Monday, June 16, 2014

Fueling Your Passion with UTC and PLNs!

Greenville, SC…I'm HOME!  After a short stint in Tennessee, I'm back home in Greenville.  I'm looking forward to another year working with an amazing system and fabulous colleagues!

One of the perks of living in the Greenville area again is the opportunity to attend an amazing technology conference, Upstate Technology Conference.  I've been attending since the very first year and EVERY time I walk away with something I can use immediately in my classroom or in my professional life.  This conference helps to reignite my excitement over technology that may have become lost through the day to day life of teaching. This year was no exception.

In April, registration opened.  I set my alarm clock for a 5:30 AM call so I could be ready for the 6 AM open.  This conference fills up fast and I wanted to make sure I had a spot, even if I wasn't able to attend.  I could always cancel.  At 6:00 AM, there were already 300 spots taken.  This year, I didn't present because I was unsure of my attendance, so it was a little different sitting back and having nothing to prepare.

I attended sessions Wednesday on Evernote, Nearpod in the Classroom, and Google the first day.  All 3 of these sessions were presented by members of my PLN.  Thursday brought with it new sessions on Edmodo, Smores, Thinglink, Kahoot, and iPad University.  My hope is to blog about each new tool this summer for my usual Tech Tuesday series.

The thing I enjoy most about the conference though is not necessarily the sessions, I can learn about those things on my own, but it is truly the meeting new like-minded friends to add to my network and reconnecting with others who I haven't seen in quite some time.

Two summers ago, I taught a workshop on iPads and met @cbeyerle and @TalesFrmTeacher.  We connected over technology and have kept in touch through Twitter and Facebook consistently.  It was great to see them again and to support their sessions.

This year I added to my PLN (Personal Learning Network) and was actually able to meet them face to face at UTC.  @Kitty_Tripp, @GChamplinAP, and I had our first face to face encounter this year even though we have followed each other on Twitter for quite some time.  The best thing about seeing all of these "friends" is that we were able to connect immediately!  As a matter of fact, I attended a session that Kitty taught in Greenwood today based on our interaction.

Source: Tales from a 4th/5th Grade Teacher

This group of educators from across SC help me to sharpen my saw on a daily basis.  Having a group of people that I can bounce ideas off of, through a tweet out for feedback, and seek support when I'm stuck is the most valuable resource I have in my classroom.  They help me keep my eyes on what is important and consistently help ignite my passion for technology in the classroom.  Thank you guys!

If I had a piece of advice for anyone in the education field, it would be to surround yourself with amazing people that you can learn from on a regular basis.  My PLN is truly the secret to my success!



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