PL PuPu Platter: Highlights from the Hawaii International Conference on Education

As I write this, I am making the best use of my time during a substantial layover en route to Atlanta.  Though I am tired and my body isn’t sure exactly what time it is, I had such an enjoyable experience the four days that had the opportunity to spend in Hawaii presenting and learning at the Hawaii International Conference on Education.  First of all, the complimentary breakfasts were DELICIOUS.  (Be honest, free food excites you too.)  Beyond the great food that provided a brief culinary taste of Hawaiian cuisine (for example, banana apple fritters), the people who descended upon this conference were so friendly.  Then again, all of the Hawaiian people I encountered were also very warm and friendly.  I guess it isn’t too hard to be nice when the weather and sights are so breathtaking.

Some of the standout sessions I was able to attend included titles such as:

  • P-20 Collaboration and Instruction Practices: Enhancing Teacher Preparation in Georgia, by Vicki Luther of Mercer Univeristy;
  • Indigeneity: What is it and Why is it Important for School Leaders, by Dr. Ijeoma Ononuju of Northern Arizona State University;
  • Recruit, Retain, & Respond: Addressing the Elephant in the Room-The Teacher Shortage, by Kelly Olson-Stewart and Michael Stewart of Ashford University; and
  • Decoding Disney: Translating Imagineering Tricks into Teaching Strategies, by Mick Charney of Kansas State University.

It was so refreshing to see such an expansive array of topics being discussed and researched.  Furthermore, I found that there were a number of sessions that did not stray away from touching soft spots in education, more specifically the national (and international) teacher shortage as well as the importance of strong teaching practices (a.k.a. pedagogy) as more learning goes digital.

Without a doubt, I know that I will be able to translate and repackage this information to share with my Cobb County colleagues.  Furthermore, I am excited to see what national and international partnerships teachers within the CCSD can form with educators and researchers I met while in Hawaii.

I’ve gotta admit: I am really excited to have started the year with such great information that I can’t wait to share with you as well.

Ringing in 2017: Professional Learning in Paradise

To quote the CeCe Penniston classic from 1992, “finally it happened to me/right in front of my face/and I just couldn’t hide it.”  My two proposals were accepted at a conference.  It wasn’t just any old conference, because I have presented at conferences before, but an International one…in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii.

CeCe found the real man of her dreams in 1992, and I found out about this conference in the Fall of 2015 and submitted a couple of proposals.  They were accepted.  I was elated.  Unfortunately, I had to pull out of presenting because apparently it takes money to send someone from Atlanta to Honolulu.

The Fall of 2016 rolled around and I applied again.  This time I planned ahead and used my savings from my side job (we can talk about that bit at another point in time), and travelling to Hawaii went from being a dream and became a reality.

Being a rabid fan of the recent “Hawaii Five-0” reboot, I was ECSTATIC that I would be able to travel someplace new and augment my memory banks with more Professional Learning awesomeness. (No lie, I totally made sure to stop by all of the landmarks shown in the show beforehand, especially the famed King Kamehameha Statue which is in front of Five-0 “Headquarters”, which is really the Justice Building.)

I was so excited to see that my afro puff could be used to block the sun! #nofilter #afrofilter

So today, I begin this adventure of “Professional Learning in Paradise” here at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in super sunny Honolulu.  I can’t wait to learn, present what I know, and expand my professional learning network which will, in-turn, help me help my CCSD colleagues more.

STEM PLease!

Seriously, STEM is so much fun!  I just can’t seem to get enough of collaborating with teachers on STEM-y projects and I love delivering PL (Professional Learning) to share what I know with my colleagues.

Yesterday and today, I was honored to present to my fellow Cobb County educators (and many awesome educators from other districts here in Northern Georgia as part of STEM-a-Palooza 2016.  This three-day STEM bootcamp and PBL conference brought together presenters from the High Museum, Zoo Atlanta, as well as Cobb County School District, and many more.

I presented four different sessions:

  • Creating a Community of Exploration
    • Session Summary: Learn how to reset the culture of your classroom, team, and school to embrace exploration as a means for teaching and learning.
  • Cultivating Visual Literacy in the STEM Classroom (Co-presented with King Springs Elementary School STEM teacher Joannah Shoushtarian)
    • Session Summary: Learn how to construct student-driven lessons that integrate video production tools such as TouchCast as a means for developing digital and media literacy skills.
  • Genius Hour Quick and Dirty Tips
    • Session Summary: Do you want to try Genius Hour but don’t know where to start? In this session, learn how to present Genius Hour to your administration or staff and guide students (and their parents) through the process and expectations while maintaining a safety net so students feel comfortable in their exploration.
  • Harness the Power of Virtual Reality (Co-presented with Floyd Middle School 7th grade Science teacher Daniel Harbert)
    • Session Summary: Learn how to use and create virtual reality experiences to enhance classroom instruction.  Join us in exploring this new medium and come prepared to step into a new dimension in teaching and learning!

Over the next few days I will publish each session’s resources.  In the meantime, you can find them housed here.

Many thanks to the wonderful Dr. Sally Creel, STEM Supervisor for the Cobb County School District, for inviting me to participate in this event!