This was my second time attending SC Midlands Summit in beautiful Columbia, SC. As promised, last year I was just an attendee while this year I was invited to present two sessions. This was a great way to end my week and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. While the sessions were great, that wasn't the high point of my time at the conference. The high point for me was connecting with people. It was great to see my colleagues and spend some quality learning time with them. I am so fortunate to know some great educators. I love supporting them and I truly appreciate the support they give to me. This Blog Is Why professional development and relationships go hand-in-hand. Love my PLN!
After leaving the Partnership Conference at Winthrop University and attending Midlands Summit, I definitely detected a theme in the learning this summer. Computer Science/STEM/STEAM are the hot topics. There were so many connections from the keynote speakers Mike Meechin @mikemeechin and Dr. Cindy Moss @stemboss. I learned about several careers in the computer science/tech industry that I did not know before. This is the information that we must share with our staff and students.
Have you heard of these career options? Mind blown.
Some other conference highlights:
1) Over the course of the conference, I was able to support my colleague and PLN friends. The great thing about technology is that there is so much to learn. I was proud of my colleague for presenting her first session on Guided Math. I was also proud of myself for being able to complete most of the activities that she shared (despite my math phobia!). I also learned some great tech tools thanks to @sblakeney3 and @psjoseph718 that I will be trying out soon. Check them out on Twitter.
Random Name Generator
2) This year, my favorite session was presented by Mrs. Shambi Broome. I have been using Scratch this year with Google's CS First curriculum and Shambi has opened my eyes to a whole new world of options with Scratch and the new Teacher Account. I am excited to get started creating and sharing in the Scratch community. I look forward to sharing more with you soon! In the meantime, check out her website:
3) Seeing so many familiar faces in the audience helped to ease my stress level as I presented. I also truly appreciated the participants' willingness to try new tech tools. My first session was my version of an EdTech Top 10. As I shared with my audience, this list could include so many different resources. Even in preparing my presentation, I changed and switched out items several times. Check it out and drop me a line if you have something new that you think I might enjoy! And my second session was all about blogging. I love talking about blogging and my goal is to inspire others to pursue blogging as a reflection tool.
EdTech Top 10: Tips & Tools to Implement Now
Welcome to the Bloggers' Cafe
**@ = Twitter connections
Wow. What an amazing week of learning! Well, this conference wrap-up is not brought to you by "computer science" but the 9th Annual Partnership Conference for Educational Renewal. Long name, right?! I always love presenting at my alma mater, Winthrop University. And this time was no different. There were a couple of firsts for me this time around: co-presenting with colleagues and focusing on the topic of computer science. This Blog Is Why after co-presenting two sessions at the conference, I am more committed than ever to implementing computer science (standards) into our elementary curriculum.
Before we dive into the wide world of computer science, I want to give a huge shout-out to one of my former colleagues (really, still a colleague; we just don't work in the same space any more!). She was a presenter at the conference and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing. I learned all about the WriteReader program and I can't wait to explore it with teachers in the upcoming school year. I enjoyed seeing samples of work from her students. What a great way to start grooming those future authors in the classroom!
Our computer science sessions focused mainly on three areas: the standards, hands-on learning, and curriculum connections. I will share some resources here, but I am also motivated to create some professional development sessions for schools in our area as we begin (continue) to implement these standards. We really hope to alleviate the "one more thing" feeling and help educators to recognize the importance of preparing students for jobs in this market. As we discussed this topic and the standards, I thought of the video linked below and how crazy that at my very next conference (see Conference Wrap-Up: Midlands Summit 2018) the keynote used it in her address. I hope you will share these videos with fellow educators, students, parents, etc. Share the possibilities. Let's expand kids' minds!
First Step: Familiarize yourself with the Computer Science standards. Decide which ones you can implement easily and which ones may be a bit more difficult. What are some key terms that stand out? Are there any that will require defining (for you and/or students)?
SC Computer Science and Digital Literacy Standards
Next Step: Identify where these standards fit into your current curriculum. Are there areas where you already address certain skills? If not, how can you incorporate computer science standards into the core subject areas?
Final Step: Create opportunities for hands-on learning. And keep in mind that you do not always need the latest, greatest tech tool or gadget. You can teach many concepts without the use of a device. During the conference, I enjoyed getting to explore with my colleagues and brainstorm how I will implement these activities in the upcoming school year. But most importantly, it was just fun. So don't be afraid. Dive in!
As many of my fellow colleagues are heading back to work after a relaxing Spring Break, I am just getting started! And how do you think I started it off? That's right, work-related! But, in my defense, it was a much needed laugh break. This Blog Is Why: if you have not had the chance to hear principal Gerry (pronounced "Gary", but southern) Brooks speak, make plans to be at his next event.
Here is one of my favorite clips, just in case you have not seen his work (no judgment):
Even though we may know him as the fun-loving guy who makes us laugh with his southern accent and funny videos, he delivered some powerful gems. What I enjoyed about his presentation was the REAL-ness. He shared his journey as an administrator and a YouTube sensation (my words, not his). As educators, we all face similar struggles. Principal Brooks sheds some light on how he has handled situations and adds in a little humor through video messages. There were several times I had tears rolling down my face and I just could not help but laugh out loud (no, really).
His message is great for principals and/or staff who may need a little culture and climate boost. It's like standing before a mirror and realizing, "Yes, I do that." Or "You know, I could do that better." It's not about pointing fingers or placing blame, but understanding our role in building the culture/climate of our work space. So as not to ruin the experience for you, I am going to share a few general points.
Keynote Speaker Highlights:
1) As a former administrator, one of my mantras was "Have Fun" because we are in a tough business and if we don't take time to laugh, the stress becomes unbearable.
2) There are some things that are within our control to change. If so, change it if you don't like it. And the things we cannot change, we should not allow those to consume our days.
3) Finally, do you reflect on personality types in your building/work space? What makes you tick? Do you pay attention to the likes/dislikes of those around you? One of the ways that I like to start off a semester with my college students is by completing some type of fun personality quiz similar to the Myers-Briggs inventory. I also like to share my results. I completed the real (paid) version in college and again as an administrator. My results were exactly the same despite a span of about 15 years. What that tells me is that this is just who I am: good, bad, or indifferent. I think it's important to know how others like to work and/or interact with others. Let's take the guess work out and really get to know those that we spend a great deal of time with in our work lives.
Here's one that I like to use: Personality Test
One final video for the road...Happy Spring Break!!
Always learning. As an educator, this is not only a motto but a way of life. How can you ever stop learning in this world of educating tomorrow's future leaders? You can't. This Blog Is Why I am seeking your advice about a cool new educational, technology tool that I recently picked up.
This past summer, I participated in the GenCyber teacher camp and became just a little bit more techie. I am intrigued by the world of computer science and all that it has to offer. Our students today are so lucky that they get to grow up in a time where, if they play it right, they can CREATE their own job/career path. How amazing is that? As an educator, I feel lucky that I am able to bring experiences to students/schools that will prepare the next generation for jobs/careers that do not even exist yet. It starts with a knowledge of computer science, coding, robotics, and other related topics. Our summer camp experience didn't end this summer and I am grateful for the extended opportunities we have had throughout this school year. At our most recent session, we explored several tools that can be used in classrooms for students at all levels (elementary and up). The one that I am trying this week, is Bloxels. With Bloxels, students (or teachers) can create their own video games. One feature that I liked was the ability to add content through the storyboard. Students can play the video game and practice skills or review material along the way. Now, I am new to using Bloxels and this is not a sales pitch. Take a look at my Flipgrid (code: ca6b46) and I hope to get some new, creative ideas for how to use Bloxels in the classroom.
Learn More About Bloxels
My Bloxels Flipgrid
Share a Flipgrid
Have you joined the Microsoft Movement yet? If not, I invite you to read on. And even if you have, there may something that you have missed. As a current Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE), I enjoyed a fulfilling experience at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). This was all thanks to Microsoft and I was not disappointed. For months, I have been looking forward to my first flight experience and my first time presenting at this national conference. This Blog Is Why I encourage educators to follow your dreams and connect with those who will support you in making your dreams come true.
My most memorable experience was volunteering at the Microsoft booth and introducing other educators to the Microsoft Innovative Educator program. As an added bonus, they each received a t-shirt for earning the badge during the conference.
You can follow that same path. Here's how:
Step 1: Join the Microsoft Educator Community. Community Sign-up Here
In this community you have access to free resources that will assist you with integrating technology in the classroom. There are self-paced courses for your personal professional development. If you want to schedule a Skype session, this is the place to be. Find authors, guest speakers, classrooms around the world, and virtual field trip opportunities at your fingertips.
Step 2: Become an MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator). Certified MIE Journey
Now that you have the resources to become an expert at technology integration, why not get certified? Earn 1,000 points through the Educator community by taking courses, participating in Skype events and/or sharing through your social media platforms. How easy is that? Once you earn your badge, show it off and encourage others to do the same.
Step 3: What's Next? Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert
Keep earning badges/certifications. Find your niche. What is your favorite Microsoft tool or product? Learn about it. Present to your colleagues or at conferences. You can set your own path. For me, the next step was the MIEE program (link above). The nomination window is set for April 15, 2018-July 15, 2018. If you have earned your MIE badge, the final step in the application process will be creating a 2-minute video. Don't be nervous and have fun!
As an MIEE, I hope you take advantage of the MIE Travel Program. Last year, I submitted a proposal to present at FETC and I was excited when it was accepted. But, the icing on the cake was being accepted to the MIE Travel Program. They handle your registration (if needed), travel and lodging. Talk about stress free! Thank you Microsoft for an awesome experience. There are some amazing people on the team from sales to marketing and programs and I am proud to be a part of it. (Special shout out to Robyn Hrivnatz. She's the BEST!)
FETC 2018: Your Digital Footprint
Interview with @EduTechGuys:
Blogger/Educator/Grant Writer/ Future Ready Presenter/Aspiring Administrator