We found out we made it and well, we were completely shocked. Elated. Giddy. Terrified. Yup, but it was so far away we could relish in the idea of it without being overwhelmed by the stress of what it meant. I don't know how it happens but it seems that the Spring semester just vanishes. Poof. There I am in June. Kids long gone from the classroom and I am sitting in a sweaty hot building with three day old hair in a pony, wondering when the last time I showered and trying to figure out a way to stay true to our description while showing our elite audience something new and innovative.
The presentation that we had given in our own district was not the one we ended up taking with us. For that matter, the presentation that we brought up with us was not the one we gave two days later. We shed blood, sweat and tears dumped and organized in that presentation. Through the process we learned three keys to win over an audience.
We were obsessed with giving them as much as we could. We created hyperlinked e-handouts for them to look at and refer to later if they wanted. We were constantly, obsessively, adding to it and fixing it for them to use.
Our session was about authentic learning and how to assess it. We worried it sounded a bit general so we made sure to include tons of examples of how authentic learning looked in our classroom and how we assessed it. We included student made videos, and pictures of projects.
Our session was an hour. Not very long at all but we still had to give time for processing chats. We struggled with how we wanted to facilitate conversations in a crowd where everyone could have a voice. We settled on strategic tweet outs that answered questions. The tweets were a fine starting place but looking back we needed more. More of them really talking to each other in some way or another. The tweets were great but the conversations after the session would have been so much more powerful if they had occurred during instead and everyone could have been there to hear and take part.
Our session was about authentic learning. They should have been looking at a problem they were having and deciding on a authentic conclusion. We ran out of time. Looking back this was a huge misstep for us. We were super fortunate, the group was patient understanding. They forgave us for this. If we had it to do again I would have cut the amount of student examples and research and given them a chunk of time...at least twenty minutes to sit and create, practicing what we were talking about. They had the e-handout to refer back to they needed to get their hands dirty.
I think the main reason we didn't lose most of them was our passion and excitement for what we were talking about- that goes a long way. Plus, let's be honest we are pretty adorable especially when we are hyperventilating and waving our arms around like crazy people.
Over all it was a great experience. That is the best part about throwing yourself in the deep end you sink or swim. We swam...it was ugly and way too much splashing around but we made it and are even planning on doing it again next year...if they let us.