Conference season is upon us and our i2e Professional Learning Specialists have been out in force attending, presenting, and bringing back valuable insights to share with the rest of our team. We didn’t want to keep this great information all to ourselves, so we are excited to be sharing it with all of you in a multi-part blog series. This week we are highlighting the Computer Using Educators (CUE) National Conference in Palm Springs, California!

Kim James, i2e Professional Learning Specialist:

“The CUE (Computer Using Educators) National Conference is held every March in Palm Springs, California. I live just 90 minutes away but have attended CUE just four times in my career. For many years my public school district did not budget to send classroom teachers to conferences, and I did not have the personal time or money to make attending a reality.

When I did begin attending five years ago, it was a crowded but exhilarating event. The sessions inspired my classroom practices, the vendors stirred my imagination and motivated me to build my repertoire of apps and hard goods, and the people I met—at dinner, in presentations, attending the keynotes—became the voices in my head as I drove home and planned for the upcoming weeks.

I am now a Technology Training Specialist for the same mid-sized, public school district. My department hosts a Techsploration Committee of about 55 volunteer members—men and women, administrators, and classroom teachers—all interested in integrating ed tech and building capacity at their campuses. We sent 30 of these Techsplorers to CUE this year and THAT fact, and the enthusiasm of that team of educators, is what is most memorable for me about CUE 2019.

We initiated a GroupMe chat titled “Chino Valley CUE Crew,” established a shared folder for materials, recommended OneNote for personal note curation, and one of our members made team shirts. I felt like a mama bird, ready to watch the little ones take flight! We thought we were ready for anything, but I don’t think we were ready at all. Our CUE Crew hit the ground running at 11:00 am on Thursday, March 14th. Our CUE Crew found something to interest each and every one of us in a huge variety of sessions. Angela went nuts over the Wipebooks (@Wipebook) being used in a session. Keane is already planning on having his Japanese 3 students podcast with Anchor. Prior to the conference, Charlie had never heard of Design Thinking, but now can’t stop talking about it. Carri attended “Math Rocks” and is committed to using the strategies she learned with her primary students.

The CUE Crew did not need to be led or mentored; they planned on their own, sometimes using a “divide and conquer” strategy when there were too many “good” sessions at the same time. They saved and shared’s and Sways and Google files and PowerPoints. When Joseph found free laptop covers in the vendor hall, he posted it and soon a dozen CUE Crew members had the same. When Amanda posted that there was a free ice cream truck pulled up near the grass, CUE Crew members left the opening keynote early to grab a cold one! They recommended the PBL session, the Google Tour session, and Formative Assessment sessions. Angela reposted about Wipebooks, of course. Lauren infected everyone with Pear Deck love. Lisa will be using augmented reality in her class soon, and Ashley is not assigning homework anymore. Jena encouraged everyone to check out Teachers Give Teachers. For her libraries, Dorinda purchased a Qball and got a free MERGE Cube. Brian is intrigued by Raspberry Pi.  Sandy picked up a Flipgrid avocado. Angela sent out a discount code for Wipebooks. And of course, we all learned about EduProtocols.

These hard-working educators also worked on building their Professional Learning Networks (PLNs). Most attended the  Inland Area CUE (IACUE) Affiliate Meeting where they started or continued relationships with influencers from the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) and San Bernardino County Office of Education (SBCOE). They mixed and mingled and made memories at karaoke and keynotes.

What is most exciting, besides their enthusiasm and independence, is that in three weeks our district will host an event called “CUEBits,” which will be recorded and sent out to all district educators. During CUEBits, each Techsplorer will have two minutes and three slides to express the one thing that most inspired him or her at CUE. This is the third year we will be hosting such a debriefing, and the value of these 60 minutes is immeasurable. Their excitement is still bubbling, and they are each seen as the local expert in their topic.

My hope is that there will be fresh faces in Techsploration next year and another opportunity to send novice conference attenders. There is nothing like an ed tech conference to open a newbie’s eyes to possibilities, products, and PLNs.”

Learn more about Computer Using Educators.