Saturday, March 19, 2016

CUE National Conference Day 3

Day 3, the last day of the CUE National Conference.  Even though I did not have the best of days yesterday in regards to the sessions I attended, I still got a great deal of info, networking, and mingling done.  I thought that I was going to be back to the hotel early considering my lack of sleep from the night before, but that all changed when a great group of people "forced" me to stay out later and eventually close down one of the fine establishments in downtown Palm Springs.  Copious amounts of beer, cornhole, shooting the breeze with new and old friends, and plenty of remarks of disbelief that acknowledged how old we were in comparison to the rest of the crowd at the bar was had by all!  Needless to say, it was a short night of sleep again, but well worth it!

The key to learning is to get out of your comfort zone.  There is a fine line, you don't want to be so far out of your comfort zone that you get overwhelmed and/or quit, but you cannot learn anything new if you don't make yourself somewhat uncomfortable.  This morning, I decided to attend a session on a subject that I have absolutely no knowledge of:  coding.  Coding is probably the hottest buzzword in education and technology these days.  Part of the reason why I have no clue when it comes to coding is because I couldn't see how it fit into my history classes and the importance of coding.  I can safely and honestly say that after the session and the keynotes on Friday that I can understand the importance.  So many jobs in today's world are based on computer science and most of those jobs are going unfilled because students are not prepared.  By incorporating coding and computer science across the curriculum starting in kindergarten, the next generation of students will be better prepared for those computer science jobs that are out there.

However, even though I realize the importance of coding, I still am at a loss as to how I can implement coding into a United States History class.  While my classroom is nearly 100% paperless and my entire curriculum is based on technology, I don't have devices in my classroom, I rely on my students to BYOD.  That said, it would make it a little tough to implement coding fully into my classroom.  Also, because of my inexperience with coding, I simply do not know how to apply it in history.  I need extensive training on coding before I can start seeing the connection.  The first step to solving  a problem is admitting you have one, right?

Part of me feels ridiculous.  I am a good teacher.  Why am I struggling with this connection?  I have adjusted lesson plans on the fly to meet the needs of my classes on nearly a daily basis for over 10 years, but for the life of me, I cannot think of anything that would be remotely close to something that I can use with my classes.  However, the other part of me realizes that I just need to learn about this concept.  Once I have a better idea of everything, the ideas and connections will start to come.  There is going to be frustrations, but like I mentioned earlier, stepping out of that comfort zone is eventually going to produce genuine learning.

There is more to the day; more sessions, more networking, more learning.  Afterward, there is the four hour drive home (with a pit stop at The Mad Greek in Baker, CA; if you have never, do yourself a favor and make a stop in Baker if you are ever on 1-15 between Las Vegas and Los Angeles... oh and you'll also see the greatest road name in the history of highway signs, Zzyzx Road, about 5 miles south of Baker) and a great deal of reflection with my colleague and friend Steve New.  I cannot thank my friends, new and old, that made this weekend one for the ages.  I look forward to continuing the conversations with everybody through blogs, Twitter, and face to face meetings (now that we have made that F2F connection!).

Until next time...