Muddling through the blogosphere

Fall CUE 2016

Fall CUE 2016 – A few takeaways


This year’s Fall CUE Conference seemed like a drive-by event since I could attend on Friday only. (But don’t feel sorry for me for missing out on Saturday’s sessions; I was headed up to Amador County for an annual wine-tasting weekend.) Despite a rainy 2-hour drive to and from Napa, Friday’s sessions were worth the travel time.

Due a few traffic slowdowns, I unfortunately missed Dave Burgess’ (Teach like a Pirate) opening keynote, but from Session 1 on, I left with some great takeaways:

Steam Power Your School – I am a huge advocate for making sure the “A” is included in STEM (STEAM not STEM) programs, especially at the elementary level.  I loved the research pieces session leaders Jennifer Kloczko, Joe Wood, and Brandon Blom included in their slideshow, such as this infographic from the University of Florida. But what really made their session zing were the live clips of students at their school sites starting the school day with dance and/or having access to dance and music throughout the school day. I’m also adding Prodigy Island Math (free online game designed for students in grades 1-8 to use their math skills to battle wizards) and Math Olympiads (an $89 gaming program to challenge your advanced math students) to my list of engaging math programs.

Student Research Using Google Tools – At least once a year, I teach a Google Search workshop in my district or region, so I’m always interested to see what other presenters are including in their search sessions. I’m glad I attended Melissa Hero’s session. Her presentation is very similar is scope and sequence to my workshop, but I came away with a great takeaway: search queries to use if you want your Google search to return Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets for whatever topic you or your students are seeking:


So if I wanted to find Google Slides presentations on butterflies, for instance, I’d enter the following in the omnibar: butterflies. I’m not sure what the “d” stands for on the end of each query, but I’m headed to Google Mountain View on Monday for a Google Certified Innovator celebration, so I’ll pose that question and then update this post.

The World Isn’t Flat – Oh, my, such a mind-blowing session! Brian Briggs and Bill Selek opened a new world of teaching and learning possibilities with the 360° camera. Their presentation link takes you, via Thinglink, to a 360° field of sunflowers, with Brian (I think) in the middle. No, he did not have to swivel and take snapshot after snapshot – the camera does that for you. In thinking about historical events or scenes from literature, consider how often the story is – or could be – told from different perspectives/viewpoints. Imagine recreating a scene from the Civil War, for instance, with soldiers advancing and surrounding a key battle site. If I had had this camera with me during my recent trip to Rwanda, I would be working right now on an interactive lesson to pair with the movie Hotel Rwanda. Oh so many possibilities for taking digital storytelling to new levels.

If a 360° camera is not in your budget right now, a very good next-best option is the free Google Street View App. Thank you, Ryan O’Donnell, for joining the session and giving some tips on using this app.

I don’t usually showcase tools or programs that are not free, but I’d like to present a case to teachers and administrators on why the price of a Thinglink 3D account + a 360° camera (or the free Google Street View App) could seamlessly transform a lesson from Substitution to Redefinition.

Thank you to the wonderful group of teachers who joined me for my Can I Use That? session. Please feel free to contact me with questions on Creative Common, copyright, and fair use as they come up in your teaching assignments.

A huge thank you to the CUE team for all the planning and work that went into the 2016 Fall CUE Conference.  Your efforts were worth every minute!

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