Sunday, October 27, 2013

#FallCUE -- It’s kinda like Christmas

I absolutely love Christmas. All of it. Every year we head up to Truckee and cut down a tree and it is one of my favorite things we do each year. Last year, my husband and I went with my parents and for the first time no kids. I took my iPod touch with me and recorded the tree falling and the sounds of the birds in the forest, uploading it to YouTube as soon as I got home. I also love reading cooking magazines and getting ideas for the dishes my mom and I will cook together. I love the music, the cinnamon scented candles, and the lights. I love seeing my family and connecting with friends. It’s not about the presents. Really, just get me some lip gloss and a bottle of wine and I am a happy girl! I love Christmas because of the whole experience of it and how happy it makes me feel.

That’s why #fallcue is like Christmas. If you asked me to tell you the best thing about the conference, I couldn’t tell you. It’s all of it. It’s about arriving a day early and going out to dinner with friends and people you just met in Healdsburg at the Bear Republic Brewery. It’s about the jalepeno tower burger with cream cheese and the outdoor heater, and the amazing ahi tacos at Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena that went perfectly with the sweet potato chili cheese fries. It’s about the conversation over pretzels and the ‘80’s music on the way back to the hotel. It’s the anticipation of the first day of the conference and changing your mind every time you look at the session schedule because there is so much awesomeness to choose from.

image credit @ucdjoe 

Fall CUE is like Christmas because every session has the potential to be as magical as opening a gift on Christmas morning. Where a session on math iPad apps with @skolhatkar can give you the chills and move you. Where you feel like a kid exploring the world of Minecraft even though you’re not very good at building and keep accidentally digging holes. When you listen to Ramsay Musallam’s @ramusallam keynote and you can’t wait to watch it again because there were so many things in it that I want to remember and share. It’s adding a #hashtag in your conversation and laughing even though it’s silly by now. #overkill

Ramsay Musallam Keynote

My Minecraft screen. So cool.

Fall CUE is like Christmas because we get to connect with others, to laugh, and talk and be social. 

It’s tweets like this by Teresa @bcoeedtech that made my day. What she doesn’t know is that I get my energy from the room! As tired as I was by the end of day 2, I was also energized and inspired with everything I saw and learned and shared. When I go to a conference, I want to experience it all. I arrive early and stay late and don’t want to miss a thing. I am sad for those who left early Friday and missed an amazing keynote. It's true that you might get to the hotel earlier or miss the dinner rush, but you might also miss that thing that touches your soul. You might miss something that challenges your thinking or motivates you to try something you never thought you would.

Fall CUE is like Christmas because of the conversation. But it’s not just conversation over the dinner table. It’s the conversation that’s happening in the session about creating Maker Spaces. It’s about the backchannel conversation on Today’s Meet that allows 50 participants to talk and share and listen while learning at the same time. It’s the conversation on Twitter that lets me know what’s inspiring others who are not in the same room as me, and allows people like my friend Poppi to be inspired from home. It’s the conversation in collaborative notes so you can feel like you were in every session. And, yes, it’s about the hashtags- especially #fallcue which is still continuing the conversation even when the conference is over.

My approach to Fall CUE was very different than Christmas shopping, where you arrive with a list of things you are looking for. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, or to master anything. I know enough about Minecraft to know I have so much more to learn! My list was simple.

Be inspired. Connect with people. Have fun.

And I did! I can’t wait for Palm Springs in March! It’s just like Christmas-- I’m counting the days!

Sparkle on!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Last week, I suffered a sparkle lapse. There, I said it. For the first time all year, I didn’t publish my staff blog. I think there was just a bit too much on my plate and I decided that I needed to be ok with skipping the week. Just this time. Maybe no one even noticed! My goal has been to blog each week, and I had been looking forward to this week- there was no way I was going to miss two in a row! In each week’s post, I have a “food for thought” section, where I try to share something fun, inspiring, or thought provoking. Sometimes it’s a video, a quote, or a story. Once in awhile it’s my own thoughts but I do love when I find something from one of my friends or colleagues to highlight in that spot. This week, I'm posting my food for thought here...

This morning, like many mornings, I was enjoying my coffee and checking out my email and Twitter. Bam! Inspiration hit me with my subscription to Katherine Sokolowski and her Read, Write, Reflect blog. It’s one of my favorites, and her posts always have me thinking. This week, her post is entitled “Let’s Celebrate!” and she shares about Ruth Ayres and her  blog challenge to share something to celebrate each week. Love! Check out Ruth's Celebrate Link UP where each week she invites you to share something you’d like to celebrate that week. I know that sometimes we can have a dark day, or a dark week- like last week when I lost my sparkle. But there is so much to celebrate! Here are some things that I’m celebrating this week- things that made my heart full and my spirit sparkle!

  1. Market Day! Our amazing 2nd grade teachers brought project-based learning to life as their students collaborated to create a “shop” where they provided a good or service to our K-3 students who shopped til they dropped! Students earned market bucks throughout the week for good behavior. The second grade students worked in teams and did an awesome job of getting their products ready- including several nail salons, a Minecraft prop shop, tissue flowers, and sparkly clay pots. Check out the Animoto and a few commercials  below! This was an excellent example of a real-life, relevant assessment of learning to culminate their communities unit. I ended up with a beautiful flower, a glittery pot, a hair band and a journal. Awesome!

Minecraft Props

Rockin’ Tattoos

Nail Polish Stars

Market day Animoto

  1. I am also celebrating our fearless new teachers who, with just two days GLAD training under their belts have been implementing strategies to increase student engagement! I dare you to say the word coniferous to a first grade student! They are sure to bust out with a motion and a super academic definition! Kindergarten students can tell you all about the Bald Eagle, and third graders can be heard chanting a rounding song, even at lunch! Our second graders are also immersed in their communities unit- with their own communities decorating our halls with rural and suburban examples. GLAD strategies are everywhere!
  2. October is Connected Educators Month! This is also something to celebrate! Many people may think of technology when they think of connected educators- teachers Tweeting, Skyping, blogging and more. For sure, those are ways to connect. But for me, being a connected educator is so much more. I am inspired daily by educators that I connect with- at my school, online, through the Area 3 Writing Project, and people I have met in person. This past summer, I met Nancy Minicozzi , known as @coffeenancy on Twitter this summer at CUE Rockstar Tahoe. Even though she did not attend my book trailer session, she has created several awesome book trailers and shared one with me today using Voki, a tool I did not know about! Check it out here!
  3. Finally, I’d like to celebrate that I work in a school that inspires teachers to be creative and innovative. As expected, teachers start with the grade level standards when designing curriculum. Then, teachers consider the students, their interests, and instructional needs and design something customized just for them. It is a TON of work, but the results are amazing when teachers aren’t bound by a scripted textbooks.

There’s so much more to celebrate! The beautiful fall weather, the Harvest Festival, and the Book Fair is coming to my school!

What are you celebrating this week? Click on Today’s Meet and share something you love!