I sat down at a table rehydrating myself with beverages until the world calmed down. My head was pounding while my body was pulsated with electricity. The last three days had been a blur. It started with a plane ride to Las Vegas on Thursday night. It ended on Saturday night with a table of friends discussing education, thinking, power, privilege, actions, perceptions, and holding yourself with class. In between was nothing short of amazing.
Friday morning started with a power breakfast with Sarah Thomas (@saradateechur). We sat next to each other and caught up on the current state of affairs in our lives. The food was great and the company was even better. We drank about 17 cups of coffee before Heidi Carr (@carr5) rolled up in a car inhabited by Shelly Stout (@theoddcentricT) and Amanda Rogers (@theedsaneT). One round of mani-pedis, lunch, and conference prep work down, the CUE Nevada conference was ready to begin.
Sarah kicked it off with the opening keynote. Her keynote was about her personal journey through education and life. She masterfully wove her tale enlightening the crowd with how she uses her alter ego SaraDaTeechur to become a better version of herself.
Sarah also explained how edumatch was created. The best part of Sarah isn’t that she spends time highlighting herself. She spent the bulk of her time amplifying the projects of those who have connected through edumatch. Her speech was both relatable and heartfelt.
I sat in on a session ran by Jason Borgen explaining how to become a future ready leader before I presented my session on Seesaw. After my session, it was time to see Vegas!!
Heidi Carr played hostess with the mostest along with the strawberry milkshake drinking Derek Larson (@lars3eb). We toured Vegas seeing the largest chocolate fondue fountain in the world, watched the Bellagio water light show, and took a ride on the High Roller on the strip. That evening created memories that I will never forget. The bond that Sarah, Shelly, Amanda, Heidi, Derek already strong due to our Edumatch Voxer connection, was strengthened to the level of life-long friendship. The beauty of the evening was that education was a common interest but took a back seat to 6 individuals connecting on a personal level. There was no talk of assessments, tech tools, or workshops. The topic of conversation was music, food, and fun.
Friday turned into Saturday morning and Shelly Stout was ready to begin her session. We sluggishly rolled in with one eye open and watched an Oddcentric individual (her twitter handle) transform into a classroom maestro. Her session on Socratic circles was the highlight of the conference to me. I learned the difference between level 1, 2, and 3 questions. She taught us how her students analyze and evaluate poems, stories, and songs in an authentic and engaging way. The best part is that her students were the ones saying how much the enjoyed those Socratic circles!
Amanda Rogers ran a session on how to unleash the magical powers of Google. I rolled into the session about halfway to the participants working in groups on their own completely engaged. Amanda was the guide on the side giving the participants time to explore Amanda’s projects that she set up for them. It’s not always about the sage on the stage at a conference session as well as in the classroom.
My next session was with the coca cola drinking, Derek Larson. This was a straight sage on the stage; dropping morsels of knowledge to the tech-hungry participants eagerly awaiting their next morsel. It was masterful in its simplicity. He categorized the different ways to organize yourself, social media platforms, as well as platforms to gather new ideas. He allowed participants to chime in whenever they had ideas or prior knowledge of that particular tool. It was sweet to see a virtuoso presenter in action.
My sessions finished with Digital Badges and Micro-credentials with Rich Dixon (@richedtech). I was skeptical of this session because badges are just a way for egotistical educators shouting “LOOK AT HOW GREAT I AM”! I couldn’t have been more wrong. He spoke about something called open badges and micro-data. This idea is that when you get the badge there will be links to the projects and data of what you did to earn that badge. This takes badging to a much, much deeper level. I am so happy I went to his session.
Up next was my keynote. I used Nearpod to include my PLN who were not able to attend. The crowd was super receptive. It was a blast.
The conference ended with me at a table with Sarah, Amanda, Heidi, Derek, and Shelly. It felt like the perfect way to wrap up the conference. I didn’t think it was gonna get any better until I heard Derek’s reflection of the weekend on Voxer as he drove two hours home. The rest of us listened together giggling and reflecting at his storytelling ability. It truly was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
I would be remiss if I did not thank and honor Heidi Carr for the conference she spearheaded as well as the opportunity for me to keynote a major conference. She went above and beyond chauffeuring me to around Vegas as well as to the airport making sure I caught my flight! She is an amazing individual who will never quite understand how indebted to her I will always be. I would also like to thank Derek for turning around and driving back after he realized I was a dummy and left my bag in his car!! You are the man!