  I really tried to emphasize the potential that lies in student-focused Twitter chats.  After talking with the creator of the first student chat I know of (#SciStuChat), Adam Taylor, I was re-inspired at how powerful this learning could be...but at this point I can only find TWO student Twitter chats (shout out to the awesome #SpanStuChat!). Period.  I'm shocked!  I truly hope more teachers find a way to incorporate this network of professionals, ideas and resources into their classrooms at every level.  For all the resources I offered at my presentation, see the links attached to this post.
The following day held a variety of learning and reflection.  I'll be back to share my thoughts, soon.

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