Myrtle Beach Days!

Not to make anyone jealous, but I’ve actually not been to work all week.  *grin*  I’ve been enjoying the nice (well it WAS nice) weather over here in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Each year I take the week off of school to come vacation for a few days and then attend the EdTech Conference.

Mom and I arrived in Myrtle Beach on Saturday, and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to drive/arrive.  Yes, you read right, my Mom comes with me each year – hey, she lets me use her time share exchange so I don’t have to pay for a hotel!  The least I can do is let her tag along and be her chauffeur for her shopping excursions.  Such a hardship on my part isn’t it?  Sunday was an equally beautiful day; however, Monday through Wednesday it rained.

This year, to save my school/self money, I became a full-time volunteer for EdTech in order to receive free registration – all I have to do is attend assigned sessions and scan peoples badges for those wanting to receive recertification credit.  How cool is that?!  The beauty is that I was assigned almost (if not all) of my first choices in sessions.  Gotta love those EdTech folks!  I also helped stuff conference bags Tuesday night.  Let me tell you, those EdTech folks are a hoot!  I never thought I’d have fun stuffing bags.

Anyway, as a way to 1) prove to folks (sic principal) I did attend sessions, 2) have a record of my notes for referral, and 3) share what I’ve learned with you guys, I’ll once again post my notes and thoughts about my conference experiences.  So here goes:


Your 2.0 Sandbox: Come Play and Learn – presented by my good friend Cathy Nelson.  I hadn’t planned on attending any sessions on Wednesday, but since it was for Cathy, I of course volunteered to facilitate!  As always, I had fun.  I also enjoyed going to lunch with MaryAnn Sansonetti, Julia Davis, Jessica (sorry, can’t remember your last name!), Cathy, and Chris Craft.  MaryAnn sure loves hush puppies!

SC Online Resources – presented by Catherine Giddens from SC Department of Education – focus was on online professional development opportunities for South Carolina teachers.  They also mentioned (formerly MarcoPolo) and DISCUS.

I was invited to attend a DEN dinner by three different people (thanks guys!) and got to hear more about OnePlaceSC and the great services Discovery Education provides.  My whole lunch group was there along with some other folks I know (in person or by reputation) and I’m seriously considering applying to be a DEN STAR Educator.


Today I had a full schedule of sessions to work/attend.  The day started with a bang, started to peeter our, but then finished on a high note for me.

Encouraging Reading Through Technology: Ideas on How to Promote YA Books – Presented by CayLen Whitesides and Robin Mitchell from York Comprehensive High School

Awesome session!  Well worth getting up early to attend.  Here are my notes:

  • Use Photostory Booktalks (written/performed by students) as part of their independent novel projects.
  • Put message on the marque outside the school (at the road) “Read More Books” so passerby’s are reminded to read, too!  In our case, we’d put this on our internal message board.
  • Senior Athletes Read: The media specialists create READ posters of the high seniors to post around the schools.  The seniors choose the book they want to be photographed with and the location of the photo shoot.  The media specialists also created “trading cards” of the seniors with the READ photo/poster, team name, student name, and jersey number on the front.  The back contains their stats: graduation year, position, height, weight, AND FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK.
  • In conjunction with the Senior Athletes Read, the school’s COACHES organize the student athletes to go to the elementary school to read to the youngsters.  They hand out their trading cards to the kids (’cause to the elem kids, the high school students are their heroes just as college and pro athletes are our kids heroes)  Of course, their school has a block (or in our school, a class period) assigned as athletic practice.
  • Author cards – similar to their senior trading cards, but the front is the picture of a book and the back contains the authors webpage, a couple of other titles, and just a bit about the author.
  • Book flyers – picture of the book, summary, and other titles.
  • Book PowerPoints – cover of book, book summary, StreamlineSC (United Streaming to non-South Carolinian’s) video clips for relevant info (example, for The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti they included a clip about elephants and another about teen panic attacks.)
  • But the best of the best (for me – and a “duh” moment) was the idea of using a digital picture frame as a literacy promoter.  They save their PPT slides as jpegs and load them to the digital picture frame to highlight whatever they are promoting – be it a single title, an author spotlight, a genre’ spotlight, etc.  She also stated they wrote a grant to pay for purchasing them!  How cool!  [An audience member stated that they now make digital photo frames that play MP3 and/or .avi files.]

Cool Free Tech Tools for Teacher Use – Presented by Michael Edwards from Pelion High School

Presenting freeware products that could be useful in classrooms.  The majority of the items are “games” that he created himself using Mediator software.  I would link to them, but don’t have his permission.  If I obtain permission, I’ll update this post.  The tools he shared include: Cool Timer, TI Flash Debugger, Random Student Picker, Jeopardy 3/4, Adventures in Learning, Koosh Ball Kraze 1 & 2, Trivial Pursuit, President Squares, Think Link, Wheel of Knowledge, Beat The Clock, Seen it: Physical Science Edition.

Apple – Engaging Learners with Innovative Technologies – presented by Janice Adams – showed us some tips and applications in Mac OS X – Leopard.  Included: dictionary app, widget feature in Safari, calculators (standard, scientific, programmers) and Grapher (graphing calculator app).  There were more, but I can’t recall them right now.

The next session I went to was horrible and I won’t embarrass the presenter by documenting it here.  The name for the session was a TOTAL misdirection and if I hadn’t been assigned to scan recert cards, I would have walked out.

Is There a “Second Life” for teachers and students? – presented by Gary Senn.  I’m a total beginner with the whole Second Life phenom.  I had already created an avatar (Sayrah Glazner), and finally was able to get off of the Intro Island prior to the session.  This session was good for me in learning more about how to move around/interact and for places to visit in SL for educators.  I was too busy trying to manuver w/in the program to take notes.  I still don’t know/believe there is a place for SL in my school (or any school), but I had fun learning more about SL.

Overall, today was a good learning day.  I hope tomorrow will be, too!  Somehow, the EdTech folks forgot to assign me to an 8am session, so I’m thinking of sleeping in another hour before heading out to the convention center. Think anyone will miss me?  Of course, the sessions all look like vendor pitches, so I don’t think I’ll miss out on anything…no money or clout to purchase their stuff!

***Note to me for things to bring next year:  a power strip!  I was surprised to see how many people brought laptops.  I’d say the number trippled or quadruppled over last year.  In most sessions there are only one or two power plugs and you have to get there early if you want to plug up or recharge your batteries.

3 thoughts on “Myrtle Beach Days!

  1. Jessica’s last name is Donaldson and you will get to know here as you strive for DEN STAR Status! Thanks for taking such good notes. I was in the same session you did not comment on but I was one of the lucky few who did get to plug in so that is one reason I stayed. But you are RIGHT. It was BAD!! I hope you enjoyed today too. I enjoyed the WIZIQ session that John Woodring did and you were in there too. What did you think?

    I will have to blog on my recollections too. Be sure to fill out the online evaluation for the conference. I put on my last question in the online eval that there should be some way to get credit for being at the conference center in the exhibit hall or networking out in the lobby. I missed an entire session due to getting help from John Woodring with figuring out video conferencing. SO I should be able to get recert credit for that hour even though I wasnt in a session. I WAS onsite and engaged in learning. Why shouldn’t that count? I asked that the committee (me included) try to hash out a way to reward those who stay to visit vendors or network with other attendees for the sake of learning and improving engagement in the classroom. Sigh. I think I’ll include this in my blog post. Wow–you have inspired me.

  2. Thanks for reminding me of Jessica’s name! Sorry, Jessica. As my students will tell you, I’m horrible with names. I’m getting better, but it’s like I have a memory block when it comes to remembering names. Especially when I only hear them. I’m better if I’ve read or written the name down.

    Anyhoo, I think I like WIZIQ, but since we had such bad internet connectivity, I’d like to give it a try/test with some other folks. John did well and I was impressed with the presentation – speaking with the remote folks! I did fill out the online evaluation and made some constructive criticisms for areas I thought could use some improvement. I will say that I had a MUCH better experience this year vs. last year. I think a lot had to do with being a volunteer (having another purpose) and spending more time with other attendees such as yourself.

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