Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Learning Together at #MACUL16: A first-timers perspective

Whenever you go to a conference you have not attended before, you never know what you are going to get.  Will it be beneficial, or a waste of your time?  Will you walk away wondering if anything you learned will be implemented in your district, or will you rush back energized to try new things?  The MACUL conference is a big investment in a teachers time and energy.  It is a two-day conference that will require the teachers to be away from their students and families for that time.  It means preparing two days of sub-plans, crossing your fingers that they find a sub for your class for both days,   organizing transportation, and figuring out what exactly you want to focus on at a conference with more choices of sessions to attend than you could ever imagine.  It is an investment in time and energy, so I am always curious to hear what our "first-timers" think when they return.  Our next guest blogger is Michal Vandenberg.  She is a third grade teacher at Lake Center Elementary in Portage and MACUL 2016 was her first MACUL conference.
This was my first time going to MACUL and it was incredible!  It was so inspiring to hear from other educators who are doing amazing things in their classrooms.  Not only did the conference help me continue to wrap my mind around the concept of blended learning, but it also introduced me to some new ideas that I could take back and implement immediately.   I found myself overwhelmed with resources that I can save and revisit as I continue to create my blended classroom.    
Two things that I’m excited to try are Mystery Skype and BreakoutEDU.  I love the idea of expanding our walls and connecting with other classrooms around the country through Skype or Hangouts.  BreakoutEDU will be a fantastic way to help my students build collaboration and critical thinking skills.  I plan to use these challenges as a way to either introduce a new unit to my students or as a culmination activity for a unit.   
MACUL was such an energizing, eye-opening experience and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to go!  ~Michal Vandenberg - Third Grade, Lake Center
Thank you, Michal for sharing your MACUL take aways.  I love the enthusiasm you are bringing back to your third graders, and look forward to watching your Genius Hour and BreakoutEDU sessions evolve.

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