Tag Archives: TCEA

TCEA Days 3 and 4: Whirlwind!

Wednesday and Thursday of TCEA were packed full of information, networking, sharing, and learning. The highlights of Wednesday for me were the great resources that were being shared on Twitter using the official conference hashtag #tcea2011 (or #tcea or #tcea11, etc.). Many people were sharing the resources they were being given in their sessions, along with comments about what was being said.

One of the comments on Wednesday that still has me reeling is that Xtranormal is no longer as free as it once was. It now only offers one free video and that video can only have one character in it. According to Xtranormal, they surveyed users and believe that their users will pay for a premium account. Hopefully, the education world will have enough of an influence to either change the policy or encourage the option of and edu-account. I really have to think there are alternatives to charging such as sponsors who would love to have their logos on the Xtranormal website as businesses who care enough about educators that they are helping to keep the service free . . . just sayin’.

I also participated in a BrainPop focus group on Wednesday and learned about some of the very exciting things that are on the way for subscribers. I cannot disclose what those things are – you’ll just have to wait!

On Thursday, many of the sessions I planned on attending were full. However, some of the sessions posted links to their resources on the closed doors and I began to wonder – really – why do we spend several days in Austin when a list of links to such resources could just be shared online? I suppose it is the connections that are made in a face-to-face setting that are the true value in TCEA.

Because of full sessions, I ended up in the general session with smoke, lights, and juggling – oh boy! Austin has a lot to offer, with regards to entertainment and food, but I really wish TCEA would move around this state each year. Austin isn’t able to handle the growing number of educators descending on its restaurants and parking. Perhaps alternating between DFW, Houston, and Austin would also make it easier for some people farther away from Austin to attend from time to time.

Tomorrow will be a short day. I’ll be facilitating a round table discussion at 9:15 in Ballroom B entitled: Recruitment and Retention of Girls in STEM.


Why does it always surprise me?

I’m blogging from TCEA (Texas Computer Educator’s Association) this week. Yesterday, I spent the day at a pre-conference for Discovery Education, learning some great ways to digitize my classroom. The keynote speaker, Hall Davidson, had two interesting videos to show as a comparison of teachers and administration to show us who needs to be convinced about the need to go digital.

The teacher video showed rows of teachers in a session at a conference – all of them with laptops on, some of them with iPhones working, some with both going at the same time. Backchannels, networking, oh my! 

The administrator video showed a room full of well-dressed individuals. In the entire room, there was one netbook and a whole slew of laps with notepads (and I mean the paper and cardboard type), hands gripping pens busily taking notes.

This morning, I sat in a room full of people waiting to hear about Web 2.0 tools. I looked around and realized that there were only about 4 people, in a room of about 100, who had laptops. Unbelievably, the presenter started out talking about handouts. I had to stop and wonder – is this really a technology conference?

A person next to me, when she heard where I teach said “oh, that’s the paperless school!” She was all excited about it – the comment sort of depressed me. Although we were built to be paperless, actually getting every single teacher in the school to go paperless has been daunting and in fact, we do have copiers in our school, which is evidence that we have not gone paperless.

Even a presenter in the afternoon who is supposedly a 21st century leader in education talked about the fact that we would never be able to get rid of books altogether. Really?

What will it take for us to be able to let go of the paper?

What is it about mushed up, watered down, then dried out wood that makes us so dependent upon it? Is it the toasty warm feeling we get when we throw it in the trash after a class of students leaves the handouts lying on the floor? Is it the hefty weight of it in a backpack that we love to condemn our students to? Is it the chuckles we get from reading outdated information and pointing it out to students in the hopes they won’t believe everything they read in their textbook?

Why is it that we feel so compelled to give students something in their hands to read? Why can’t we let them find information on their own on the web?

Are we afraid they’ll read something that isn’t correct and take it to be fact? Then teach them how to discern.

Is it that we are afraid of them not being able to recall the chemical symbols for the first 20 elements on the periodic table on demand? Then teach them how to access the information another way.

Is it that we are convinced that if textbooks are found to be obsolete, so will we? Then learn how to teach without a student in view.

Anthony Robbins once said “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” It’s time for the education world to forget what they’ve always done and strive to do something they’ve never attempted. If I can’t find people who believe this at a technology conference, where can I find them?

Presenting vs. Facilitating

When I was a full-time classroom teacher, I had several opportunities to present at various local conferences. As I’ve expanded my horizons in the education world, so have they expanded in the presentation world. I present for my work at Southern Methodist University and in my capacity as a Discovery Educator Network STAR, at various regional and national conferences.

I have a presentation coming up in South Padre, Texas (TSTEM Best Practices Conference) this month for work, and one in Austin, Texas (TCEA) in February for the DEN. My initial thought was that none of this was anything new and I wouldn’t really need to do all that much prep work for these presentations.

The reason I write this post is that the more I thought that way, the more I wondered why I really thought I could get away with doing the same old same old.

So I’m asking you to answer some questions from the perspective of an audience member, NOT as a presenter (as I’m sure many of you are):

1. What types of things make you want to stand up and walk out of a presentation?

For me, the dreaded “death by PowerPoint” is first on my list. Next is when someone is presenting a topic that was part of teacher training 101.

2. What opening activities or experiences excite you about the rest of the workshop?

As in my classes, I try to start workshops with some kind of a hook – sometimes it is a story that explains the reason we are all there, but more often, it is some kind of an activity or thought exercise.

3. Would you prefer to be presented to or to have a speaker facilitate discussion?

Personally, I prefer to have my audiences be a very active part of my session. I also prefer to be in sessions where I am allowed to share. We can all learn something from each other. Unfortunately, it seems that many audiences don’t really want to do that. What are your thoughts?

I appreciate your time in answering these questions, as I have decided to completely redo my presentations to try to encourage more audience participation so the sessions don’t turn into a 45 minute nap for everyone!