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:
Happy New Year! Welcome to my first blog post of 2018. This month has been packed with preparations for the upcoming Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). This will be my first year attending and I am excited about all of the cool, new things I will learn. As an added bonus, I also get a chance to present (which means I am extremely nervous). This Blog Is Why I encourage you to stay tuned and hear all about my FIRSTS at FETC!
This trip would most likely not be possible without the support of the Microsoft MIE Travel Program. I look forward to sharing my MIE experience in person with conference attendees. Don't forget to stop by Booth #435 (Microsoft booth) so that you can become a part of this awesome experience AND get a free t-shirt. Who doesn't love a freebie?! Thanks to @MicrosoftEDU, I will be taking my first flight EVER! That is going to be an adventure itself. Once my feet touch the ground again, here is where you can find me:
Wednesday, January 24th
*11:30AM-Interview with @edutechguys; EduTechGuys at FETC
*4:00PM-5:00PM-Poster Session "Your Digital Footprint: Tell Your Story with Blogging and Sway"
*5:30PM-Microsoft Booth Talk "Become a Microsoft Innovative Educator"
Thursday, January 25th
*12:30PM-2:30PM-Microsoft kiosk (Come see how to get your Certified MIE t-shirts)
Giving back. It feels so good. Today as I reflect on Edcamp Palmetto in my town of Rock Hill, there are so many emotions. At first, I was nervous and a little disappointed that we had to compete with so many other great events in the area. But, at the end of the day, it was PERFECT. I was honored to work with so many hard-working and dedicated educators (or future educators). And proud to hear the compliments of organizer Jed Dearybury (@mrdearybury1). This Blog Is Why you have not lived, until you have experienced an Edcamp!
(Photo courtesy: Jed Dearybury)
Behind the Scenes
Usually in my conference wrap-up, I get to share about my experiences attending a conference or edcamp. This time, I have the unique perspective of assisting with planning the event. That is a lot of hard work! Today, as I looked around, I realized that this event was planned and prepared by teachers for teachers. Talk about empowerment.
(Photo courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/edcamppalmetto)
In preparation for the day, there are meetings (love Google Hangouts), phone calls and visits to businesses, making tough decisions, and then putting it all together the day before everyone arrives. I am thankful for those businesses who jumped on board immediately and offered donations to support teachers. Many of them realize how hard teachers work and want to do what they can to show appreciation. Edcamps are free events and designed to be an informal day of professional growth. The hard-working people that make up edcamp teams are all volunteers. As a volunteer, I learned the art of balance. Trying to assist in planning and preparing as much as possible while still working two jobs, spending time with family, and being sick (two whole weeks). But it is so worth it when you see teachers and students walking away with freebies that will hopefully spark a new innovative lesson in their school or classroom.
This event was hosted at my alma mater, Winthrop University, and again I am bursting with pride. The staff was helpful, welcoming, and accommodating. Thanks to the student volunteers who worked so hard, we were able to get a lot done in a short amount of time. As issues presented themselves, they were on top of a solution immediately! A special shout-out to the PSTA student chapter board members at Winthrop. A job well done.
My favorite session of the day was "Pass It On" with veteran teachers, newbies, and students. The conversation was positive and inspiring as teachers new to the profession shared some concerns or questions. They were able to hear from veterans about some coping strategies. The conversation was so good that we were almost late to lunch! I heard one participant say as she was leaving the room: "Ooooh, that gave me chills." The stories about building relationships and passion ruled the session.
During the very first session, I floated among three rooms. Yes, you can do that at an edcamp! They were Flipgrid, BreakoutEDU, and Classroom Management. Flipgrid and Breakout allowed participants to be interactive and think about ways they could integrate some lessons in their own classrooms. I made my way to Classroom Management after peeking in at the Collaborative Notes (also a part of Edcamp). There were so many good ideas, strategies, and resources being posted that I just had to witness the conversation for myself.
(Photo courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/edcamppalmetto)
My goal for the next Edcamp is to visit the Ongoing Sessions: Cardboard Room and Game Room. In two edcamps, I have not had the chance to fit in all the goodness of the day. I also missed the GooseChase fun, but that's okay because I over-indulged at the last one.
I would love to hear about your highlights from the day! Share in the comments or tweet me @MsClassNSession.
Thank a Sponsor
If you attended Edcamp Palmetto: Rock Hill, don't forget to thank the sponsors. This day would not be possible without their support. I will try my best to list them here and hope I don't miss anyone (but I will keep updating, if I do):
Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA)
Founders Federal Credit Union
Lily Sarah Grace
Sharp Business Systems
Matt Miller (Author)
Monica Burns (Author)
The Pump House
The Brass Tap
The Children's Cottage
Burgers & Barley
Leola & Simone
Elaine Miller, Primerica
Go Bigger, Go Home
The Paper Gnome
Honored to be an author in the EduMatch Snapshot in Education (2017): Volume 2: Professional Practice! Get your copy at amazon.com/dp/0692046402/… #edusnap17
Last year it was Edcamp Sparkle. This year, it was like a kick-off event to the Edcamp Palmetto mini-tour. No matter the name, it was still a great time! This edcamp holds a very special place in my educational heart because it was my first time experiencing an edcamp. And now, I am hooked. This Blog Is Why you should review my first Edcamp Sparkle experience and meet me at one of the upcoming locations (Rock Hill, maybe?!). See you soon.
What is an edcamp? You may be asking yourself this question. This is a FREE, professional development event for educators. Participants in attendance determine the topics for the day. When the sessions begin, everyone in the room becomes an expert or a part of the discussion. You won't find one speaker standing in front of the room ready to go with their Google Slides presentation or Microsoft Sway. Instead, educators share best practice ideas and resources. During the day, there may be a few anchor sessions that are pre-planned presentations or a demo of a product. And the best part of all, there are FREE door prizes donated by businesses who support educators. Whether you walk away with a prize or not, everyone is a winner. There is so much to gain in addition to that: confidence as an educator, a new friend/colleague, meeting your connected educator friends, or a new idea to implement in your classroom/school.
Equip. Encourage. Empower. These are the main tenets (as described by organizer Jed Dearybury) of EdcampPAL, where PAL = playing and learning.
Equip-Your edcamp experience will provide you with tools, resources, and strategies to meet the needs of your students. There's nothing like coming together with like-minded educators on a Saturday morning fired up for a great day of learning and growing.
Encourage-Those same like-minded educators will push you to new limits. At an edcamp you are encouraged to learn and try new ideas. Step outside of your box and think outside of THE box. Want to learn about ozobots or 3-D printers? Speak to the representative. Want to start up a Lego Lab? Talk to Ms. Alisha Bridges from Jesse S. Bobo Elementary. Have an arts-inspired idea? Come play and explore with the team from Lily Sarah Grace (@LilySarahGraceFund).
Empower-Last, but not least. Leave feeling empowered. Empowered to accomplish your goals. Empowered to help your students achieve. Empowered to pursue your dreams. And empowered to be a better you. A better educator who changes lives. That is the power of edcamp.
But wait! It's not all about learning. Remember the "P" is for playing. Have fun with the latest craze. That's right, a GooseChase. Download the app and prepare to be silly. I must admit, I was totally distracted during this year's edcamp because the GooseChase was so much fun. And more fun things kept being added by the minute (it seemed)! But it did make people interact more. It was great to see people collaborating to get the most people at the Step and Repeat or completing the arm wrestling challenge. And if you weren't completing a challenge, then you were snapping a picture or recording a video for someone who was. Such great fellowship.
When all the fun is over, be sure to say thanks to everyone who makes the event possible. The hard-working team and the generous supporters. Also, if a session sparked an idea for you, don't forget to apply for an Impact Grant. From Edcamp Palmetto, check out the team and the sponsors:
Meet The Team
Thank The Sponsors
On the Fourth of July, DonorsChoose enthusiasts were tempted with an offer we couldn't refuse. Just follow @craignewmark on Twitter and receive a $10 code for DonorsChoose to support classrooms with children from military families. Sounds easy enough. Right? As an educator and member of DonorsChoose, it is always great to give back. Thank you to @craignewmark for this campaign and I look forward to more great news about your mission. This Blog Is Why getting the code was easy, finding the project to support not so much.
So, how did I solve my problem? Interested teachers were encouraged to enter a contest with simple rules: 1) "Like" the MsClassNSession Facebook blogger page 2) Comment with a link to your project. View the video below to see the winner:
I wish I could do more to support these classrooms and help them get funded. One of the ways that I have been able to get my own projects funded is by sharing, sharing, sharing. So, as an additional show of support, I am sharing all of the projects entered in the contest through my blog and social media platforms.
**Fully Funded** Project: Being The Best Me I Can Be
**Fully Funded** Project: Tolerating Each Other, And That Sound a Chalkboard Makes
Project: Seeing Is Believing--Impairment Goggles
**Fully Funded** Project: Experiencing Life Through the eReader
**Fully Funded** Project: We Need a Rug for a Comfy Place to Sit
**Fully Funded** Project: One Chance. One Dream. One Team.
**Fully Funded** Project: Carpeto Equipo
**Fully Funded** Project: StoryWorks for Small Group
**Fully Funded** Project: Hands on Learning to Start Our Day
**Fully Funded** Project: Learning Innovative Techniques In Our Reading
Best of Luck for funding your projects! #kidsdeserveit
Blogger/Educator/Grant Writer/ Future Ready Presenter/Aspiring Administrator