I came to the Summer Institute filled with anxiety and not knowing anyone. I am leaving with a lot less anxiety and a long list of friends. There are not enough days in the school year to implement everything but I am sure going to try.
Today ended with a two-hour share session. Anyone could stand up and share their passion. I so enjoyed listening to everyone. People shared videos of the week, humorous stories and emotional testimonies about the DEN community. I struggled with sharing my own story. I felt compelled to go up but my nerves were in over drive. A fellow star and friend said I would regret it if I didn't share. When I was called up, my heart was pounding and my knees were shaking (seriously shaking, until then I had didn't realize knees could actually shake). I talked of my transformation at the Summer Institute and the goals I accomplished this week due to these wonderful educators. I mentioned my anxiety coming to the institute to a group of huggers and squealers. At the end of 6 days, I get it. When you've found your tribe of educational soul mates, hugging a squealing is a must!
Taking everything I've learned, I have some new goals going into this next year.
1. Stay connected with the amazing educators I met this week
2. Help my students find their passion projects
3. Make Global connections with my students
4. Share what we are doing in our classroom
5. Start a maker room and have a maker fair
6. Start coding with students
This is a lot to take on but I know that I will have support from the best educators in the world.
Thank you Discovery Education for giving me this opportunity. Words can not begin to express my gratitude.
I have attended a few unconferences before and left feeling disappointed. I was skeptical going into the day. Of course, I should not have worried. The morning started off like the rest with DEN SPEAKS (a five minute passion filled keynote) from Karen Ogen was and Tim Childers.
After DEN SPEAKS, we headed out to the 1st of 6 unconferences. Two minutes into the first one I realized that this unconference was going to be different from the others. People were passionate about sharing. For the most part, the groups were small which allowed for powerful conversations.
The ins and outs of KEYNOTE
Starting a morning news show
Maker fair, circuits, 3-d printer
Google Drive 101
Passion projects and Genius hour
After the sessions I was exhausted but I was also ready to have a conference call with my team and my principal because I was so ready to share and brainstorm about the upcoming year.
Yesterday I hit the wall. In an effort to experience everything the Summer Institute had to offer I have been cutting out sleep. Being a lover of sleep, this became problematic. I spent yesterday dragging myself from one session to another. The sessions were all wonderful and I have so many ideas for next school year. We finished about 5 and I did something totally out of character, I skipped dinner and took a well needed nap.
I woke up just in time for the Maker faire. As a team at our school, we want to start this next year. It was great to be a participant. I brought the classroom worm farm to Nashville, and shared how we used it in our classroom. We even made to-go worm farms. It was great to see people- create, learn, play, and share their passion.
Sessions I attended:
Keynote- Adam Bellow
The presentation was inspiring on so many levels. He makes you think and challenge yourself to be a better presenter, teacher, and human. He showed the video below. Not a dry eye in the house.
The best of Collaboration, Communication, Innovation- Adam Bellow/Steve Dembo-
Augmented Reality- Karen Ogen
Tell your story with the iPad - Dennis Grice
That is so fake, Understanding and Creating Doctored images-Dean Shareski
Here are a few resources from yesterday:
When I was getting ready for this conference, I prepped by making sure I had multiple pens, notebooks, a computer, an iPad, phone, chargers for each, extension cords, etc. I was ready to absorb as much content knowledge and innovative teaching techniques as I could. I was open to take that knowledge, self evaluate, and then do things differently then I did last year. What I did not expect to have personal, life changing moments that really have nothing to do with teaching. Points in the day where I had to look inward and say: That's me, or I am guilty of that.
When someone is presenting, they usually interject some personal stories to relate to the audience. Something in your story will resonate with an audience member and the presenter's story is mirrored someway in audience member's life. However, you also run the risk that someone can not relate because they haven't experienced the history that colored your perspective.
I say all of this because sometimes you are put in a place and time to say a message or hear a message. Not every session I have attended touched me on a deeper level and that is O.K. I had a take away and that was sufficient. More and more I am put in situations where I need to present information to audiences that are taller than 4 feet. I am a nervous wreck before hand. Jitters and nerves get the best of me at some point and I dread everything about the experience. I need to work on this. I continue to be in awe of everyone here who passionately speaks on a topic and shares personal experiences that are, sometimes, painful and embarrassing to recount to their audience. I want to be the presenter where people leave and feel inspired. To do this, you have to open yourself up and that is what I continue to struggle with and need to work on.
If you want to see any of these powerful sessions they are archived on densi2014.com.
So first I have to say that it is so refreshing to go into every session here and people want to attend. They aren't just filling in time slots or signing an attendance sheet to get credit, these people applied, spent their own money for travel, and left their families to attend each and every part of this Institute. Sitting in a room where everyone is actively listening and participating is a sight to behold. The energy in the room is tangible. I wish I could bottle this up and take it back to my own district. ALL professional development should be like this.
Opening Morning Session
I have used many of Dr. Lodge's songs in my classroom but his session was less about songs and more about using your time efficiently. He talked a lot about filming his short lectures for all subject areas. He shows these videos while he is walking around managing the classroom. When the video ends, the kids have a chance to have discussions on the video topic. The kids can access these videos at a later date if they need to. It is a concept that I am really considering for next year.
Teaching with one image- Tim Childers
Great session- He started off by saying we need to get rid of bullet points in presentations. This is a hard one for me because I love my life in bullets.
Take an image and start the conversation with your kids.
Ask- What do you notice?
- What can you infer?
Focus on one section in the picture so your students do not get lost or overwhelmed. Keep it simple. Put the picture in iMovie to add some jazz to the presentation.
Coding- Lea Anne Daughrity
The basis of coding is programming, building, and creating. As a grade level this year we want to start at least basic coding with our students. There were some great lessons given to help us get started.
There are times in your life when you step outside your body for an instance and with your mouth hanging open, think, surely I am not worthy/ lucky enough to be in THIS place with THESE people. Tonight I had a few of those times.
But first let me tell you how I got to be in those places and times.
Yesterday was outing day. All 150 of us loaded buses and saw some of what Nashville had to offer. We visited the Ryman Auditorium, Honkey Tonk Strip, Music Row, The Parthenon (Seriously), the ATT building (also known as the Batman Building), and The Country Music Hall of Fame. All were amazing! The pictures below do not do them justice.
I was questioning the thought behind having the outings in the 2nd day. I was ready to start the sessions and learn from these amazing people. I want to see Nashville but I am here to learn. That said… I get it now! CONNECTIONS! When you travel Nashville with a group of people you can't help but make memories. 100 Den Stars jumping off the Parthenon steps in unison, singing on the bus, finding an open honkey tonk at 10 a.m., taking pictures with Elvis, and so on. Personal Connections that is the key.
After the tour, we had 2 hours of coveted personal time. What to do….nap, catch up on email, nap, shower, nap? My roommate got a call from another teacher in her district….y'all come down to our room, bring your devices.
We walked in and the conversations were already underway. "How can teachers market themselves in the business world?" "What technology do you have in your district?" "You should try____________." On and on these topics flowed. People walked in and walk out, joined in and debated. Conversation turned to Apps and Garage Band came up. "Have you ever had a jam session?" Uhhhhh No! So the 5 of us jammed (I needed an intervention to make this possible, one in the form of someone keeping the beat because I couldn't). We recored a 30 second original song. It will never win a grammy or have a place in the Hall of Fame. That is ok. This is what the Summer Institute is all about. I am more than happy with the memory.
After the last session ended at 8, we were faced with another choice. Head on to bed and recoup for tomorrow, or socialize, play games, and connect in the lobby. HA! Sleep is overrated anyway. We head on into the lobby and see the coveted couch with seats available. SCORE! Seriously though this is the comfiest couch ever.
Let the games begin! A group of us played the game heads up. (the popular Ellen charades iPad game) During the middle of the game I had another moment. I was watching myself act out the Rocky movie while Adam Bellow was yelling out answers. Adam Bellow, app designer, ISTE keynote speaker, author, and great charades player. MORE CONNECTIONS!
There are a hand full of educators who I hold to Super Star status. For me they rank up there with the likes of Julia Roberts and Bon Jovi. A lot of these super stars are here at the Summer Institute. They don't have entourages (even though I would sign up for that job in a heart beat). I am not even sure they know that we all are in awe every time they talk.
The game ended and conversations started. Carlos Fernandez talked about the process of making his backchannel website -81dash. He talked about collaborating and I shared how we "Tune" our CBL projects in our district. Questions arose and new topics started. Dean Shareski shared how to do a lip sync video and gave us helpful hints of what pitfalls to avoid. Side note- Dean Shareski followed me on twitter at 2 in the morning. OMG!
Conversations stretched into 11:30 and all of us were hesitant to leave. The Vice President of Learning Communities for Discovery Ed, Lance Rougeax, walked in and thoughts of leaving quickly left. It was then decided to play one more game. It was all so surreal. I am not qualified to be here, to be in the presence of these people even if we are playing a game of hum that tune. I get that, but I am here, and I plan on making the most of it anyway.
On tap for tomorrow are sessions with Lodge McCammon, Adam Bellow, Steve Dembo, Kathy Schrock and many more.
The Summer Institute started with checking in and press photos. We each took a picture with Lance Rougeux. We had some down time and my suite mate Kellsye and her team teacher Mike explored Vanderbilt. After dinner provided by Jim and Nick's, we were treated to 2 very powerful opening key note speakers. Lance Rougeux, opened the 2014 Summer Institute with a very powerful message. He explained what the DEN community meant to him and how building a community of support as an educator is essential. He shared this message which really resonated with me.
While listening to Lance I realized that my biggest challenge this week and going forward into this school year was going to be getting out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there. Easy to say- harder to implement.
First let me say that the drive to Nashville from Rock Hill, SC was gorgeous. I drove right through/up/down many mountains. There were so many times where I wanted to take an exit just to explore (this might have had a little to do with nerves too). As a side note, Dept of Transportation, if you are going to put an interstate through some of the most scenic views and look outs this country has to offer, be kind and make pull offs so the American public can take pictures.
I made it here with time to spare and I even responded to an SOS call to pick 3 fellow DEN stars up from the airport. Nashville's airport, by the way, is fantastic and the let people who are picking up passengers wait, that's right I said WAIT up to 15 minutes as long as you have your trunk open. Charlotte Douglas International please take note!
We arrived to Vanderbilt with minimum u-turns and consultations to various directional technology. I was immediately greeted by a suite mate who showed me to my room. As expected there were many instances of squeals and hugs, but I must have given off a strong signal that I was neither a hugger or a squealer. Through all of that, as I was surrounded by like-minded educators who shared such an immense passion that there were willing to take 5 + days away from their summer and their families to share, connect, and learn, my nerves and anxiety (which I have battled for multiple weeks now) started to calm.