Thursday, April 11, 2013

Technology Integration Conference: My Presentations & Reflections

Yesterday I had to present two sessions for my school district. One session was Speed Geeking and the other session was Crowdsourcing for Educators. I wanted to take some time to reflect on my presentations because I feel that with everything we do that is big and a time investment we should reflect on how we did.

I will admit and have admitted in previous posts that I was nervous. I was more nervous for these two sessions than presenting globally to several countries or to ITAG. The reason is that teachers/educators can be the toughest crowd......even more so when they are your district. Teachers are hard to read in the audience. When you present to your peers you don't want to come off like a Mr. Know It All. I try very hard to just be me and represent how I operate all day long. I think that always works best. To act like someone who you are not will never work.

Anyways, my first session was Speed Geek where I created a website of all the tools that I use in my daily teaching. I created this wiki two days before on Monday. I decided to do this to give more insight and knowledge beyond the 30 minute presentation. I have a ton to add to the wiki and will do so a little bit each day. I was not sure about the turnout for my session. We had a good motivational keynote speaker George Couros and there were 15 breakout sessions planned. I did not know if I would have 5 people or a room full. I was blessed to have a roomful. I was told I had over 60 people so that was great. The hard part is that I had no idea where the tech level was of the room. I had two plans ready. For a small audience I would work to their needs and dig deep on a few ideas. In a larger room I would just cram as much in as possible.

I think the presentation went alright. I did not get much feedback. I had a few emails and tweets to let me know it was good and that made it all worth the effort to know that someone found it useful. I was already satisfied before even presenting because a person I connected with online from Brazil had contacted me to let me know she was trying out one of my ideas.

My biggest takeaway from the session was that teachers are eager to learn how to be more effective and become better. We just lack time. I had several conversations afterwards about how cool it would be to have breakout sessions on topics based on teacher needs during inservice. I talked about how I would love to teach about certain tools during these sessions and it even got me thinking about organizing a class for educators where we could meet once a week for so many weeks in a row to learn and grow. Some really good ideas for me to think about and ponder. Last, I realized that I learned a lot about myself while putting this presentation together. It really forced me to think about what tools do I use and how effective are the things that I use? It forced me to think about how I operate and what is really best for my students and myself. It was a reminder that I have put a lot of time and effort to being the best teacher I can be and this helped remind me that the payoff has been worth it. It is now my goal to update my wiki and continue to dig deep to being a more effective and efficient teacher.

My second session was crowdsourcing for educators. Two days before I got the great idea to create a blank wiki and conduct a crowdsourcing experiment where people could add to the wiki to talk about their experiences, knowledge, and insights. It was a wonderful experience for me to have as it gave me a platform to speak from. My slides underwent several changes to get ready and I spent hours on this particular presentation to make it worthwhile. My goal was to inspire teachers to create a PLN and begin to crowdsource, connect, and work with others outside of their school to improve and enhance their ideas and teaching. I shared stories about my experiences and briefly talked about a few things to get started like Twitter and blogs. I could easily turn this into a complete training session lasting several hours. I put three times the time and effort into this presentation as opposed to my other one and I felt good about this one. I should not judge the two against each other because they are different, but I felt like the Speed Geek was much better but I cannot explain why. Crowdsourcing is a passion of mine and it is hard to share that in 30 minutes.

I realized that I have come a long way in my networking and teaching preparing for this presentation. I was looking at where I started with a blog in 2009 that was very weak and not good to where I am today with several tools and sites that I use. It has been a remarkable journey.

One thing I forgot to mention in my presentation or maybe I did, but just did not go in depth enough is the fact that our very own students are crowdsourcing and learning from one another so why are we not doing the same? My son posted a YouTube video of his Minecraft rollercoaster he built all by himself. He was so proud and he is amazed that over 50 people have watched his work. He is only 8. I talked to the crowd about how a teacher left a comment with a challenge and now he is self learning how to do the challenge to show her he can do it. It is amazing. This morning he was given another comment on this very blog about his video from another awesome kid who is 8 years old in China!

And then today one of my 8th grade students found out part of a video that was crowdsourced for a very cool and powerful campaign was accepted and part of the final cut.

Last, I completely forgot about another example of crowdsourcing and connecting. When my 8th grade students were doing a global debate on global management of natural resources we were doing research with Google Books. We found a great book, but could only preview a few pages. One of the students decided to email the author for more information. The author was so awesome that he sent us all electronic copies of his book for us to read and use. It was an eye opener for my students. Here they are conducting conversations with this author who gave us such a great perspective of things. This is something that is so amazing for students to be able to do in this day and age. I really wanted to share this example yesterday because I want TEACHERS to be doing the same. Contact the experts, follow them online, have conversations because that will all make us better.

These examples that I did not have time to share are reminders to me that what I presented is not only a passion of mine, but real and happening as we speak. We need to be connected. We need to be empowering ourselves. If we are not doing so, then someone else is and we are falling behind.

In the end presenting yesterday proved to be better for me than I thought. It was a great opportunity to share my ideas, connect with people, have conversations with people that I never have had before, and ignite myself to take things to a new level. I don't like to be up front talking, but I love what develops before and after that makes the presenting worthwhile.

Thank you to everyone who contributed ideas online(too many to mention) and to everyone who sat in on my presentations. I appreciate it more than you know.
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