#SUECON2015 was a success!

As the co-founder and coordinator of SUECON, I get to see it all! That being said, putting on a conference can be a daunting endeavor, but it is one that is well worth it when it comes to putting together something so close to home for the educators of the state of Utah and surrounding regions.  We do that as well here at UCET. These conferences really are all about you, the educator, and fulfilling the needs of your students. 

SUECON this year was filled with over 200 fantastic presentations taking up a day and a half of jam packed educator professional development. My personal favorite parts of any conference are the Keynote speakers. There is an energy there in those meetings and we had two fabulous presenters this year, Tami Pyfer from Utah State Governer Herbert's Office of Education and Diana Laufenberg a TED Talk veteran and educator. Not to be forgotten is all the time and planning that goes into the opening of any conference. It's our opportunity to hit the attendee with an energy filled few moments of fun! I hope that we delivered that fun this year to those who attended.

Our theme was "Back to SUECON". It had been two years since the last conference and our date just happened to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of Back to the Future where Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown traveled forward from the year1985 to the year 2015. How could we not!? Ken Kirkeby, Database Engineer from Washington County School District, played Doc Brown who in a flash of sound, fog and lights emerged from a pristine 1981 DMC Delorean (which I might add was not easy to get) and welcome everyone to the conference!

If you missed this event, fear not, below is a link to the SUECON 2015 opening keynote and Diana Laufenberg's address.

This coming March, UCET too will provide an outstanding Educational Technology Professional Development conference and I assume that if you are here reading our blog then you are chomping at the bit to get your ticket. Hold on tight and keep checking back because we are in the final stages of getting ready to open registration. If you have thought about presenting at the upcoming UCET conference, wait no longer, you can register to present now!

Please enjoy the SUECON opening keynote.

Link to Opening SUECON Keynote.

(the audio is a little overdriven for the first 2 min of the video then levels out for the keynote address)

Changing the Education Narrative

As I sat in Tami Pyfer’s Saturday keynote at SUECON, her message of “Change the Education Narrative” really hit home. How many people outside of education see what is really going on in classrooms and schools? And how many are buying into the media and critics’ messages? The only way that narrative can change is for those of us in the education community to start telling our story. The story of the Language Arts teacher who stays late every Tuesday and invites students from any class to come into her classroom, have some popcorn, play some music, use her computer lab and get help with homework, regardless if it is from her class or not. The 8th grade Science teacher who comes in early the day after a test to read aloud the questions to a student with a reading disability so she can improve her score. The 4th grade students learning to code from a teacher providing them with real-world skills. There are thousands of teachers going the extra mile to help their students succeed every day. Where are these stories being told?

UCET is a coalition of groups dedicated to promoting effective use of technology in education. As the newly appointed Advocacy Representative on the UCET Board, I am setting a goal to help UCET and teachers share these stories and help change the education narrative. UCET Board members can tell these stories as we meet legislators and policy makers, and as we travel around the state and the country talking to colleagues and parents. We can post stories on http://ucet.org/advocacy/, include them in our Blog and newsletter, give innovative teachers a forum to share ideas at the UCET Conference, and support teachers as they create new stories by learning to use technology in their classrooms.

But we can’t tell stories that we don’t know about! If you have a story that needs to be told about using technology in your classroom, or know a colleague that has a great story, please let us know by sharing it with us in the Advocacy area of the ucet.org. Just go to http://ucet.org/advocacy/ and click on the “Share Your Story” link at the top of the page. If you are on Twitter, share pictures and stories using the hashtag #ucetAdvocacy and follow along for updates. With your help we can start spreading the news of the great things happening with technology in Utah schools. 

As an additional incentive we will be randomly choosing one person each month in November/December, January, and February who shares a story at http://ucet.org/advocacy/ to receive a free registration to the UCET Conference on March 17-18, 2016 at the University of Utah. It doesn’t have to be long, just share a few paragraphs telling us what great things you are doing with technology in your district, school, or classroom. Please, share your story with us and together I believe we really can “Change the Education Narrative”!

Back to SUECON 2015 Thoughts

This past weekend I had the opportunity to head Back to SUECON 2015 in St. George. You can learn a bit more about the history of this conference here. I love attending this conference because of the great content, the chance to visit with educators from the southern part of the state, and the opportunity to visit with my grandmother, aunts and uncles. Of course, the weather is always a nice plus too. Now, back to the content this year and a few things I learned that I’d like to share with you. I was able to attend NearPod for Admins, Tech Tools to Challenge Gender Stereotypes, Changing the Narrative on Public Education – Saturday Keynote, Lessons Learned from Finland, and Students and the Target Language. I also presented a couple of sessions called Time Travel Now and spent some time at the UCET table.

I learned NearPod can be used for faculty meetings to help participants stay on topic and to gather feedback on faculty decisions in the moment. Also, you can add in a NearPod activity on the fly rather than have the whole presentation planned out in advance. I was challenged to rethink which technologies to use with young people of either gender to help expand their learning. You can challenge your own thinking by learning more about this topic through Michael’s post here. Tami Pyfer displayed grace under pressure when the tech went awry during her keynote. I love that she is helping educators understand how to challenge what is being said in the media and meetings around the state. I should have looked a bit more closely at the other two presentations she had this last weekend. If you are not following @tpyfer on Twitter, you really should. One of the biggest takeaways I got from the Finland session is how willing they are to learn from educators that come to visit them. I was also just a smidgen envious of the presenters’ trip. You can view Natalie and John’s presentation via Prezi and start saving to join the 2017 trip back to Finland. In the last session I attended, I had fun working with some language teachers to practice the Info Gap technique through a series of worksheets. I was paired with a French teacher who had some Spanish in high school. I speak no French beyond Bonjour! I enjoyed speaking a language I hadn’t practiced before and just listening to different ways to teach. For those readers that may not know me, I’m actually a database trained techie geek who occasionally teaches community ed classes on iPad basics and Microsoft Office. I need all the help I can get to figure out how to teach better as it is not something I’ve been trained to do. I think this is why I found the last session so much fun. It was completely unrelated to my daily job duties.

If you’re wondering what I might have used in my Time Travel Now presentation, wonder no more. I really love Lynda.com. I reviewed some of the principles I learned through their courses on Time Management Fundamentals and Going Paperless. I also showed an example or two from The Together Group – 9 Steps to Get Started. Another resource I’ve used in the past are Vicki Davis’ posts on Time Management and Productivity with her Cool Cat Teacher Blog. She has several so you’ll want to do a quick search to see which might be most beneficial for you. Now, the apps I’ve found most helpful in managing my time are Mailbox app, Google Calendar through Calendars 5, Evernote, Scanner Pro and Notability. I’ve also gotten very fond of saying “Hey Siri, email work subject to do” and then stating my to do item. This gets my to do out of my head (never use your mind as a gathering place) and into my email where I’ll see it and add it to my calendar somewhere. If it’s on the calendar it’s much more likely to actually get completed. Well, I think that’s all I have for today folks. Please let me know if you find my suggestions useful or if you have any other questions. Also, don’t forget to join us tonight for the #utedchat on #suecon2015 Highlights. You’ll be able to learn from the conference even if you couldn’t make it down. Take care and have a great day!

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