Wednesday, December 9, 2015

6th Annual SLATE Convention

Kate and I had the amazing fortune of presenting at the 6th Annual SLATE Convention this week in the Wisconsin Dells. It was at the Kalahari Resort (Yes, you can be jealous...No, we didn't make it in the water park, but a few from our group did!) For those of you that aren't familiar, SLATE is a fantastic educational convention that focuses on the latest and greatest in educational technology. We were also pleased to see the increase in focus on personalized learning. It was a fantastic 2 days of learning and connecting with other like-minded individuals. It is always so energizing when you are surrounded by hundreds of people that have similar philosophies and are together for a shared purpose.

One of our favorite parts was connecting not only with the other amazing educators from around the country, but more importantly, connecting more with other teachers from our own building. It was so refreshing to be able to connect on a personal level with some of my favorite people. I swear...we haven't laughed that hard in a long time. We are truly blessed to work with some of the kindest, caring, and hilarious peers! We love being around them, and genuinely enjoy each other's company. In the day to day hustle and bustle of things at school, it is SO important to connect as PEOPLE, not just colleagues! This conference gave us some time to do that, and we are SO grateful for that (and so much more!)
Yes...those are brass elephants...Yes...I am sitting on one. But in my defense...did you see our amazing assistant principal in the upper corner?? Now THAT is devotion to a good shot! :)
We presented "A Day in the Life of Team Togetherness." Our hope with this breakout session was that we could walk people through what a day is like in our personalized learning environment. That being said, we wanted to highlight the differences (and similarities) between the teacher role and that of a Team Togetherness student. We had about 50 people attend, and our amazing principal ran our Today's Meet "back channel." People asked amazing questions and really seemed excited to see what we do day to day. We shared our hurdles, our successes, how our model has scaled, as well as the great tech resources that we use on a consistent basis. The presentation is filled with additional links and files. Feel free to check it out by clicking below:

In addition to presenting, we also got to learn from other amazing educators! We had quite a few new "tool takeaways"--we learned about Knovio, Plickers, Orange Slice, and we are super excited about! Learning about new tools from others is so powerful, but so is seeing how they use tools you already know...but in a completely different way! We can't wait to take some of these back to our space! 

I will say, though, that my favorite learning was from the Tuesday keynote, Kevin Honeycutt. I love keynotes that are engaging, interactive, and know how to read an audience! Kevin did just that...and more! He was inspiring! He was energetic! He lit a spark in us to wrap our arms tighter around those kids that need us most. Anytime you sit in a large lecture AND you can feel those know you have hit the proverbial keynote jackpot! Kevin has used his tough upbringing not as a crutch, but as a motivational driving force to make a difference in the lives of others. The impact he has left on countless students (and countless teachers...just like us...from around the whole world) is immeasurable. Excited to follow his site and Twitter! I know there is more learning to be had, so I can't wait to see what he does next! Some of our favorite "Kevin-isms" from his keynote and break out session (There were SO many more...):

  • "Kids are growing up on a digital playground...and no one is on recess duty"--in reference to the need to meet kids where they were at and help them learn and move forward in a digital age. #digitalcitizenship
  • "Teaching should be like throw to where the receiver isn't....YET!" 
  • "Associative learning...when how you feel while you are learning is just as important as what you are learning"
  • "If I like you, I tell you what to know. If I love you, I tell you HOW to know" We need to love our kids MORE!
  • "When kids get to do things they love, it writes on them with permanent ink" We need to make our lessons/classroom environments fit this more!
  • "How can we bend the system to meet the kid, instead of bending the kid to meet the system?"

    And finally...the one that made us laugh out loud...
    • "Don't pee in my learning pool!"
    Collaborating...creating....critically thinking....and most importantly...COLLECTING! Collecting ideas and memories from each other. Thanks, SLATE, for a great 2 days! Memorable for sure!