Written By CUE Member Lisa Nowakowski @NowaTechie
Trying to get all my thoughts, feelings, and experiences of CUE 14, in one blog post has been a challenge. How can I possibly sum up: the friends I made, the friends I caught up with, the ideas that inspired me, the conversations I had? How can I possibly capture the awesomeness that was #CUE14 at the Annual CUE Conference this year? I’m not sure I can, but I will do my best.
To say that it was a whirlwind of an event is an understatement. Not only was I surrounded by 5,350 amazing educators, but I was also energized by the presenters, attendees, and keynote speakers – Dan Meyer, LeVar Burton, and Sal Kahn. I was busy from morning to night. I attended as many sessions as I could. When I wasn’t being inspired in sessions, I was at the street fair taking photos for the Unofficial #CUE14photowalk (Twitter and Instagram), attending gatherings sponsored by vendors (who knew they did that? Found out via Twitter), and just connecting with others in the hallways.
One of my biggest ‘Ah-Ha Moments’ came on my first day. I was in an Infographic Session with Renae Jaeger. She suggested that instead of having students write reports instead have them create Infographics to report on their learning. That led me to think about my 5th graders who will be doing State Reports. How cool would it be for them to present their information in this manner? Later when I was sharing this thought with a friend, in a hallway conversation, he suggested using Thinglink. That led me to think, ‘Why give them only one tool to use, why not let the students choose how they want to present their knowledge?’ This is the type of inspiration that comes from attending Annual CUE Conference this year. I LOVE the energy and ideas that come from attending these events.
This year I was fortunate enough to not only be inspired by all the amazing presenters, but I had the opportunity to inspire others by being a presenter myself. At first, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be inspiring, but all those who attended my session made me feel at ease and welcomed. And, in addition, a participant even inspired me…in my own session!! How cool is that?
The reason I look forward to Annual CUE Conference are the many connections. It’s the personal connections that I make, that make me a better teacher. For me, CUE isn’t just an organization that holds events several times a year, it’s an organization that embraces everyone. It’s one that helps everyone to grow and become better versions of themselves. Everyone that I encounter has only wanted to help me. I can’t begin to recollect the conversations I’ve had with others that have contained the phrases, “Do you know…?” and “This is…!” For a shy person, like myself (yes, I really am shy), it really helps to be introduced to so many. It helps to know that everyone in the CUE community wants to genuinely help and celebrate each others’ successes.
It is also fun to finally meet, and reconnect, with Twitter friends face to face. This year it began even before I checked into my hotel on Wednesday evening. Nancy Minicozzi happened to be in the lobby. At first, we looked at each other with that, ‘I think that’s you?!’ look, but neither of us said anything. As I was checking in and giving the front desk my name, Nancy came over to me. We hugged, laughed, and briefly caught up.
I wasn’t always so connected. I have attended the Annual CUE Conference since 2012. That first year, I arrived with five others from my district. That was my PLN. I hadn’t yet grown my PLN beyond our district. So what happened to cause my PLN to grow? CUE and Fresno Pacific’s Innovative Educator Advanced Studies Certificate is what happened. The program opened my eyes to the power of Twitter, Google+, and other social media. I began to explore Twitter chats and Google+ Communities. I was inspired to become more active in my local CUE affiliate. I created virtual friendships, which became stronger face to face friendships. By putting myself out there, I slowly grew my PLN.
I am blessed to have found the CUE community. I’m not sure where I would be without everyone. I am amazed and inspired by my ever growing PLN. I can’t wait to attend Fall CUE and the CUE 2015 Conference!
Lisa is a Google Certified Teacher and Google Apps for Education Trainer. She was in the first cohort for Innovative Educators Advanced Studies Certificate and a Leading Edge Certified educator. Lisa currently teaches 5th grade in South Monterey County.