Microsoft Innovative Educator

Microsoft Innovative Educator

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Conference Wrap-Up: Upstate Technology Conference 2017

This summer I was fortunate enough to participate in another conference mini-tour, which included my first solo online presentation (I think) for #notatISTE. You can see my post "ISTE Unplugged" for more details.  I am very grateful that I was able to participate in the full two days of #2017utc. Last year, I made it for day 2 only after driving/riding straight from the emergency room just in time to present. Luckily, we did not have to make a pit stop at the ER this year and had a wonderful trip. Again, I am excited to be heading back to Spartanburg in late August for Edcamp Palmetto at Converse College. I hope to see you there! This Blog Is Why I can fill you in on some of my highlights from the conference, in case you missed it.

First, I want to start with some tips for those who attend the Upstate Technology Conference:
1) Use the Sched tool. I know when you log-in and begin to select sessions, it tells you that this does not guarantee your spot in the session. That's okay! Sched is about so much more than that. You can read the presenter's description to see if the session is exactly what you need. Find out what sessions have been scheduled for the day. Get an email of just the sessions you have planned out. And the best part, after the conference, you may be able to get access to to the presenter resources that you missed and heard some great things about.

2) If you are not using Social Media (in this case, Twitter) then sign up today. I think this enhances the conference experience. You can get announcements, share photos, and connect with inspiring educators. How else will you know the best lunch times to avoid the crowds? Or, why those ladies are walking around with umbrellas? Or, that Burns and Byrnes (no relation) are available at the photo booth for selfies? Social Media can be an awesome tool in education, why not try it today and be ready for Upstate 2018.

3) Use this time to connect with your awesome PLN (Professional Learning Network) of friends and bond in person. Enough said.

Okay, back to business. So what did I learn or gain from the conference? My goal was to continue building my toolkit of resources to share with teachers in my new role as Instructional Technology Coach. Did I mention that before? Oh yeah. It's official! And UTC did not disappoint. I liked the interactive components of my sessions with Dr. Monica Burns (@ClassTechTips) and Shalonda Blakeney (@sblakeney3). In these sessions, we explored: Padlet, Nearpod, SparkPost, Google Docs, Slides, and so much more. It sounds like a lot to take in with just one hour each, but the best part is you can still connect with them on Social Media if you have follow-up questions. Remember, that was Tip #2. One of my take-aways for further research is to look at Alice Keeler's (@alicekeeler) book for Google Classroom: 50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom (List).

I also enjoyed the TAG session with Jenna Kay, Thomas McAuliff, and Bethany Whalen: 3 presenters and 3 tools in an hour. I already have my Screencastify extension added on my laptop. I learned about 4 different types of Kahoot quizzes and if you are new to Kahoot, you can just use the ones that are marked public. There is also a new Kahoot app if you want to have students review on-the-go. Finally, there was EdPuzzle. This is a great way to customize those video lessons and get an understanding of what students may be learning from the content by embedding questions. Take a look at this short video for why teachers use it in the classroom.

Ya'll, that was just  Day 1. Now, I am all about tips, tools, resources, and strategies. I gained all of that in just a few hours. So how could Day 2 be any better? I feel as though, Day 2, was tailored just for me: So you are a new tech coach? What are you going to do? Not only did I leave the conference with ideas to share, but I also walked away with some valuable information just for me. The new kid on the block. The new Tech Coach. Questions I didn't think to ask. What will the roll-out for one-to-one look like? How will I support teachers? What are possible PD (Professional Development) options? What will teachers need to know to help students? What will students need to know? I also loved being able to connect with coaches who have done it before, knowing that if I have questions, there is a support system there. Also, connecting with other new coaches as we learn the ropes together. Back to tips #2 and #3. Build your PLN. Grow together. Support each other.

Last, but not least, during my session (see the intro for more specifics about my session) I just want to acknowledge my  prize winners and the wonderful sponsors who continue to support teachers: @GoNoodle, @nearpod, and @Seesaw. A huge--THANK YOU!!

**@ = Twitter connections

Monday, July 3, 2017

GenCyber Teacher Camp 2017

Have you heard about the GenCyber experience? If not, take a look at the link below and find out if there is a camp near you. This is a prime learning opportunity for educators (or students) who want to know more about cybersecurity and careers in computer science related areas. Also, there are grant opportunities to host your own camp for students and/or teachers. This Blog Is Why I don't want to ruin it for the next cohort of teachers (Best of Luck in July), but YOU need to know what you are missing.

About GenCyber

As my time to participate in this week-long camp came closer, I began to get nervous. What do I know about Computer Science? How am I ever going to understand advanced coding and how to read or write it? I am not that familiar with ISTE Technology Standards or the Cybersecurity Principles. And math! I HATE math. Okay, hate is a strong word. I am not that fond of math. What have I gotten myself into??? Before our first day at camp, we received a secret message written in code (*see my spin-off example at the end of this post). We were also encouraged to complete the NSA Day of Cyber course. Intense! If you have students interested in a Computer Science/Technology career path, this is a great way for them to learn the requirements of various positions.

NSA Day of Cyber

So, that's what was going through my mind. What was it REALLY like? Five days of learning, collaborating, teamwork, team building, laughter, fun, aha moments, and ice cream. Of course, there is a great deal of content that is covered in those five full days with just the right amount of engagement mixed in; just the way you want to see a classroom operate. We had several guest speakers come in as well to share community resources and tell us about their first-hand experiences working in the area of Cybersecurity. Our featured guests included: Special Agents from the SC Law Enforcement Division, visitors from SC Cyber and GenCyber, local business owners for Breakout Rooms, an instructor from a local community college, members of an IT consulting firm, and an ethical hacker. I was intrigued to learn about ethical hacking and how this position fits into the business world. Each day you will learn something new and you will not be disappointed (at least not in my opinion). Team building was also an essential component of the camp. We were given a variety of scenarios and activities to incorporate key terms as well as the principles. We worked in teams, small groups, and with partners to complete these tasks. Some of my favorites were the infomercial, breakouts, and minute-to-win-it games. I am still trying to figure out how to eat a cookie off my face without using my hands! A requirement for our camp was that we had to eat lunch together and that was another opportunity for us to bond and get to know each other better. Our favorite lunch time ritual became getting our ice cream fix at the end of our lunch hour. We created some great memories during our camp experience and hopefully gained a new network of colleagues to continuously share lessons and ideas with during the year.

                                           (Voting sticks for our infomercial presentations)

Below are a few resources from the week. And I guarantee, this is just the tip of the iceberg from the resources we gained:

Even though you walk away with some amazing goodies, the best thing you will leave with is a wealth of information that you can share with students, colleagues, parents, family members all about staying safe and preparing for the future (and by the future, I mean now).

                                                         (Hot item from the camp store)

Ready to crack the code? Email your answer to for a FREE virtual Cybersecurity game.

*Secret Message: Dtz mfaj htrj xt kfw! It sty lnaj zu stb.