Today I gave my first-ever professional presentation at a conference full of people I didn't know! I presented about SMARTboards at the Central Ohio Technology Summit. It was scary and exciting and rewarding. COTS is supposed to be a great place to present for the first time, and it really was! My husband will tell you that ever since I said I would be willing to present (back in the spring), I've gone from excited to nervous (WHY did I say that I would present) and back again. I was afraid nobody would come to my session, I was afraid that people who came would think I didn't do a good job, etc. etc. Now that it's over, I'm so glad I didn't listen to that "excuse voice" in my head, and I can't wait to do it again next year! I had an almost-full room in both sessions and people seemed to enjoy it and learn a lot! :-) As a young teacher, it was really rewarding to be able to share ideas with colleagues in a professional, positive setting!
My session was called "Putting the INTERACTIVE in your Interactive Whiteboard" and it was all about how to use simple techniques in SMART Notebook software like grouping, layering, animation, and the infinite cloner to create your own interactive activities. Everything I shared focused on creating activities that will have your students (instead of you) up interacting with your SMARTboard. (My schools mainly use SMARTboards but we also have Epson boards, Promethean boards, etc. I will use "SMARTboard" on my blog to mean kind of interactive whiteboard.) I love SMARTboards but I've noticed that many people use them as a fancy presentation gadget instead of a learning tool for students. To me, your SMARTboard should be a tool that your students use more than something for you to stand in front of. My students' best chance to learn with the SMARTboard is if they are manipulating things on it and I'm sitting in the back of the room watching them. If you want to see my presentation, you can download a PDF of it (and maybe also the real Notebook file if our district website ever decides it likes Notebook files!) on my teacher webpage -- go to the "For Teachers" section on the right-hand side of the page.
I also learned a lot from the sessions I attended at COTS and I have some new ideas to try out this year! This was my second year attending COTS and I've been very impressed with the quality of most of the sessions. It's a wonderful place where educators from a variety of districts come together to share ideas -- and it's free! This is the type of PD that gets me excited for the school year to start -- such a spirit of excitement and collaboration.
I'm so proud of myself for taking the plunge from observer to presenter! :-)