Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 41st Annual Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning Conference held at Cobo Hall in Downtown Detroit. The conference has been a staple of my professional development since I entered the teaching profession. It is the conference that re-energizes, sparks, and guides me through the “Ides of March” each year. This year’s version was no different.
For the first time, I was able to participate in the Pre-Conference Sessions on Wednesday. I lead a workshop on using Chromebooks in the K-8 classroom. With about 20 dedicated teaching professionals, we worked through how to use the Chromebooks and how to connect Google Suite and our students’ learning opportunities. One of the things that I shared was the ever-growing list of activities and resources for the classroom.
Thursday morning, the conference got off to an amazing start with Sir Ken Robinson providing the opening keynote on being the change in the education system. As educators, we are at the forefront of the school experience, and Sir Ken Robinson reminded us of that in our keynote. Some things are constant: students wish to learn, teachers want to teach. Sir Ken Robinson advocated that we start to change the way that our teaching and learning look. Sir Ken Robinson has been a fantastic advocate for change. Below, you can view one of his famous Ted Talks on educational innovation. Thursday continued with a variety of sessions on everything under the sun regarding educational technology, including Universal Design for Learning, accessibility, and making use of solid pedagogy when integrating technology.
Friday morning kicked off with another great keynote before emptying into a session on 1:1 support systems that support a staff of over 1000 people. Then, I went to great session on using data for action in the classroom. This session made a great point, we have so many ways to collect the data, whether through formative assessment, surveys, etc., but as educators, we need to start using it better. I then went to a session about Universal Design for Learning and Design Thinking in our classrooms. Finally, the closing keynote from Jennie Magiera was fantastic.
Ms. Magiera completed the circle of the conference, referencing Sir Ken Robinson’s opening keynote and encouraged teachers to take risks and embrace failure. While there is a need to be a perfectionist, no one is capable of being perfect all of the time. As teachers, we can embrace and model learning from things that don’t work. As teachers, we need to take the risks that help improve student learning. We need to be the change we wish to see in our educational system.
Overall, #MACUL17 was one of the best versions of MACUL that I have been to. It was a fantastic conference with incredible sessions, learning, and networking. MACUL knocked this year’s annual conference out of the park!