Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Ten Things I Learned from My iPadpalooza Experience

We often tell our students or our own children that everything will work out ok... "be brave"... "don't worry so much".... (and my all-time fav) "just do your ________"... Yep- see! you can fill in the blank because, as adults, we say it often. We can say these things with such certainty because, being the ever-wise and worldly beings that we are, we know that truthfully there is very little that can be so earthshaking that it alters the world as we know it. But what happens when the roles are reversed and we're the ones who are looking at what we feel is impossible? That's the situation I found myself in recently.
My dear friend Daisy suggested that I submit a proposal to present at iPadpalooza this year. I honestly had no idea that speakers submitted proposals to present their material to share with others at various conferences. It was 11:00 at night when I ventured onto the site and submitted the proposal on a whim. And it was with crazy excitement, followed by sheer terror that I read the email saying my proposal had been accepted.
Over the weeks leading up to iPadpalooza, my anxiety mounted. My nerves swelled. My brain almost went *poof* just thinking about standing in front of people I didn't know sharing ideas from the classroom. "Well, why would you volunteer to talk about something you're too afraid to talk about?" my (sometimes too opinionated) daughter wondered. I explained that sharing ideas with other teachers actually excited me, and that I'd submitted the proposal to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself; but that if I was being honest, I was really scared. It was at this moment that my son chimed in with, "It's going to be fine, Mom. Just do your best. That's all they can ask for. You're worrying too much. That's what you always tell us." I wanted to shout, "YES BUT THIS IS A REEAAAALLLLLL PROBLEM! WITH REAL ANXIETY AND FEARS!" Instead I just told him he was absolutely right and that I was sure it would be just fine. 
So, with that, I give you my Top 10 Things I Learned at iPadpalooza:
#10: Food trucks are truly all they are touted to be.... and then some. Chilantro (Korean+Mexican Fusion) was the bomb! 
#9: the Belkin people showed me how to utilize the Stage app, which I've had for a year but never used because I didn't really realize all that it could do. And as an added bonus- the upgrade to Stage Pro was free that day! Ba-zinga! 
#8: I've considered purchasing one Sphero to tinker with in class, but wanted to know more. Luckily one of the challenges for the APPmazing Race was using a Sphero! 
#7: Daisy Marino (@daisyray215) shared lots of resources her students made using the Aurasma app and gave lesson ideas for class projects. Participants were also able to create an account and taught how to navigate the app if needed. I jotted down several ideas for lessons this school year! (Thanks, Daisy! :)) 
#6: I learned Carl Hooker (@mrhooker) and his Eanes ISD team are hands-down phenomenal! The conference was a pleasure to attend and ran smoothly with tons of opportunity for learning, sharing, and networking.
#5: Note to self: Must intentionally incorporate more coding apps into my students learning. While yes- I teach reading/language arts, the coding apps we checked out in Mark Montgomery's (@mmontgomery3) session had many tie-ins to problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration that I could see them easily lending themselves to the ELA classroom. See for yourself. Check out Cargo-bot, Lightbot (was several of my students favorite from last year), Fix the Factory (could see a tie-in with story-telling with this one; AND also available in GooglePlay store), Daisy the Dinosaur, and Move the Turtle
#4: My district subscribes to Discovery Education and while I utilize the videos available, there are a TON of resources and items available that I'm clearly not taking advantage of. In the session titled "Content to Creation" we learned about Builder Tools, specifically, Board Builder. 
#3: Kids are just plain amazing! We attended iPadpalooza's Youth Film Festival hosted at the Alamo Drafthouse which is an awesome movie venue all by itself, but stick the iPadpalooza team, kids who created the films all using IOS devices, and the presenters to watch and vote and it equals an AMAZING opportunity. As a kid I can't imagine seeing something I helped create on the big screen with popcorn and soda and a crowd of a hundred. Whaaaatttt?!!!!! Awesome.   
#2: It's ok to be scared. Fear and uncertainty in ourselves can push us to be better than we thought possible. And even though we think we might puke, we rarely do. (Always an added bonus, right?)


..... and the NUMBER 1 thing I learned through my experience at iPadpalooza:
When anyone looks to me for encouragement in something they think is impossible, I will be more specific in what strengths I see in them that I believe will help them nail it. I will no longer give the blanket, "It's going to be fine!" statement. (While I am still quite certain that it will be, that individual needs more feedback, to see what I see in them, to know they are awesome and WHY.) My daughter actually calmed my fears some the day before I left. "I know you're afraid. But you're going to do good. You talk all the time about this stuff. You get really excited, too, like we all know what you're talking about even when we don't. So see, just play like we're there and you're just talking away to us and you'll be ok." (Sometimes her opinions are spot on!)

Make plans now to attend next year's awesomeness! Ipadpalooza 2015 will be held June 23-15, 2015!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ipadpalooza Presentation #iplza14 "Blogging, Tweeting, Collaborating- Oh My!"