Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall CUE 2016: Reflection & Review

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the Fall CUE Conference in American Canyon, CA at American Canyon High School.  The conference was an amazing opportunity to network with educators from all over Nevada and California, meeting people that I have connected with over social media for the first time in real life, learn some of the latest and greatest in the world of education, and to top it off, I got to see my sister for part of the weekend.  It was a very enjoyable experience with a lot to share!

Me with the Pirate himself, Dave Burgess!
The keynote speaker that opened the conference on Friday morning was Dave Burgess.  Mr. Burgess is best known as the author of Teach Like a Pirate (highly recommended reading and check out his website).  In his book, he highlights how to tap into your passion for teaching, how to create a rapport with your class that is more positive and engaging and develop lessons that are more energetic and engaging.  He is a high energy presenter whose message is to inspire teachers to be more creative in their planning, motivate students to want to be in their classroom and to dismiss any excuses as to why you are less creative than others, based very heavily on his book.  He also did a breakout session during the day that went deeper into this same message.  I think every teacher has, at some point, expressed doubts in themselves as to whether they are a creative teacher or not.  The main theme that I took from both the keynote and the breakout session is that it is going to be hard work and creativity is not something that comes natural to people, but if you are willing to put in the work, you are going to have a classroom that is much more receptive to you, your material, etc.  It is toxic to say things like "I'm not as creative as (fill in the blank)," or "It must be easy for (fill in the blank)."  It fired me up for the conference to learn all that I could while I was there!  

There were so many sessions to choose from; it made it very hard to decide where I was going to go.  I tried to do a mix of things that are new to me or I have limited skills and things that I am already good at but could get a different perspective.  Two of the session that I chose were hosted by Ed Simoneau and his colleagues on the role of a TOSA and how their district utilizes TOSAs.  Both sessions gave me some great insight to improve my role as a TOSA (not my official title here in Nevada, but the same thing).

I also attended a session on screencasts, hosted by Kevin Fairchild.  I went to this session looking for info on some other programs that I may not be aware of and uses of programs that I currently use.  I have submitted a presentation for the Carson City GAFE Summit in February and I am always looking for more info.  Nothing against Kevin at all, he was a great presenter.  However, after sitting through about half of the session, I realized that I wasn't getting much from his presentation because I already use the programs that he was showing the attendees.  Everybody else in the room got some great information from him, though.

Great fun with great people!
Outside of the Dave Burgess session, my absolute favorites sessions of the conference are a toss-up Jon Corippo's Teach Like a CUE Rockstar session, or Roland Aichele, Lindsey Blass, and Cate Tolnai's #ConnectedTL session.  Since I present at conferences, professional trainings, and well, in my job on a daily basis, I figured I would learn from one of the best in Jon Corippo.  He gave some great tips on how to improve your presentations, some great tools to integrate into presentations and for use with students, and so much more!  I would share ideas, but in respect to Jon's presentation and his words, you need to attend the session to get the info.  The #ConnectedTL session was all about connecting with your PLN through a variety of platforms.  While I use Twitter, Voxer, Google Hangouts and listen to podcasts, it was great to see people I had already met in the past and meet new people that I have networked with over these platforms.  I also look forward to the #ConnectTL chat on Tuesday nights at 7 PM Pacific.  They also have a website you should take a moment to check out.


One of the newest drones, an X-Swing (see how they did that?)
Then there was the CUE STEAMPunk Playground, a place to learn about robots, coding, and other fun stuff.  This is probably the most novice of anything at the conference for me.  However, I walked about the playground and saw the different stuff in action, from drones, robots, and virtual reality.  There is so much potential for these devices in all subject areas (even in social studies, which I taught for 11 years and never could see the connections; I'm starting to see the connections a little bit now...).  I also interviewed Jon Corippo for a couple of minutes asking him why you should use these devices in your classroom.  You can see the interview here.

There were a couple of sessions that I attended that I did not enjoy much.  I will not say which sessions for sake of protecting those presenters, but they were both on topics that I was very interested in learning more about and I left the sessions not really knowing more than I already did or was disappointed that the session wasn't more "try it out" rather than "sit and get".  But even with these two sessions, the others more than made up for it!

I have been to numerous conferences over the years.  This one had to have been the best that I have been to, for several reasons.  The choice in sessions was absolutely superb.  Most of the sessions that I attended were engaging, exciting, informative, and motivating.  I got to see numerous people that I have met previously, and also met several more that I have networked with but had never met in real life.  The Friday evening social hour(s) were especially fun.  I am already counting down to March 15 when the CUE Conference in Palm Springs kicks off.  I know I am going to miss a few names, but I want to give a special mention to so many that were there this weekend:  Jon Corippo, Mike Lawrence, Sara Boucher, Ben Cogswell, Josh Harris, Brian Briggs, Ryan O'Donnell, Tom Covington, Lindsey Blass, Ari Flewelling, Laurie Wong Roberts, Amanda Haughs, Roland Aichele, Ann Kozma, Doug Robertson, Jason Borgen, Roger Wagner, Rushton Hurley, so, so many more!  You all rock!  In the end, as my flight took off, we cruised right over top of San Francisco.  I hope it isn't too long before I see all of you and one of my favorite cities again!