Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cue 2016 Takeaways and Thoughts

Like the last few years, I was really excited to attend the National Cue Conference in Palm Springs this year.  One more year and I can nab a 5-year member badge ribbon.

Our school had a very large contingent this year with 12 people (including two admin).

One day, I'll feel knowledgeable enough to present.  It's a goal (#goals).

The opening day Keynote with Brad Montague, co-creator of Kid President, was

His positivity and energy and love for all were so palpable.  It was really inspiring.  The quotes and information that stood out were:

  • ”You were once a child, too”
  • “Be what you needed when you were younger”
  • “Lots of things are contagious: fear, anger, hate...viruses.  But joy, hope, love are the best kinds of contagions.”
  • “Treat everybody like it’s their birthday”
  • “Haters gonna hate.  Huggers gonna hug!”
  • Keep sharing your voice
  • You are powerful
  • It doesn’t matter who gets the credit.  It matters that it happened.
  • Choose joy!

I missed out on my friend Crystal Kirch's session on Flipped Classrooms because her room was overflowing with people, and there wasn't any room. Isn't that AWESOME?

I left my first session part way through. It wasn't what I thought it would be about. I can't use Minecraft with my students since it doesn't work on a Chromebook. There is more to game-based learning than Minecraft people!

I then went to a session by Alice Chen because it's Alice Chen (and it had the word Zombie in the title). I really loved her two journal templates and Question and Answer Challenge. I haven't done any dialectical journaling with the students this year. I may try the Buddy Journal with A Midsummer Night's Dream with my 10th graders at the end of the year instead (or maybe in addition to). I may do the Team Journal with 11th graders and The Great Gatsby, or I may switch it. I think I may even try the Question and Answer Challenge with my 10th graders and the "American Translation" section of The Joy Luck Club (JLC) on Tuesday!

She had another idea that I really liked as well. It involved taking a piece of text and putting it into a Google Doc to share with the students. Give students commenting access and have them, essentially, annotate the text as a class. They can ask questions about parts they read that confused them or they want to discuss. Then, the other students in the class answer the questions in the comments, creating discussions in the margins. I think I may give this a try with the parable in the last section JLC and with my 11th graders and "The Lowest Animal" this week.

Next, I went to Malia Hoffmann's session on Building your Personal Learning Network. She was my first professor in my Master's program when it started last year (two more classes to go). I'm not new to PLNs, though I'm not an expert on them either. I got some good information (but not a Kindle fire) and was able to share some of my own. I learned about Cybraryman who curates a list of educational edchats on Twitter. I participate in some of them outside of the actual chat dates. My goal is to try and start synchronously participate after I'm done with my Master's.

I finished off the day with a few of my colleagues at the Google for Education Certified Innovators Panel SLAM. Here are a few things that I found noteworthy that I didn't know about before:

  • Using the accessibility features on the Mac to create a magnifying glass for screencasts (maybe) and presentations. (Directions here)
  • CrafyText - "CraftyText is a simple app. It allows you to enter text, which then shows up big in the center of the screen. It works on top of your favorite website."
  • Sortd- Helps you organize your email into lists and move them around based on priority.  I have created lists for emails from students and one from professional colleagues.
  • SAS Writing Reviser - this is a Google Doc add on.  Essentially, it can be used by students to check their paper for possible needed revisions.  It will look for a number of things like wordiness, passive voice I'm going to start using it with my own writing as I finish my Master's program.
  • Form Values - I apparently already had this installed.  I never used it before though.  It basically will save form values (or question options) that you use a lot for you so you don't have to constantly retype them.
  • Draftback - is a Chrome extension, so it will only work in Chrome with Google Docs.  It basically creates a movie that plays through all documents revision.  This would be good for both teachers and students.  It could also be a good plagiarism prevention tool.
I really like slams.  I get a lot of good ideas to share with my school through the Weekly Tech Tip I share out.  

I didn't go to Friday morning's keynote.  I might try and find it on CueTube, but since the speaker has a focus on coding, and as an English teacher I have yet to find a reason to try and incorporate that into my curriculum, I took my time getting ready in the morning instead.

My first session was about Tech Tools in the Writing Classroom.  There really wasn't anything new but the speaker was engaging.  I did have some minor takeaways though:
  • Since the brain likes novelty, don't tell kids they have 5 minutes for something.  Tell them they have 4 minutes and 44 seconds to complete something (and then don't actually time them).
  • Use the Boston Globe's Big Picture site for visual writing prompts.
  • When using something like Today's Meet to back channel, let kids know that you can make a PDF of what they say in it and send it to their parents if need be.
Next, I went to a session presented by Lisa Highfill with a few of my colleagues.  She's known as one of the pioneers of the Hyperdoc.  A few possible takeaways that I might use:
  • Have students create memes of their favorite lines from literature
  • Have students annotate text using the highlighting function and commenting functions on a Google Doc
  • Next year, instead of having students do reading logs, have them do reading BLOGS!
  • Use a slide deck that is publically accessible to help students choose their next book to read.
We toured the exhibit hall after that.  My colleagues got free cases for their Chromebooks.  Mine was too cutting edge and they didn't have one for it.

One suggestion I have for CUE next year in regards to the exhibit hall is to bunch all the similar booths together.  That way you can avoid areas that don't pertain to you whatsoever (which as high school English teachers was a great number of the booths), or adequately comparison shop.

Then one of my colleagues and I headed over to the Hard Rock (which I personally think was kind of tacky, especially considering the price) for a session that was about game-based learning, but was really about how an elementary school district created a game-based learning platform.  That is not something that we, as two teachers without any district personnel, could really learn from, so we left.

I went to the OCCUE affiliate meeting for the first time.  I need to get more involved next year, but certainly not as a board member.  I won a MakeyMakey, but I gave it to the Librarian for her Maker Space.

Saturday morning I got up, packed up, and headed to the convention center.  I nabbed some information from one session on badges before it began for my Action Research Project for my group in my Master's program.  Then, I put on my tech leader hat and headed off to John Corippo's session on Rock Star PD.  Despite the fact that it was geared towards administrators, I found it enjoyable and filled with good ideas.  I wish my administrators had been there.

I kept my tech leader hat on and stayed in the room for the next session about TOSAs and Tech Leaders collaborating.  But, this was another example sessions not actually "advertisting" what they were "selling" and I left with my friend Crystal Kirch who gave me some tech to look into called Seesaw and Verso.  So, it wasn't completely wasted.  I then spent a nice lunch with her and another friend, taking the next session off (which sounds like a solid plan considering there was a power outage).

I nabbed a couple of presenter resources on ELD stuff before the last session I went to with Isabelle Selak, which was about using NaNoWriMo in school.  It was a good presentation, and I think that next year I might try it out as an after school club with students and teachers who are interested in trying it out.  I'm always torn about trying things like this out during class because I get pulled in the direction of covering the required district content and teaching my students in a way to be best prepared to critically think and write, and these roads hardly ever meet at a crossroads.

I have VERY mixed feelings about the closing keynote.  I found I agreed with much of what she, Pearl Arredondo, said in the keynote, but one thing she did say put me on the pro-charter alert.  But after doing a little googling, I see that her actions don't seem to be matching up what she is saying.

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