Question: What’s worth a 1,000-mile round-trip drive?
Answer: The opportunity to attend the #CUE19 Spring Conference, well worth every hour (9 each way) from Folsom to Palm Springs and back!
This year marks my 10th year to attend CUE. Every year offers new opportunities for learning about powerful strategies and tools for extending teaching and learning. With hundreds of sessions to choose from, it’s always a challenge to narrow it down to a single one per time slot. Below are a few of my #CUE19 takeaways.
In the past, Thursday has always been a full day of workshops and sessions, with Saturday being a half day. This year, the CUE team reversed the schedule, offering two sessions, starting 3:00 pm.
Session 1: How to Google Like a Pro – An Wren and Corey Mathias
I enjoyed An and Corey’s media literacy approach to helping students become more effective with their online searches. If you scroll through their slideshow, you will find a number of helpful tips and resources, such as Catlyn Tucker’s Got Credibility spreadsheet and an excellent list of Chrome extensions. My favorite is Wakelet, “a free platform that allows you to curate and organize content to save and share.” I’ve been meaning to explore Wakelet ever since my friend/CUE co-presenter Rob Appel recommended it to me. The link to the handy Wakelet guide included in An and Corey’s slides is exactly the piece I needed to actually sit down and get started building my Wakelet account and collections.
Session 2: General Session & CUE Duet
To truly do justice to the energy level of Thursday’s general session, I recommend listening to moderator John Eick’s brief podcast introduction to the CUE Keynote Duet.
This session was filmed, so if it’s made available to the public, I will definitely update this post with the link. Bringing Alice Chen and Martin Cisneros together on stage was a very good idea. As they tackled topics like a “fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset,” “equality vs, equity,” “achievement gap vs. engagement gap,” and the importance of student voice, you could feel the audience’s energy levels rising. Veronica Godinez beautifully summed up the Duet keynote in a single Tweet:
Alice Chen has been a source of inspiration ever since we met at the 2012 Microsoft Innovative Educators Seattle Summer Conference and then again at the 2012 Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View. Technology tips from an outstanding middle school English teacher are always gems.
This was my first time to hear Martin Cisneros present. His passion for equity and inclusion, combined with his humor and a dose of Spanish all contribute to his ability to 100% pull in the audience.
So the secret to organizing a thought-provoking, engaging duet is to have a hilarious moderator working with a dynamic duo. I hope CUE will build the Duet Keynote into future conferences.
Session 3: Got DigCit? – Ben Cogswell and Norma Gamez
I almost skipped this 8:30 am session (to do a little last-minute prep for my 10:00 session). I’m glad I joined Ben and Norma. Digital Citizenship is a topic near and dear to me. As the co-director of my district’s digital citizenship program, I really value opportunities to hear about ways other districts are weaving #DigCit into the school day, starting at the elementary level.
If you check out their presentation, you will see that in addition to pulling lessons and resources from Common Sense and other organizations, with a little help from some second graders, they even create their own:
They also brought up a good point on the two ways we need to be rolling out digital citizenship:
Attending Ben and Norma’s session was a great way to start day 2 of the #CUE19 Conference. I appreciated the reminder to attend and present at Monterey Bay CUE’s May 18 DigCit Summit in Salinas.
Session 4: Saving Democracy – Educator’s Survival Guide to Fake News Across the Curriculum – Glen Warren and Alan November
Having Glen Warren do your introduction would be a great start to any presentation. And Alan November kept Glen’s momentum and humor going throughout the session. I’ve been a long-time Alan November fan. I even have a signed copy of Who Owns the Learning. I frequently reference his Internet search tips in my own workshops (including Thinking Critically about the (Fake) News). So it was no surprise that I left with some great takeaways:
- Are cats smarter than dogs?/Are dogs smarter than cats? – What a great activity to bring back to the classroom. Have students partner up and each put in one of these opposing search terms. Students will quickly get the message that if you give Google enough information to indicate what your opinion is on a topic, Google will give you things to inform that opinion.
- Eliminate adjectives, adverbs, and verbs from your search terms. Stick to nouns – The less information you give Google, the better your results will be. Example: dogs, cats, debate would have been way more efficient in the above search.
- Use country codes – I learned this tip from Alan many years ago when I was teaching 5th grade. Students felt empowered when they realized they could research historical events from two sides of a revolution via country codes. Alan demoed the importance of country codes and search operators for finding information on the Iran-Contra events. Using “site:ac.ir conquest of the american spy den,” for instance, will bring up better results than “Iran Contra investigation,” which is equivalent to searching “are cats smarter than dogs?/are dogs smarter than cats?”
- One last suggestion – Dig deeper in to search strategies by taking Dan Russell’s Power Searching course.
Alan ended his session with a shout-out to Wikipedia, our “most important crowd-sourced resource.”
Session 5: Thinking Critically about the (Fake) News – Rob Appel, Kelly Mendoza and Gail Desler (me)
We wondered if we would have much of a turn out for our session since it was following Alan November’s. We did. The room was packed.
Over the past year, we have continued to update and add to our resources, with the goal of providing tips for helping students (and ourselves) to step out of “filter bubbles,” to use effective search skills, and to become fact-checking pros (and lateral readers).
If you didn’t make it to our session, here’s the link to our session resources: bit.ly/MediaLitResources. (Note: You will need to login to your Google account to access our Google Site.)
Media literacy: It’s not a course that you teach once a week. It’s a way of thinking.” Jennifer Kavanaugh, co-author of Truth Decay
Session 6: Climbing the SAMR Model with Adobe Spark – Susan Millan and Marco Arellano
Attending an Adobe Spark session was high on my #CUE19 to-do list. What I love about Spark is that it’s a copyright friendly tool. Any images you add from Spark are licensed for reuse via Creative Commons – and come with the attribution embedded. Oh, and copyright-free background music is built into Spark voice recordings. Love it! I’m hoping my district can roll out the premium version of Adobe Spark, which eliminates the 13+ age requirement.
Besides a very complete presentation, this session was also recorded via Periscope.
Session 7: General Session & Keynote – ET, The Hip-Hop Preacher – Eric Thomas
If you read the session description, you might wonder why a preacher would be keynoting at a tech conference.
Eric’s message was for everyone who works with students, especially in high-poverty areas. He had all of us up on our feet chanting “I can. I will. I must,” with the hope that this chant will lead us to giving our students a personal aim to motivate them to succeed. “Students need to understand why they are in education and they need to establish their ‘AIM’ for their life.”
“We need to give school meaning for our students…. and convince them they want education as much as they want to breathe.”
Session 8: Can I Use That? Exploring Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons – Kelly Mendoza and Gail Desler (me)
If you were one of our participants, thank you for your great questions and your interest in the topic. Just wish this had been a 90-minute session.
As essential as this topic is to media literacy/digital citizenship programs, many educators are still not feeling fully confident of their understanding of copyright, their ability to flex their fair use muscles, and their understanding of Creative Commons best practices. It was exciting at the end of our session to have a number of participants ask if they could use our presentation … on Monday. If you missed our session, we’ll be submitting a proposal for Fall CUE. In the meantime, here is the link to our resources.
Session 9: BookSnaps – Tara Martin
So what’s a BookSnap? A term coined by Tara, “a BookSnap is simply a digital, visual representation used to annotate and share reflections of any excerpt of a book or text.” BookSnaps are also a powerful way for students to synthesize their thinking and “to draw connections based on what’s meaningful and relevant to them.” Even though Tara demonstrated how to create “booksnaps” with Snapchat, which is blocked for students in many districts (including mine), you can easily create and share BookSnaps in other programs, such as Google Slides, Google Drawings, the Book Creator App, or VoiceThread. BookSnaps have three elements: title, author, and what you’re thinking. The student samples below are from Tara’s website.
Tara has also included lots of videos to get you and your students BookSnapping. I’m pretty sure if BookSnaps were included as part of a literacy study, the research would show that, besides being a fun way to motivate student writers, students will also be able to recall more about books, articles, and passages they’ve read. #LoveBookSnaps
Session 10: Google for Education Certified Innovators Panel
Loved ending #CUE19 with 10 amazing teachers that were allowed 5 minutes each to wow the audience with ideas and tips for taking tech tools to new levels of awesomeness.
- Jo-Ann Fox: How To Create Student Voice Progress Reports – Autocrat tip: Wait until all students have submitted before you run Autocrat.
- Jenn Roberts: Got Some Data? – Spreadsheets + Data Studio allow you to pull large sets of data from spreadsheets and build dashboards.
- Scott Moss: Google Street View – That’s it! This year, before my June “bike ‘n barge” trip to Holland, I’m buying a 360° camera.
- Alice Chen: Cool Embeds in Docs – Want to pretty up a Google Doc? Embed a Google slide.
- Lisa Nowakowski: Hidden Gems in Google Draw – Google Drawings still seem like the overlooked stepchild of the G Suite for Education, yet Drawings offer so many practical and creative options for students and teachers.
- Nancy Minicozzi: Speech to Text and Translation in Docs – As you can see from Nancy’s slideshow, there a many classroom uses for the Voice Typing option (Tools dropdown). My favorite is not included: Voice Typing is built into Docs and, therefore, does not require downloading as an Add-on or extension. In my district, although teachers can download any Add-ons or extensions, students cannot, due to a school board policy that does not allow students to enter into contracts with 3rd party developers (it’s that part of the download that requires the student to agree to the developers’ terms and conditions). Thank you, Google for integrating this powerful tool directly into Docs!
- Ryan Easton: Google Apps That Run Better on a Tablet/iPad – 360° cameras can make videos interactive. Oh, wow, as the co-director of my district’s Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, I will be adding Manzanar 360 to our World War II story.
- Cynthia Nixon: Omnibox Search Tips – Want to save time when you need to search for something in your Google Drive? Four easy steps and you’re there.
- Judy Blakeney: Googley 21st-Century Writing – Definitely checkout Judy’s Workflow Guide.
- Matt Vaudrey: Teacher Report Card – Here’s a great conversation starter for your next faculty meeting. I’d love to see a companion piece where students create what they would consider a meaningful student report card 😉.
So many great sessions…all going on at the same time…so hard to choose – but, for sure, every session I attended was a good choice.
I don’t think I’ve ever included the CUE Exhibit Hall in my end-of-conference reflections (although I deeply appreciate every vendor’s support of CUE). This year, I want elementary and intermediate teachers to know about Cram Jams, music videos created by 3rd grade teacher Amelia and musician/husband Andy to help teach students about a variety of writing rules and tips. I’ve signed up for the free trial, but I already know I’m ready to commit to a $39 annual membership fee. Don’t let the intro video overwhelm you. Each topic comes with a 2-3 minute video, posters, and an accompanying lesson.
#CUE19 Comes to a Close 😞
Start to finish, #CUE19 was a fantastic three-day experience and learning journey. A huge thank you to the CUE Board and team members. You definitely delivered on your promise of “Dozens of Workshops * Hundreds of Sessions * Countless Memories.”
If you have anything to add to my session descriptions, please leave a comment.
Already looking forward to #CUE2020!