Monday, March 10, 2008

CUE Thoughts

It's Monday morning. I'm back at school, and while I'm mentally exhausted from last week's CUE Conference (and still adjusting to the time change), I need to post some of my thoughts and reflections while they are still fresh in my mind. This year's event was probably one of the best CUE experiences I've had, not just because of the sessions and presenters, but also because it provided an opportunity to connect and converse with some brilliant and talented educators, many of whom I had never met.

Most of these conversations would not have occurred had it not been for the connections I started making last summer at the Discovery National Institute. That experience really helped me jump in and start networking with people across the country and the world using online tools like Twitter, Skype, and Google Reader. It's amazing how my learning network has grown in the last 9 months. As a result, I was able to have some great conversations with people that I would never have known, and would not have approached had I not been following them online.

Wednesday - EduBloggerCon West
Thanks to Steve Hargadon (Classroom 2.0)for organizing this and to Mike Lawrence & CUE for providing rooms and wireless Internet. Those of us fortunate enough to participate in this "un-conference" got to share some great ideas and participate in some wonderful discussions. In addition to Steve, I was also able to meet several people I've been following online, but had never met in person including Jen Wagner and Sylvia Martinez. I also added a few new names to my network:

Rushton Hurley is creator of Next Vista for Learning, a free site for viewing and downloading videos created by teachers & students. Videos focus on Learning, Global Understanding, and Community Service. Rushton is also a dynamic presenter and one of the CUE spotlight speakers. I'll be blaming his Google Tools presentation for all my hours that will be eaten up playing with Google Sketch-Up.

My "serendipty" moment of the conference came during our round table discussion on Project Based Learning. Sylvia Martinez was leading the discussion. I reached in my bag and pulled out the ISTE book we've been using for our middle school teacher training, Reinventing Project Based Learning. When I praised it as a great resource a voice from across the table replied, "Hey, I wrote that book!" It was Jane Krauss, one of the authors. Of course, I had her sign my copy.

Thursday - DEN Pre-Conference

A room full of Discovery Educators was a great way to kick-off the CUE Conference. Scott Kinney gave a terrific presentation on the role that media plays in our student's lives. This event also ended up being a mini-reunion of National Institute friends. We had 8 "Academic Excursion" attendees together in the same room. Good times. Most of us got together for dinner at Las Casuelas that night.

Friday - Conference Sessions & Party Time
I've been following David Jakes on Twitter and on his blog for some time, but never had a chance to meet him until today. His presentation on Digital Storytelling opened my eyes to some new possibilities for using these with my students.

David Jakes presenting at one of the "CUE-Tip" mini sessions.

Jeremy Davis shared advanced Google searching and revealed some hidden Google tools - like calculator, dictionary, and custom searches.
Frank Guttler & Mitch Aiken from the American Film Institute shared their screen-education curriculum for students and gave us a sneak peak at their new AFI ScreenNation site - a place for students to post and share their videos.

After the sessions, it was party time. Since I volunteered at the registration booth this year I was invited to the Volunteer Reception at the Wyndham Hotel. That was followed by a reception for our Orange County CUE affiliate where we were introduced to our new affiliate president Lainie McGann. The night was capped off by a Discovery Education Celebration. Kudos to the Discovery folks for throwing a great party. They rented out Boomers in Cathedral City so we had the whole place to ourselves and we had a terrific time. I was one of about 200 Discovery Educators who reconnected with their inner-child as we played in the arcade, pounded down pizza & soda, and raced each other around the go-cart track. Thanks DEN!

Saturday - Wrapping it All Up
In addition to Rushton's enthusiastic Google Earth and Sketch-up session, I got to sit back and listen to David Jakes one more time before he had to fly back to icy Chicago. His 21st Century Cartography session had our heads spinning as he showed the magic that you can add to your blogs and wikis using embeded code. With a "simple" copy & paste you can bring your pages to life with podcasts, maps, street-views, and virtual tours.
In my last session of the conference I got to give back a little as I presented some of my own cool tips and tricks with other Discovery STAR Educators in their "Stealing from the STARs" session. I shared how to make PhotoStory-like movies using iMovie08 and Voicethread.

Cool Web 2.0 Tools
  • PicLens - Use this browser plug-in to turn your picture searches into an infinite photo-wall. Works with most image searches and Flickr.
  • MeBeam - Probably the easiest way yet to video conference. Reminds me a lot of the Brady Bunch.
  • Next Vista for Learning - Rushton Hurley's online library of free videos for learners.
  • AFI ScreenNation - The final piece of AFI's Screen Education curriculum. Coming soon!
  • GabCast - Record & post your podcast with your cell-phone. Evoca is another tool that does the same thing.
  • Google Sketch-Up - Design 3-D buildings and objects and drop them into Google Earth. (This is just too much fun!)
PHOTO CREDITS: Thanks to Mark Pennington & Jen Wagner.


Mrs.A said...

Wish I could have been with you at CUE. I had fun virtually attending some of the sessions with ustream, and all the blogs have been great finds of good tools and resources. Thanks for sharing. Maybe we'll connect again at NECC or some into SL again. Lot of events at the DEN HQ in SL.

Dennis Grice said...


It was good to see your comments in the chat at EduBloggerCon West. I was in the AFI session and missed the Social Networking panel discussion. Heard it was good. I'll have to check the ustream archive. Couldn't follow it live because we did not have wireless in the conference rooms. In fact, I was frustrated several times when I was unable to access twitter, Google docs, or other resources during some of the sessions. It's interesting that it seems my perception of wireless connectivity is changing from one of privilege to one of expectation.