#WVSTC 2016, Pt. 2

We’ll pick up right where we left off last week and begin this week with the sessions that I presented at WVSTC.

This year I presented two sessions on my own, and I co-presented a third session with some other colleagues. This year I presented Twitter 101, Coding Clubs, and co-presented #wvedchatLIVE! As always, I wasn’t finished with either presentation beforehand, but this year it was because of the classwork, the prep for the move, and the driving back and forth to my new district to take care of things. Thankfully my one session was very hands-on. Unfortunately, guess who decided to get creative with the handout she created for it? Yup, me. Thankfully, neither of my sessions were on Tuesday afternoon, and they were spread out as well. I did my Twitter session on Wednesday afternoon, my Coding session on Thursday morning, and the co-presentation immediately after my Coding one. I also didn’t have to prepare anything for the #wvedchatLIVE one because the main presenter had already taken care of everything. I just had to participate and help out.

My first session, Twitter 101, was meant to be a step by step session and help educators get started using the platform. I discussed key Twitter terms, and then we delved into getting started. Step by step we created usernames, looked up users to follow (and followed them),
looked at various hashtags, discussed the purpose of edchats, and then looked at an easy way to organize Twitter using Tweetdeck. Really there’s so much to do with Twitter that it should be multiple sessions over a period of time with help, but when it comes to a conference, you can’t really do that. I did have a pretty decent turnout, and I gave out quite a few of my cards. Quite a few people were very pleased with my session, and I felt pretty good about it. I still think there is more that can be done to assist teachers, but again, not something that can be done in a conference session.

My second session on Coding Clubs was first thing Thursday morning and I wasn’t sure that I would have many people show up to an 8 AM session, but I had a packed room. Granted, it was one of the smaller rooms, but I had people squeezed in. We held discussions on how to start the clubs, and I told them about how the handout had many free links to help get them started. The second part of the session I had pulled out all of my coding board games and devices and let the attendees look at them and play with them. They would ask questions about which ones worked best for each level, and I told them, also reminding them that the information would be in the handout as well. At the end of the session, I was able to give out more business cards so that anyone could contact me should they need me.

After my Coding Clubs session, I had to hightail it over to the #wvedchatLIVE! session across the hall. Thankfully it hadn’t started yet. The goal of this session was to do an edchat with the audience right there and let them see the benefits in person. This way, we could also provide any help and assistance as necessary. Randall, who was leading the workshop, had already pre-scheduled the questions to be asked so he was able to hold discussions and answer questions in between about the edchat as well. We had a smaller audience than anticipated, but the ones who were there were actively participating. I would love to see if, in time, more folks join our biweekly chats on Twitter. I haven’t been active lately, so I don’t know if the amount of participants increased last time or not.

I was much more pleased with the outcome of all of my sessions this year over last year’s. At least this year, I had more people in attendance, and more folks asking questions along the way, too. I felt more confident in my presentation manner, but that’s most likely because it was my second year presenting. I also had my roommate, aka the amazing Dr. Rikki Lowe, livetweeting both of my sessions. I still think that next year I will do just
one session. Then again I’m pretty sure I thought that last year as well, and that didn’t go as planned…I just get too eager to share my stuff!

In addition to the sessions I attended, I also attended the Twitter edchat meetup for #wvedchat, the STEM Playground, and the TIS Reception. Both of these are my ways of making connections with other colleagues around the state, and I wouldn’t miss out on the good food either!

Immediately after the last session of the day on Tuesday, WVSTC hosted its very first STEM Playground. I had brought my coding games and such to use in my presentation, so at the last minute I asked those in charge if they wanted me to set up a spot with my stuff. They were happy to add me and get me a table. I spent 2 hours sharing my games and letting parents and teachers explore their options for preschool on up. It was fun, but very tiring.

Tuesday evening was also our Twitter edchat meetup, so we went to the Mountain State Brewery in Morgantown, WV for some yummy pizza and trivia night. Last year we’d done well with trivia. This year I didn’t even participate, as our group was so big and spread out over a long table. I did enjoy discussing technology toys, Pokemon Go, and things I’d
learned about at the conference so far. The Twitter edchats are meant to be a fun way to relax and kick back with faces that one might only know from online. I also loved that we had more people attending this year as well!

The TIS Reception on Wednesday evening is a time for all current TIS Cohort members and alumni to come together for a couple of hours. Everyone enjoys good food, which was provided by the Waterfront Hotel again this year, and then we have some kind of shareout activity. A Genius Hour was scheduled, but not many people stepped up to take a slot, so it simply became a time to shareout a new technology tool instead. I had already volunteered to present on Mystery Skype. It was very easy to prep for, as I’d already written up a getting started blog post. I used my time to demonstrate what it was through video, and then when all was said and done, I was able to hand out notecards with my QR code link to the blog post. I had a lot of people take one, and they would tell me they’d never heard of Mystery Skype before. I hope that some of them at least give it a shot! The only sad part about the TIS Reception is that we found out one of the cohort leaders, Valerie, was set to
retire before the year was out. It was a bit of a damper, but we all wish her the best of luck. She is one amazing lady!

Overall I greatly enjoyed my time at the conference this year. Everyone kept asking me if I would be returning next year since I’m now employed in Virginia. I told them I would definitely be back because I would hate to miss out on seeing all of my colleagues and catching up. Plus, I simply love the atmosphere, and love giving back some of the knowledge that I have gained. Wouldn’t trade that for the world!

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