Saturday, March 25, 2017

MACUL 2017

On March 16, I attended my first MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning) Conference. I only attended the one day but man...I left with my head and heart jam-packed with awesomeness.


First and foremost, the keynote speaker on Thursday was Sir Ken Robinson. Who doesn't love a man with a British accent?? Not only is he incredibly smart and has the right ideas about education, but he is also incredibly witty. I don't think I have laughed so hard so early in the morning ever. Not to mention the man got a standing ovation before he ever opened his mouth. The thousands of educators who flocked to Detroit for that conference knew that they were in the presence of greatness.

Two years ago, we read his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative for one of my doctoral classes and I was just blown away by how much I speak the same language in terms of how we "fix" education. As soon as I saw that he was the keynote, I knew I had to go, even if it was just for one day. My time was surely not wasted. This man knows that American public education is not going downhill...we have systems issues. Big ones. He also pointed out, however, that when we, as classroom teachers shut our doors and do what WE know is right, despite what we are being told to do, we ARE changing the system. I loved that. It is very true.

Incidentally, Sir Ken has a new book out called Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education which you can believe went immediately on my wish list. Pretty much everything that man says, I totally agree with.

If Sir Ken had been the only session I went to the entire day, it still would have been worth the 3 hours of travel and the money I spent to go. He was so inspiring and a great way to begin the day. Fortunately, he was not the only goodness I experienced.


I went to a session on BreakoutEdu next. I have to admit, I have heard many people speak about BreakoutEDU in my PLN on Voxer but I hadn't ever really paid that much attention. to be totally honest, I found myself thinking "what is the big deal with this breakout stuff?? It can't be all that they claim it is." Well, believe me, once I saw it happening, I was hooked and realized that I had been missing out by not paying more attention!

If you've been living under a rock, like I apparently was, and don't know already, BreakoutEDU is an interactive games platform that allows students to work in groups to solve a series of clues in order to open a locked box. Once all of the locks are unlocked, the students have "broken out" and achieved the mission. The presenter demonstrated for us by putting us into four groups and having us complete a Breakout session ourselves. I went to the Minecraft group because my own kids play it and I figured it wouldn't hurt me to get involved in what they care about. My group actually finished our breakout first (in about 15-16 minutes I believe) and it definitely required teamwork and the ability to listen to the ideas of everyone in the group.

The best part is, once you purchase a kit (or make your own, which is only about $20 cheaper to do), you can sign up on the website to get access to tons of games for free. The games are all standards based too which is even better. I love it for team building, cooperative learning and critical thinking because, at least in my group, you had to solve the puzzle to open the smaller box in order to get the materials needed to solve the last two puzzles. We would have never completed the challenge if we hadn't realized we needed what was in the smaller box to open the other locks.

It was great fun and I am definitely planning to purchase a kit of my own and try it out with my class. I think it would make a great Fun Friday team building activity. In the future, of course, I could absolutely see using some of the games in the games library to enhance curriculum by having students solve problems based upon a learning unit to complete the breakout.

'Appy Hour

I went to another session called 'Appy Hour where we learned about a bunch of different apps that are useful for teaching and learning. About half of them I had already heard of (such as Remind and SeeSaw) but there were some other ones I learned about that I hadn't ever heard of. The best part of this session was that they shared the presentation with us so that we were able to follow along and click on the links to the various apps so we can try them out on our own.

I am definitely going to give EdPuzzle a try. I think it will be super helpful and engaging for the kiddos as review for concepts they are struggling with.


The last session I attended was on HyperDocs. Holy cow. I have been missing out on this goodness! I had heard someone speak about them in my PLN awhile ago but didn't know what they were. This session definitely gave me a lot of food for thought.

Basically, HyperDocs are Google docs that are embedded with hyperlinks. The hyperlinks can link to videos, pictures or articles for the students to read. They use the information contained in the links to learn and complete an assignment about a topic. The topic can be about anything: you can have HyperDocs that are grammar focused or HyperDocs that are about tornados.

I think the best part about learning about HyperDocs is that the folks who are creating/using them are so willing to share their docs with others. There are TONS of already created HyperDocs that folks will let you use/adapt for free. How awesome is that??

You can learn more about HyperDocs by visiting the HyperDocs website or buying the The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps book.

All in all I am so glad I went and also sad that I have never gone before! Fortunately, next year it will be hosted right in my hometown so I will definitely be able to attend it again. Useful and relatively cheap for a conference of its size.

I enjoyed it so much and am grateful to have so many takeaways to bring back to my classroom that I can use almost immediately. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I always learn so much from you. Keep Posting and keep sharing.