Category Archives: Conference

Twitter, IFTTT, and Evernote for Taking Notes

At a recent conference, I was teasing a friend between sessions that I didn’t see any tweets from him during the last session. He mentioned that he was too busy taking notes to tweet. I mentioned that my tweets are a main component of my notes during conferences.

I do like to share the information that I am learning at a conference for those who are not lucky enough to attend. I have also found that trying to take notes then tweet is both time consuming and that I can miss something while trying to share my notes. My note-taking process during a conference is using Twitter, Evernote, and an IFTTT recipe.

I always have Evernote open during a conference to take notes because not all content is necessary Twitter worthy, but is necessary for me to know and keep. There also tend to be instances where 140 characters are simply not enough to thoroughly take the notes.

Using an IFTTT recipe (similar to this one) that saves all of my favorite tweets to Evernote, I am able to capture my tweets as notes in Evernote. This recipe is helpful in two ways. The first is that the material that is Twitter worthy gets typed in 140 characters and tweeted without being typed into or copied from Evernote notes. Once the session over, I quickly favorite my own tweets. These tweets are sent as separate notes to my Evernote inbox folder. The second is that I can favorite tweets from either the same session or other sessions going on at the conference and have those tweets go to my Evernote inbox as well. This is great for when people are tweeting apps, ideas, or quotes from other sessions that I want to look into at a later time.

After the conference is over, I tend to debrief with my notes and combine them into one or two master notes with different sections for the main topics. All of my tweets are saved as separate notes and I pull the relevant information into my master notes. In addition, it gives me time to review the tweets that I favorited that I didn’t have time to look into during the conference sessions.

I realize that this may be a little time consuming, but I do like essentially “live” tweeting from conferences and being able to save some time by letting my tweets be my notes.

ACTE Region V Recap

The ACTE Region V Conference is one of my favorite conferences to attend. It is small enough that you can easily network with others and you get to steal/borrow ideas from other states to apply them into your school or state. This year’s conference was no exception as it provided some informative sessions and great chances to talk to fellow educators. Here is a brief recap of the sessions I attended:

  • Leadership 101 – While I attended this one late due to a flight, I still got some great information about advocacy and was able to identify some other state leaders to discuss the benefits/drawbacks of potentially being a unified state later in the conference.
  • First Time Attendee Reception – This is not my first Region V conference, as part of the Membership Committee, I attended this conference and discussed the things I wish I knew at my first conference. That lesson was to network with others and not to be afraid to talk to those who have been attending the conference for years and in some cases decades.
  • Working Together for Success: Core & CTE – This session was led by one of the teachers I work with and I was there for moral support and to answer some logistics questions about how we run school-wide PBL activities.
  • Industry Tour at Harley-Davidson – This was probably the one thing that went really wrong. We showed up 10-15 minutes late (despite leaving on-time) and were refused a tour of the manufacturing plant.
  • ACTEAZ Circle of Distinction – This was a very informative session on how Arizona ACTE utilizes the decision-makers in companies to help them advocate for CTE which they desperately needed this year. It is definitely something that I want to incorporate in Nevada and I also learned that I don’t want to move to Arizona.
  • Introduction to Effective Advocacy Techniques – When it comes to advocacy, you can’t get enough tips and ideas. This was a great session that gave me some ideas and was interesting to see how California CTE has been advocating for such a large state.
  • State of the State – This is the business meeting. I gave Nevada’s state of the state, but it is interesting to hear about the educational climates in other states and how states are dealing with legislators and membership concerns.
  • Leadership Networking – This was an informal meeting that involved adult beverages. It was another chance for state leaders to ask questions of other leaders and to get some advice.

While I couldn’t stay to the end of the conference, I did enjoy my short stay in Kansas and at Region V. Next year, it is in San Diego and it looks like they have some great things planned.

Apps from Leslie Fisher’s NACTE 2014 Keynote

I plan to post some more information from the NACTE 2014 conference, but I wanted to share the apps that Leslie Fisher (Twitter, Website) presented during her keynote address on Thursday.

ACTE Vision2013

For the past four days, I have been attending the ACTE Vision2013 Conference (online program). Networking, listening to keynote speakers, learning new information is always great, but I have some mixed impressions about this conference for a variety of reasons that I will highlight below:

The Good:

  • Three keynote speakers and all three were excellent. Probably the best keynotes I have seen at an ACTE conference.
  • Technology – Free WiFi and it was fairly fast, ACTE Mobile App, text messages for Vision2014. This was a significant improvement from the last few years where there was no WiFi or it was $20 per day.
  • Information – The information in the sessions I did attend was helpful and I plan to use it in the near future.
  • Leadership Training (pre-conference) – I didn’t know what to expect, but I learned a lot from these two sessions.
  • My first conference as a state leader. This meant some required events where I got to meet some new people from a variety of other states.
  • Nevada receiving a QAS award for it’s association.

The Not as Good:

  • The conference was in a town that I live in. It was hard to stay motivated to attend networking events when my family and warm bed were waiting for me.
  • My first conference as a state leader meant that there were sessions I could not attend because of the required events. Being in the state leader meetings will more than balance out the missed information especially since the presentations will be online.
  • Session length – 90 minutes was a little long for the sessions. I liked last year’s format with 2 hour “Deep Dives” in some topics and 1 hour “Idea Labs” for others. I realize this is logistically difficult, but I thought ACTE did a great job last year with it and disappointed they bailed on it after only one year.

Learning Something New

I am attending the Magnet Schools of America conference this week in Tulsa. While this conference is a little smaller than some of the other conferences I have attended recently, that doesn’t mean it is short on content.

Tony Wagner was the keynote speaker via Skype, but it was interesting. Tony was advocating that today’s learning needs to value teamwork, be interdisciplinary, make student creators and not consumers, allows for risk taking and making mistakes, and allow for iteration. Students need to “fail early and fail often” and reflect back on their work. Tony argued that an F is the new A. Student who have attempted something and failed may have learned more than the straight A student who has not.

Tony believe that we need to hold teachers accountable for what matters most. The key is what does this look like and could it be determined through a sampling strategy. He also points out that teachers spend too much time complaining about the current assessments and not enough time offering solutions. Another of his suggestions is to change the grading system to A, B, or Incomplete. The student has either mastered the learning standard, achieved the standard, or has not reached it yet.

The final point that I want to mention from Tony’s keynote is the suggestion that each state as a research and development division for education. He says companies spend millions in R&D to improve their products and services so why shouldn’t states do the same with education. I particularly liked this idea and think that it can start at a school or district level first.

I will discuss the other sessions that I attended tomorrow. These sessions included a college/high school partnership, using the class as a production company, and tips for using social media as a school.

GTAMTV Review – Where to Start?

This is a question that I have been asking myself since I returned from the Google Teacher Academy – Mountain View. I have so much information that I want to share with my colleagues, students, and educators around the country that I have no idea where to start. I’ve tried breaking it down by tool, relevant subject area, and/or importance, but I have found that there is too much overlap and it was becoming more work than when I started.

Partial Notes from GTAMTV

During my prep period today, I went into the principal’s conference room and just started writing on the whiteboard. I put ideas, tools, subject areas, and whatever else I thought on the board. I started drawing arrows, questions marks, and asterisks. The whiteboard looks like a mess and after a half hour or so, my principal walked in to see what I was doing in her conference room.

She smiled and asked me to explain one of the items on the board. I picked the research tools in Google Docs because it is something that can help our teachers right away. From there, I started to randomly work my way around the board trying to do a quick summary of each item. Another teacher walked into the room and says, “Tell me about the YouTube thing.” I give a quick summary of the YouTube Editor and move on to one of the other related topics. I stop to take a breath and my principal asks me to stop talking and asks what are the most important items that you can do professional development on that will get the school the biggest bang for the buck.

I circle about five broad topics that will have the biggest impact on the school. We work out a date in January and I am going to be presenting those topics to a select group of students and teachers that want to come in on a Saturday to learn more about Google. I am going to develop the presentation as a “train the trainer” style professional development because those students and teachers will be able to go to their departments and friends and show them some of the great things that I learned next week.

Professional development with Google tools is not part of my action plan since I do a lot of professional development already with Google Apps and iPads. Today was a good day. I was able to finally organize some thoughts, get feedback, and start to create a plan to share what I have learned. I plan to post more information about my experiences at GTAMTV and share the knowledge that I learned, but I first needed to find a place to start and with some help from my friends, I found that place.

ACTE Vision 2012: Days 2 and 3

I know that I promised a post on My Vision 2012 sessions yesterday, but it was a busy day and I didn’t get back to the hotel until late last night. The second day sessions were just as good as the first day’s.

Session 1: Imagine Tomorrow: Where Information Technology Projects Are Interactive, Student-driven and Engaging From Conception to Completion

I will admit that I am biased about this session because two of my fellow Southwest CTA teachers were the presenters, but this was an excellent sessions. The focus of the presentation was on developing student-driven projects that are not only meet the course goals but also engaging and interactive. The presenters described how the senior class has created a company that builds websites for clients. The students created departments, apply for jobs, and assign tasks for projects while the instructor is there for guidance. Students in their other classes have created a virtual tour of the school through QR codes and hosted a technology conference for middle school students through these student-driven projects. It is a great opportunity for students to take ownership in their education.

Session 2: Implementing a Successful Credentialing Program

This session was not on my original list, but after hearing the things that are going on in Virginia Beach, I decided to attend this session. The number of credentials that this district is using is incredible. While this is not something I can’t directly use in my classroom, it will help me advocate for getting certifications in my classroom and other classroom in my school. Students and employers see the true value of these credentials and it is a great way to make sure students are career ready.

Session 3: Effective State Leadership for CTE
I had not planned on attending a session during this time slot, but my principal encouraged me to go. I have seen Dr. Daggett’s presentation before on our campus and it was great to hear some of it again. I was impressed with what the state of Georgia is doing with their performance framework. While the main components of the framework are similar to ours, it was interesting to see the areas where schools could earn bonus points. These included capstone projects for seniors and portfolios in the 5th grade. These ideas are not earth shattering or particularly difficult and make great sense, it makes me worry about where Nevada is headed because it seems like we are slow to include reforms like these.

Session 4: The Globalization of Technical Education Partnerships

Another sessions where there were not a lot of things that could go directly into my classroom, but provided me with some advocacy information that I can take to others. The partnerships that the panel members have formed in countries like Germany, Morocco, Greece, and China are incredible. They have formed great relationships that is a win for all parties.

I didn’t attend any in the final time slot because I was attending a Nevada ACTE board meeting to start planning our summer conference. It is a rarity when most of the board is together in one place so it was great to be in a room together to start hashing out the structure for our conference.

Day 3:
On the final day, I did not attend any individual sessions, but I did attend the closing session. Roland Fryer was the perfect final day speaker. He was funny, engaging, informative, and in the end gave us something to think about. It is with positive speakers like him and conferences like ACTE that give me hope that education is moving in the right direction.

I can’t wait for ACTE Vision 2013 in Las Vegas. I have great expectations for the sessions there since each year I attend ACTE, I learn more and more through the sessions.

ACTE Vision 2012 Part 2: The Excellent

Based on my previous post, many of you may think that my ACTE experience so far has been negative. It hasn’t been because the sessions are awesome. Here is a summary of the individual sessions that I attended today. Please email or post a comment if you want my full notes.

Session 1: The Economic Vitality Formula of Success

This was a great session that as a teacher/community partnership coordinator was well above my pay grade, but at least I was in the room so I can share these ideas with those who have the right pay grade. I also game up with a great project for me to work on at school as well. The focus of this session is that the combination CTE and workforce development with local industry will equal economic vitality for the city. Students in Virginia Beach are working towards receiving industry credentialing as well as a workplace readiness skills test. The school district and the economic development board can showcase the skills that students are learning in the city when they go to recruit new businesses to the area. By focusing on the skills and talent that the city is producing locally, they are able to help persuade companies to move their business to the area because the workforce is educated and prepared with the skills those companies need. This gave some great ideas to bring back to Nevada to highlight what is happening in the career and technical academies as well as the schools that incorporating CTE programs of study.

Session 2: The New Middle Skilled US Employment Marketplace: The How and  Why Higher Education Will be Changed Forever

This session focused on how employers are changing the way that they look for candidates and how candidates are changing to be prepared for careers. Frank Britt discussed how the paradigm in education needs to change to be focused on real learning and not necessarily seat time. The explosion of MOOCs are giving candidates a chance to focus on skills that they need for a career and are more competency-based. Mr. Britt explained that companies are now starting to push for more competency-based degrees and that higher education schools are becoming retailers of education. Students will not be able to afford the average annual increases in tuition forever and alternative methods to learn skills will are required to work in industry. Education needs to change their thought process in how they deliver content because there are so many options for students that prefer to learn digitally.

Session 3: Changing Student and Community Perceptions of Manufacturing

This session focused on methods to get students interested in the manufacturing industry. There is a large skills gap in manufacturing and that gap is going to get larger as baby boomers start retiring. The problem is that many students, parents, and educators perceive manufacturing as a low-wage, low-skill job or that all the manufacturing jobs are in China. The truth is that these manufacturing jobs require a high-skilled workforce and pay well. This presentation focused on what the Connecticut Community College System is doing to recruit students through camps, expos, tours, and internships to name a few. The system has shown success and hopefully other states can replicated it to meet the 600,000 manufacturing jobs that currently need to be filled.

I will post summaries of my sessions from day two tomorrow evening.


During the past month, I have been working on several projects which has caused me to reflect on how I teach, what our school does well, and how have I managed to get here.

The first project was a presentation for the STEM Smart: Lessons Learned from Successful Schools workshop in Las Vegas. This presentation was hard because we had to capture what we do as a school to promote STEM and be successful at it. The problem was that we were confined to 45 minutes and had to address specific topics set by Successful STEM Education. Our topics included how we are setup as a CTE school, project-based learning (PBL), staff development, community involvement, incorporating technology, and a specific example of a STEM project that we incorporate. In the three plus years that our school has been open, we have done so many things that it is hard to capture all of it in 45 minutes. We tried to determine what our best practices are and highlight those. My component of the presentation was the community involvement and incorporating technology where I focused on our use of Google Apps for Education, the 1:1 iPad program, and the various other technologies seen our campus on a daily basis. The majority of my time was spent on Google Apps for Education and the iPad program especially since we started collecting data on our student’s usage of those tools, but it was important not to skip out on the other items like Edmodo and laptop carts because they contribute to our school’s success. Our presentation, as well as all the others from the workshop, are available on the conference website.

The second project was working on an application for our school to earn an award. I am not sure if I can disclose the award that we are applying for so I will not mention it by name. This was an application that our three administrators, myself, and an English teacher have been working on for awhile. Like the STEM presentation, this application was difficult because we needed to capture everything within a specific word limit. For the most part, we were able to stay within the word limit in the first or second draft in most sections. Unfortunately, the sections that we were over in, we were over by hundreds of words. Through some creative writing and some major cuts to sections, we were able to get all of the sections within the proper word count.

The final project that I am working on (not completed yet) is the Google Teacher Academy application. For an application that I have previously completed, this has been a learning experience for me. Obviously, since I did not get into the last Google Teacher Academy, I have been rethinking every answer that I gave on the last application. This may mean that I am answering questions with different examples all together or just rewriting sections to make them better. I am not done with the application yet because I need to cut some words from most of the sections and edit a video.

I mention these three projects because while it is sometimes difficult to be limited by time or word counts, I think it is an important exercise in reflection. I have had to think about what is really important in each section of a presentation or application and be able to convey that message in a limited space. I always want my students and my children to get to the point without rambling and now the shoe is on the other foot and it is my turn to get to the point. These presentations and applications have been great at getting me to think about what is important, what do we do really well, and how can I present it in short period of time. While it may be difficult, I have enjoyed the journey and I look forward to future chances to reflect back on the opportunities that have been given to me at Southwest CTA.

Nevada ACTE 2012 Presentations

One of the conferences that I attend every year is the Nevada ACTE conference in Lake Tahoe. I like this conference because it is small enough that you can have face-to-face conversations with peers from around the state, but large enough to provide excellent choices for presentations to attend.

This year, I presented three different topics. During the Administration Division meeting, I presented “Get Your Head and School into the Cloud.” The primary focus of this presentation was on how Google Apps for Education can improve communication, organization, and productivity for school administrators. This was one the more difficult presentations that I have had to put together because I am not an administrator. I help my school’s administrators get the most out of Google Apps, but I cannot speak on the day-to-day use as an administrator. The session went well as most of the questions focused on what the school as a whole does and not specific administrative duties.

My second presentation was for the Information and Media Technology division, titled “Every Thing in Evernote.” I was asked by the IMT division vice-president to talk about Evernote because every time I do a presentation, I mention it multiple times. This presentation was shorter in terms of time, but not much easier. It was difficult to set up and get ready to do back-to-back presentations in two different rooms on two different topics. This presentation went well because I was able to show examples of how I organize my classroom, curriculum, and other tasks using Evernote. It is hard to touch on everything that Evernote can do for a teacher in 30 minutes, but hopefully some of the teachers will be able to start using Evernote for their classrooms.

My final presentation was for the general sessions on the second day of the conference, titled “iPad Apps for Classroom Management.” This was my easiest presentation because I had done it before for an individual school in the spring. These are all apps on my iPad that I use to help manage my classroom. I do use additional apps, but these are the main iPad apps that are most helpful to me.

As far as sessions that I attended, Adobe did a hands-on session using some of the new tools is CS6. While I don’t have CS6 in my classroom, it was great to see what is new and I can’t wait to get the software in my classroom. Jayme Rawson from East Career and Technical Academy did a great presentation title “Common Core State Standards – Putting it ALL Together” (PowerPoint file). She did a great job explaining that we did not need to know every aspect of the Common Core State Standards as CTE teachers, but how we can help English and Math teachers accomplish their goals.

I was the moderator/assistant for the other two sessions that I attended. Steve New, also from East Career and Technical Academy, did an excellent presentation on screen-casting titled “Maximizing your time while minimizing your effort through Screen-casting“. He did a good job explaining the options for screen-casting (PC and Mac), the benefits of screen-casts, and tips for beginners. The final general session that I observed was “Math, the Brain, and CTE” by Laura Reed. This presentation focused on providing hands-on math activities for CTE students since they tend to be kinesthetic learners.

Overall, it was a great conference that was informative and gave me some things to think about as the start of the school year approaches.