Sunday, February 8, 2015

TCEA15- Learning, Growing, Connecting

Last week I attended the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Annual Conference. As educators, we should model life-long learning and attending conferences is one way to do that. The week was full of learning & connecting, so much so that it would require a quite lengthy post to cover everything. Here are my major take-aways for the week:

Kristen Swanson, the founder of the Edcamp movement, started our first day with a reminder that "learning is fundamentally different in a connected world." When educators are connected, they can learn anywhere, from anyone, at anytime! It becomes personalized, which is exactly what we are striving for for our students. A big take-away was "when we change the learning for adults, they will change the learning for their students!" YES! This, as well as another session, helped me rethink the way I share information with teachers on our campus. 

The first day ended with a nice honor. I was recognized as a finalist for TCEA Library Media Specialist of the Year. There to support me were my biggest cheerleaders: Nancy Jo Lambert, Tina Berumen, Erin Griffith, and Racheal Rife! 

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to present with some pretty AMAZING people! The first presentation was with my principal, Racheal Rife, and friend/mentor, Erin Griffith. Racheal encourages and supports innovation on our campus and inspires me to rethink how I look at our education system. Erin Griffith, worked in our district last year, and was a huge reason we hosted our first Edcamp Parker County! We presented on Collaborative Learning Spaces and how to create these spaces on a budget, with limited space, AND with student involvement. We shared spaces we created with our students, and talked about the WHY. It was wonderful to hear others in the audience share about their spaces. Attendees added pictures and links to the presentation's Google Slides which we hope will be a resource for others. A highlight of this session was discovering that Carl Hooker had created sketchnotes of the session and shared them!

The sessions were back to back, so I ran to the next room to present #Makerspaces with my #TLBFF, Nancy Jo Lambert! This was the first time Nancy Jo and I had presented together, and it was a lot of fun! She is such an incredible librarian and so willing to share with others! 

Makerspaces are a great addition to a school, whether it be in a library, classroom, or another part of the building. They are also easy to personalize, and there is no right or wrong in makerspaces. The purpose is to create a space where students are able to collaborate & innovate! We shared some of the items that we have in our makerspaces.

There was a full house in this session, with many of them being librarians. This seems like a good indicator that librarians are ready to be key players in creating innovative spaces for their students!

At a conference of this size, another great part is being able to connect with friends and members of your PLN. There are many people who inspire me that I am only able to see face to face at conferences. There were also many new people that I added to my PLN during and after TCEA. 

There were many sessions and learning opportunities throughout the week, and the last session we attended was an inspiring way to end this conference. A new addition to my PLN, Matthew Arend, mentioned that George Couros was presenting on Thursday. My principal and I made it to his first session, Your Digital Footprint, at 8:00 AM. I honestly would have gone to all three of his sessions that day if I could have, he is that good! There are many great resources on his blog, which I will be checking regularly! He reinforced my belief that being a connected educator is important. 

By watching the hashtag #TCEA15Couros, you could see how everyone was connecting with Couros! In fact, I went back and read tweets from the other two sessions to see what I missed. Like this question:

Right away, I was able to implement some of what I learned in Couros's session with my 6th graders on Friday as we talked about our Digital Footprint. 

This slide was all over Twitter on Thursday and is such a good visual for what we should be aiming for:

So I take back to my campus great ideas to share and the reminder that the most important thing is still RELATIONSHIPS! Technology is a wonderful addition, but forming relationships with people, whether it be our students, the teachers on our campus, or connecting with members of our PLN in person, that is where we really make a difference. 


  1. Sounds like a great conference. It is amazing all that can be learned at conferences. One thing I want to know more about is Makerspaces. I would love to set one up in my library. This is my first year as an elementary media specialist and I hope to set up an area by the end of the year. I went to one conference and it was great, but there weren't any sessions on Makerspaces.

    Glad you were able to bring some ideas back to your library.

    1. Thank you Stephanie! I'm happy to help with any MakerSpace questions you might have! You can find me on Twitter @ShawnaFord1. There are quite a few librarians on Twitter who have makerspaces. Good luck!