Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Great Day of Learning at the 2015 MACUL Technology Conference (SOL Day 22)

Today's Slice is a reflection on my experience at the MACUL Technology Conference  in Detroit, Michigan.  MACUL is an acronym for Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning.  MACUL brings educators of all levels together to share their learning.  I attended the conference on Thursday and wrote a slice about how it was one of the best parts of my day.  Some of my fellow Slicers wanted to know what my biggest take-away was and if there were any cool ideas I could share.  Thanks to their questions,  I thought it would be a good idea to write a reflection on my conference experience.

This was a three day conference which started on Wednesday, however, I was only able to attend on Friday.  The most difficult thing about the day was deciding which sessions to attend.  I downloaded the conference app a few days before the conference and I bookmarked way more sessions than i could possibly attend.  My thinking was, if a session was full then I would have a back-up and if a session turned out not to be what I expected, I could leave it and head to another presentation.

The first session I attended was, Creating Next Generation Classrooms:  Innovative and Personalized Learning Through Technology Infusion.  Saline Area Schools' teachers and administrators shared how they redesigned learning to provide a personalized curriculum and 21st century experiences for their k-5 students.  With this approach the classrooms are called learning labs.  In these learning labs everything is happening at once.  In this environment, lessons are flipped and teachers act as facilitators/coaches.  This approach fosters collaboration and critical thinking and learning experiences that are project-based and real-world.

The second session I attended was, Inspire Innovation By Fostering Collaboration and Creativity.  This was presented by Drew and Brad from Two Guys and Some iPads.  I loved this quote from Brad, "Our job is to teach kids to love to learn."  Here are some of the cool tech tools that these two guys shared:

  • Pixel Press Floors: Draw Your Own Video Game - This is an app that uses symbols for secret messages.  It allows you to draw levels on a sketch sheet, capture it on a device, edit from the app, then design and publish it to the arcade.
  • Canva - This app allows you to create a graphic design like a pro.
  • Tinker Cad - Use this site to build 3D models.  Students create and publish for the world.  A very cool feature is that these models can be downloaded into Minecraft.
  • Structure Sensor - Is a 3D sensor that plugs into a device and allows you to scan people and objects and send them across the world.  You have the ability to pull your world into a digital form.
My third session was, Think Like a Teacherpreneur.  This session was all about making the most of the educator business world.  Marketing you materials on Teachers Pay Teachers, writing and publishing ebooks, and using social media through Twitter and Blogging.  In one word "Branding".  The biggest take-away for me was the emphasis on asking questions.  If someone is doing something that you would like to do, ask them how they did it.  That's a no brainer, right?

The last session I attended was, Coding…It's Elementary.  The presenters shared how they are introducing students to coding across their district.  There's a shortage of coders and the tech tools are free at sites like  These are student driven projects.  I loved the idea of their "Code and Tell" sessions where their students present and give feedback to their peers.  I can't wait to introduce coding to my students.  

The highlight of the day was meeting three of my Twitter friends face-to-face and for the very first time.  I feel like I've known these ladies forever, but we had never met in person until that day.  I first caught up with Shannon (@ShannonDescamps) and Amy (@allaidlaw) and later I caught up with Kristi (@KristiZoerhof).  I chat with these ladies every Sunday night during #1stchat and it was so amazing to be able to see them in person.  

Amy, me, and Shannon

Me and Kristi

The closing Keynote was delivered by Two Guys and an iPad.  I mentioned their presentation in my second session above.  You can also follow Brad (@Techbradwaid) and Drew (@TechMinoc) and @2GuyShow on Twitter.  They gave an amazing and motivating talk to a ballroom full of educators.  They shared The YOU MATTER MANIFESTO which you can read more about here.  My favorite quote of the day from their presentation was, "Michigan has some of the best educators around."  "Many people ask us, what's in the water up there?"  I have to agree.  Michigan teachers rock!


  1. So interesting! I have been in a tech position in our district and also taught technology to teachers at the college level at the beginning of technology in education. So much more today. I'm going to bookmark your post today and revisit when I have time to really explore Thanks for this! D :)

    1. Tech is constantly changing and I'm happy that I was able to attend this conference and gather more ideas to use in my classroom.

  2. Truly, fascinating! Clearly, computers/technology will be increasingly part of our classrooms - so great that there is some real thought going into it. I want to know more about the project work done K-5 via computers (your first session)...are there other materials/hands-on, in addition to computers? Totally believe teachers should be 'guides on the side', letting students run with great learning experiences. Thank you for this insightful post!

  3. So much to learn but I also noticed how you were so thrilled to meet Twitter friends. That was one of the best parts of my NCTE experience in the fall. I host a weekly Digital Literacy link up. Consider joining us.

  4. So much to learn but I also noticed how you were so thrilled to meet Twitter friends. That was one of the best parts of my NCTE experience in the fall. I host a weekly Digital Literacy link up. Consider joining us.

  5. Thank you Val for sharing your experience at MACUL! Perhaps next year I will be able to attend the conference! P.S. Saline is my hometown!