#DENSI2014 Did that just happen?

I returned from #DENSI2014 in Nashville Friday night after a day full of driving in the rain. Not my favorite way to drive but none the less, it was time to get home. Prior to arriving at #DENSI2014 I was a little fearful of my aversion to large groups, close quarters, 6 women sharing 1 shower, and having to be “on” all the time. Yes, I am an introvert but an introvert that can drip her toes in to the extrovert world at times. I kept telling myself it would be fine.

When I officially checked in to the Carmichael dorm I was all ready overwhelmed with all of the people and the noise. People were hugging, laughing, and greeting one another. I unloaded my car at the stairs by the door and then parked. When I came back to the door Mark Case, whom I had never met was all ready lifting my heavy luggage up the stairs to the dorm. At that moment I thought, it’s going to be ok.


DENnis Grice, Dave Tchozewski, and David Fisher

Throughout the week I was exposed to some amazing sessions planned and unplanned. My favorite keynote was Lodge McCammon. He never ceases to amaze me. I really enjoyed Conni Mulligan‘s session on creating shadow puppets with old overhead projectors. It gave me so many ideas for not only work but play. Tim Childers session on teaching with one image resinated the word focus for me. I managed to make it to #SitDen (AKA meet at Starbucks and chat at 6am while others were exercising at #FitDEN) a few times. I learned there too. Kathy Schrock showed me explee.com. It’s a cool image animator.

As the week progressed, I decided to let a little of myself show. I brought my photo booth mustaches and started taking photos of people using them. I would walk up to people and say,  “I ‘must-ache’ you a question, may I take your picture?” It was a great way to just talk to people I didn’t know for a moment.  This led to “my thing” at DEN. Someone suggested I do something for WDEN our morning news show. When I was looking at the photos later that night I thought…BAZINGA! I will interview people and they will have to answer with the mustache! This was great for my introverted self. I would meet even more people because I was working on a project. So I spent Wednesday interviewing people in between sessions and editing video. I submitted my video to WDEN and they played it Thursday morning. Here is a little look if you want to watch it. I have more footage and plan on creating a few more episodes. Hopefully time will not get away from me.

Being an introvert, another worry of mine was finding time to recharge in silence. I was worried I wouldn’t ever be alone. Not that I wanted to be antisocial… I just need to recharge. I probably missed out on a few fun things but I did find some quiet space on the patio outside the dorm. It was a great place to sit feel the cool breeze.

I would like to thank the DEN for letting me be me all week. I was able to learn the way I liked to learn. I wasn’t pressured to be part of the crowd. I was given space when I needed it.  The conversations I had were amazing and I met some wonderful people. The conversations were invigorating. The DEN Love was palpable. My twitter and Facebook feeds are filled with their knowledge and friendship. Thank you, so much for this experience.

After the week, I have to admit seeing this post on twitter made me feel a little better about my introverted-ness. It reminded me we are everywhere!


Oh, and by the way, if #DENSI2015 will have me back… watch out, I’ll be out of my shell. 🙂




Are large conferences needed anymore?

This blog post is a not only a response to Tim Childers New World Order and  I Can Relate but a continuation of a conversation I have had a few times in the last couple of days.

In the last 3 weeks I have been all over the place. I am part of the SC Midlands Summit Planning team. We kicked off June with 600+ educators attending a two-day conference. It was a great two days. The feedback was awesome and reminds us why we do the conference every year. Then I attended the Summer of Summit by Summit Schools in Redwood City, CA. Again another small conference with about 150 attendees. This week I attended #ISTE2014 in Atlanta, GA with 15,000 people in a massive conference center.

It was my 12th ISTE conference so I know the drill. I expect all the crowds and know that many sessions are going to be full. But yet, every year I hope for the best. I hope that it will be different. Sure, there are lots of alternative ways to learn at the conference like the playground, poster sessions, bloggers cafe, or just conversation. But I guess my question is, is it worth it to spend all that money for conversations in the hall? Technology makes connecting to people SO easy to meet and talk with people do we need large conferences to make that personal/human connection? By no means am I saying ISTE is a bad thing. ISTE is great for those new to the profession looking to receive a massive amount of information. I just wonder for me if a full registration is really what I need since I end up frustrated that I can’t get in to the sessions I want to attend.

Let me take a moment to go over my take aways…

The Surprise
Only device I needed was my iPhone. I have never attended a conference before without bringing a laptop of some kind. I had my Chromebook in my backpack for two days and decided to leave it in the hotel on day 3 since I hadn’t taken it out.

The Great
It’s always great to network and meet new people doing things you wish you could or taking the journey down the road you just travelled. I was able to meet a number of people who I will be spending time with at DENSI in a little over a week so that was great.

Seeing Jessica Donaldson and Tim Childers. These two people get me. It’s always awesome to spend time with either one but this year, I was able to see them both.


This ISTE was the first for one of my cousins. It was great seeing the conference through his eyes. Welcome to the ISTE Club, Joe!


Kevin Carroll and the red ball was amazing! His story is an inspiration and made me think about my own passions and how to keep moving forward with them. My favorite remark of the keynote was “If your dreams don’t scare you, you aren’t reaching high enough.” It gave me something to think about.

Poster sessions, as always, never fail. It’s a great opportunity to talk with people  who have worked on specific projects.

The Lack Luster
As I mentioned before the full sessions. I don’t understand why I have to get to a session 30 minutes early to get a spot in line to get a seat. It defeats the purpose of attending any sessions. I know there are many people think it’s so yesterday to attend sessions but my district was gracious enough to pay for my registration, the least I can do is attend sessions. 😉

The sheer size of the conference center was daunting. I didn’t arrive to the conference until Sunday morning so it took my a good bit of Sunday to get the layout. Of course this is something that is necessary due to the amount of attendees.

The noise. This might be one of those times you respond,’What?’ But for me ISTE is overstimulation and noise on so many levels that an introvert like me is freaking out on the inside. I end up having what I call a bit of ADD. I can’t focus on anything because I am worried I won’t make it in to my next session. I have been around people all day and there has been NO silence. I have to be fun and perky at the after parties. I can go on and on. Being an introvert requires some peace and it is hard to find at large conferences.

So this leads me back to with technology connecting with others is so easy. Do we need a large venue and conference like this? Why do we as educators have to have a venue like a 15,000+ attendee conference to make these connections? I have thought about this and I do not want to have to wait to attend an annual conference to talk to people. And when I say talk to people, I mean learn who they are and how we can help one another. Not just a flash by conference conversation about how great you are or what blog you are writing for, or who you just talked with. (Not that this type of conversation happens, ever)I am going to make  commitment to talking more to my conference buddies via Hangouts or Facetime. Who knows what could happen if we talk and collaborate more often the sky is the limit.

Where does this leave me? Conflicted and invigorated all at the same time. I would love to continue this conversation if you have any input.




I {heart} the Richland Two’s SC Midlands Summit

The last two days have been a culmination of almost a year of planning. The team I work on hosted the 3rd annual Richland Two’s SC Midlands Summit with over 600 participants from 9 states and 31 school districts. What an amazing experience! The summit was filled with over 130 sessions and 3 amazing keynotes from Steve Dembo, Leslie Fisher, and Catlin Tucker.

Planning this Summit is a LOT of work but every year, after it is over, and I am so tired all I can do is smile. Why do I smile? Because every ounce of the work is worth it to see how excited teachers are about learning and integrating. These are the same teachers that one week ago were exhausted from a long school year. Being on the planning committee allows me to share my passion for technology and it warms my heart to see so many so excited.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of those who attended. You reminded me of the reason I do what I do every day.

ISTE and EduBloggerCon

I made it to Denver and I am SO excited to be here. ISTE has always been a place for me to be inspired and I am ready for inspiration! I didn’t arrive in downtown Denver until about 6pm tonight and with time change I didn’t do much but I did manage to get out and about with Chris Craft on 16th St. for dinner. I must say it is BEAUTIFUL and there is a lot to do in the area.

Tomorrow I am attending EdubloggerCon. I have wanted to attend for a few years but my travel plans never seemed to work out. I am so happy this year did. If you haven’t heard of EdubloggerCon it’s:

Now in its fourth year, this all-day unconference gathering for those interested in social media / Web 2.0 in education takes place the Saturday (June 26, 2010) before the official ISTE 2010 start. Honestly, this is a great event, and many will tell you it is the event to attend at ISTE because it’s all about connecting and sharing. EduBloggerCon is based on the idea of an “unconference”, and is being organized by the participants in real time on-site. It’s maybe better referred to as a “collaborative conference.” There are no formal presentations, just “conversations” that you or others facilitate. To lead a session, it is not expected that you prepare material but that you have a topic you want to open to discussion. –EdubloggerCon

I am hoping I have something to contribute but I will most likely be a fly on the wall tomorrow just listening and learning. 🙂

So this week I hope to accomplish the following:

1. Get inspired.

2. Absorb as much as I can from members of my PLN

3. Take this opportunity to make the connection back to the schools and classrooms. A lot of times when we come to conferences we get excited and when we get home it may not be as easy to do what we learned. I want to get excited and put what I learned in to action. If I need to advocate for change then I will be that advocate.

Looking for inspiration….

I am at SC EdTech in Myrtle Beach, SC this week. If you read my last post you know I am a little discouraged with technology integration or my lack of passion so I am hoping that being at this conference will inspire me. Am I expecting to sit in a session and see the light to eternal ed tech happiness? No, but I want to leave here feeling like I CAN do something new or WANT to do something new. So I am holding this conference up to high standards this year.

More than anything… I am in need of serious face-to-face  Personal Learning Network. My PLN helps me through the tough times and I am so lucky to have them physically around me for the next two days.  This is where I will find my inspiration and I thank them all for being that inspiration when I need it the most.

SC EdTech fill me up because I am almost on empty!