Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Learning Together at #MACUL16: The World is Our Classrooms

There are certain learning opportunities that, as an ed-tech educator, I look forward to each year.  The MACUL Conference is one of those.  I love learning new instructional techniques, tools, and tips that I can use with my students and pass on to my fellow teachers here at PPS.  I love the energy of the conference and the way I come back rejuvinated and ready to race to the end of the school year.  This year the MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) Conference took place March 9-11th in Grand Rapids.  Portage was able to bring around 50 excited educators and administrators to the conference this year.  We also had numerous staff members who presented at the conference on topics that ranged from Modern Media Centers to Blended Learning.  I had so many "proud parent" moments watching our teachers and students present, share, collaborate, network, and learn together.  I feel very blessed to work with such an amazing group of educators.

As a way to reach out to those who were not able to come with us to the conference this year, our participants have volunteered to be guest bloggers and share their experiences.  Our first guest blogger is Maria White.  She is a fifth grade teacher at Lake Center and is just beginning to explore the role technology can play in her classroom.  I hope you enjoy learning from her as much as I did!
"The MACUL conference was appropriately titled Engage Learning.  This conference highlighted for me how both students and teachers can be more engaged in learning through the use of technology.  The opening keynote speaker was forward thinking and inspiring.  He inspired us to think of our students and the jobs they will hold.  His main message was that we need to make them efficient and innovative problem solvers.  His message was followed up with the Keynote speaker the second morning who challenged us to drop the negative stigma surrounding social media and instead think of it as a way to help reach our students and connect them more globally with the world.  Every session of this conference provided another way to make teaching and learning a far more active process than so many of us are used to using.  Whether you try Google Classroom for the first time, add a genius hour to your week, or make a makerspace; the idea is to try it.  See where it takes you and your students.  Our classrooms now reach beyond our building, city, state, or country.  The world is literally our classroom if we learn to use it.  That one student you just don’t think you can inspire is only waiting for you to discover the thing in the world that makes him/her want to be a problem solver." ~Maria White
Thank you, Maria!  I look forward to watching you inspire your students to take on the world and be the best they can be!

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