Monday, October 16, 2017

Getting My Mojo Back with #SGVCUE

Last week, I talked extensively about how in recent months I was starting to have doubts about whether or not to continue in education.  However, my motivation had been sparked recently by getting back to my roots, exchanging ideas and learning with like-minded educators.  That motivation was further along this past weekend during the SGVCUE Innovation Celebration at Bassett High School in La Puente, CA.  I was graciously invited to attend by Tom Covington and Michael Jephcott, two members of SGVCUE and educators from Bassett Union School District.  I was one of over 700 educators that took time out of their weekend to learn about new technology that can change the classroom, network, and make new friends.  When asked what I thought of the conference, my response was, "It was definitely worth the four-hour drive from Las Vegas!"  

You know it's probably time to go when people
dressed up as a fox show up to the pub!  
The weekend started with the four-hour drive to the Greater Los Angeles area.  I stopped to get gas in Primm, NV, which lies on the border of Nevada and California and learned never to do that again, as Primm is one of the few stops for gas between Las Vegas and Barstow, the price was nearly $4.00 a gallon (had I got gas in Las Vegas, it would have been about $2.50 a gallon), so my advice to you, make sure you have gas so you don't have to stop in Primm (or Baker, about 50 miles later, they gouge you on gas prices there as well).  Because I was going toward LA, and not toward Las Vegas, traffic was very good.  I cannot say the same for the northbound lanes of I-15, as the typical excursions to Las Vegas of thousands of Southern Californians were well underway as I passed through Barstow, Victorville, and then eventually the Inland Empire.  I checked into my hotel and met up with Michael Jephcott, Jose Balvanera, and April Buege for dinner and conversation, learning how incredible a pizza with sauce, cheese, pastrami, pickles, and mustard can be (Innovation Brew Works in Pomona if you are intrigued!).

Ann does bear a striking resemblance to Melissa McCarthy...
Saturday morning started with a phenomenal keynote speech from Ann Kozma, a brilliant educator from Fullerton, CA.  The theme of her keynote was "diamond time."  Diamond time was explained as something that is where one is at their best, whether it is professional, socially, mentally, etc.  Ann explained her diamond time as some of the sights that she saw on an Alaska cruise, but also interacting and learning with people all over the country, either in person or through social media.  She also explained that in the wake of so many terrible things that have happened lately, from the Mexican earthquake, the shooting in Las Vegas, and the California wildfires, it even more important to find that diamond time and find that positive light in one's life.  Ann created a Flipgrid that solicited people's responses to what their "diamond time" is, you can submit your own response by going to and using the code "diamondtime".

While working with WeVideo during the session, I came across this deal that
extends a pretty sweet deal until Halloween.  
For my first session, I chose to go to a presentation on WeVideo.  I had heard of WeVideo before and had even toyed around with it some, but I really wanted to take a deep dive into the program.  If you haven't heard of it, WeVideo is a web-based video editing and creation program that has a lot of the same functions as Apple's iMovie.  What is great about WeVideo is that it is not exclusive to Apple like iMovie is; you can use WeVideo on just about any device that can connect to the Internet, including Chromebooks and Apple devices!  The kicker, however, is that it is a premium service.  There is a free version, but you are limited in what you can do using the free version (only 5 minutes of video per month, a large WeVideo watermark on videos, and limited editing abilities).  Premium versions include the Power account, which extends to 30 minutes a month, no watermark, and premium editing functions.  The Unlimited plan gives you unlimited video and even more premium features.  The presenter gave each attendee a "dummy" account with some preloaded items to toy around with.  What I learned is not only was I able to use my Chromebook and my iPad with WeVideo, I found it easier to use than iMovie, especially when it came to uploading video clips, audio tracks, images, etc.

I decided that for the next session, I finally had to figure out the hype behind Flipgrid.  I had used it before in responding to others' grids, but I hadn't created an account and really looked at the features extensively.  I must say, I completely understand why everybody is so excited about it and has caught the #FlipgridFever.  Lucretia Anton was the presenter, somebody that I have followed on Twitter for a while, and she recognized me as I walked in the door, which totally took me by surprise (this is one of those "diamond time" moments, by the way, when you meet some of your Twitter friends IRL, or in real life).  Lucretia showed several ways that it can be used in the classroom, how to customize a grid and topic, and even shared a promo code that let you try out the premium version for free for 45 days.  If you are interested, go to and create your account, or if you already have an account, go into your account settings and use LUCRETIA as a promo code to redeem.  The session inspired me to create my first Flipgrid topic, so I created one asking the attendees of #SGVCUE what they learned over the weekend and what they could take back to their classroom.  If you would like to view responses or create a response of your own, please check it out below.

After a lunch of visiting with David Platt and checking out Tom Covington and Michael Jephcott's "dog pound at the BIC" (listen to their podcast, TOSAs Talking Tech, you'll get the reference then...), I decided to go to a session on Coding Across the Curriculum.  Unfortunately, the session was not what I expected.  The presenter had a wealth of information on coding, why it is important for students to code, and showed attendees how to dabble into coding with Scratch, I did not get anything on how to incorporate coding into my curriculum.  As a former social studies teacher and one hoping to get back into social studies in the near future, I have never been able to jump onto the coding bandwagon because I don't know how I can apply it.  While the Scratch program had some different things that you could do in the program to create games, mazes, and other neat things, I still am struggling to figure out how I can apply coding to, for example, United States History.  If you are a social studies teacher that is using coding in your classroom, please, by all means, share your awesomeness with me, I am completely stuck at this point!  

Heidi, Anita and I are a long day of learning, and if you look closely,
Jon Corippo was there in spirit!
The weekend was a resounding success, I learned a lot of things that I can apply to my teaching practice, and as a board member for CUE-NV, Heidi Carr, Anita Thompson and I were able to glean some ideas from SGVCUE's event that we can apply to our events.  I had a great time debriefing afterward with many of SGVCUE's board members, then headed over to Santa Clarita to meet a friend from high school that I hadn't seen in five years.  What originally had been planned to be dinner and a drive home turned into dinner and crashing on his couch to head home on Sunday.  I look forward to seeing events by other affiliates in the near future and continue to motivate myself through learning.  

Until next time... 

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