STAR DEN Educator – Cheryl Woolwine's Thoughts on the Palm Beach County Technology Conference

Chery was very gracious enough to send me her thoughts about the recent Palm Beach County Technology Conference. I’m sorry for not getting my post conference thoughts on it as well. Had some family issues that cropped up that kept me pretty busy during spring break last week. Here’s Cheryl’s thoughts on a GREAT conference put on by Lee Kolbert and her team down there in Palm Beach County.

Palm Beach Technology Conference

I had a wonderful experience last week, Thanks to fellow Star member Lee Kolbert and her technology team   I was fortunate enough to attend the 10th annual Palm Beach Technology Conference “ Now and Then; A Decade of Change”. When I first decide to attend I thought I would drive down in my new car, meet some friends, make some new friends and see what they were doing technology wise in another Florida county. I did that and more….

I am so impressed with what they offered. I arrived the night before so I wouldn’t miss a thing traveling on Friday. When I arrived Thursday, I met Lee at the high school to see if I could help out in any way. Yes, they could use my assistance and so I pitched in stuffing bags with materials for the next day. At around 6pm they corralled the volunteers to the cafeteria for dinner. And feed us they did chicken, ribs, pulled pork, salads, fruit, dessert and beverages. A local bakery had made two cakes one looked like a cassette tape and the other looked like an IPod (Then and Now). Then it was back to work with bag stuffing, 2000 in total. We finished our evening around 8pm. I went back to the hotel and met up with a vendor friend and went out for coffee.  So far I had driven there safely; met with friends and made some new friends everything was going great.

Friday morning started out early, it was recommended I arrive at the school at 7am in order to get a seat for the opening session.  I am not a morning person so things were not wonderful at 6:45am, then I received a call from my friend the evening before she had lost her car keys and wanted me to look in my car for them before I left for the high school.  Things were definitely going downhill! NO keys we looked and looked – decided she must have left them at the restaurant where we went for coffee. They don’t open until 3pm so she would ride with me and we would go after the conference. Except, she was supposed to drive her boss to the conference – how embarrassing – finally my brain decided to ignite and I remember she had put her keys in the bottom of her purse, so I insisted she empty the purse and look again and Viola KEYS! So we headed to the HS me in my car and she with her boss in her car.

I had received my registration the evening before so fortunately I did not have to wait on the long lines and could go straight into the auditorium to hear the keynote speaker Dr. Tim Tyson from Georgia. The auditorium filled up fast with overflow heading to the cafeteria with a video feed.  I had heard Tim the year before at NECC in Atlanta and he is always good to listen to. He talked of when his mother was a school principal and change and then of a video project at his middle school and shared examples WOW!! 

Now the problems began! When I looked at my program I couldn’t believe all the breakout sessions they had to offer. I began reading through them and they were all of quality! I couldn’t decide where to go! DO I go listen to Kathy Schrock (named one of the “Top 5 Innovators” in Educational technology) and the Second Life movement,    Alan November (an international leader in educational technology) or a session put on by a Palm Beach teacher? Decisions, decisions, decisions! It was harder than at FETC to decide.  There was no way I was going to be able to see or hear all the sessions I wanted to. I decided to go to one of the ESE sessions to see if they could share any information in my specialty area. After all I have heard Kathy and Alen before at other conferences so I want to get something I normally wouldn’t get and that I did! I thoroughly enjoyed my session; Word-Up:Using Microosft Word for Struggling Writers! for ESE students in the regular classroom by Jill McCormick and James Kniseley. After the session we talked and exchanged cards adding to my network (another goal of mine). The next session I chose to listen to Brad Fountain from Discovery as he spoke on Discovery Education Science, something I am not very familiar with.  After the session they had a lunch break – do I go eat or take a run around the vendor hall? Vendor hall won! I received information on a new listening device, software widely used by Palm Beach and some freebies given away by various vendors. After moving everything to my car I was getting hungry!

I was invited to eat lunch in the VIP Lounge! WOW such service! They offered a buffet of chicken, pasta, salad, cookies and beverages. EXCELLENT! And again a chance to network! I really enjoyed having lunch with some new friends then ran into a few Star Discovery Members also visiting the conference. After lunch it was back to sessions.

I sat in a session with Karen Seddon; Of Two Minds: Second Life, her thoughts of Second Life.  When I arrived to the room it was great see a room of DEN members, some I knew and some I was meeting for the first time! We had a wonderful discussion on Second Life.

The final session I heard was put on by THE Hall Davidson. The subjects was Building Digital Media Project for Every Classroom. Although I was familiar with the content it was very entertaining and offered new ways for me to present the information in my trainings back in Palatka, Florida.

After this session we all filed back into the auditorium for some final thoughts and door prizes. Again, with overflow in the cafeteria. They had some awesome door prizes to give away – 2 small refrigerators, desktop computer w/printer, wireless laptop setup including router & printer, and many more. I was not a winner but enjoyed watching as teacher after teacher won prize after prize. 

4pm on a Friday and to me it looked as if all 2000 had stayed until the very end! Our day is done!

I look forward to contacting some of the presenters and asking for handouts when I was unable to attend their sessions. Throughout the day there were twitter conversations on the conference, pictures taken, blogging and video feeds/Ustream, Technology in action. This was truly a technology conference.  In my opinion it was as good if not better than FETC. The only problem I experienced was an inability to attend more sessions!

Thanks Lee for the invite! Congratulations to the Palm Beach Technology Team for all their hard work. It definitely paid off.     

Comments

  1. Lee Kolbert

    Cheryl,
    Thank you for taking the time to recap the day. It was so nice having you here and we sure did need your help the night before! What was it… 2500 bags we stuffed? We had great feedback and typically the comments we get revolve around there not being enough time to attend all the terrific sessions. It is not unusual for us to get requests to host this as a multi day conference. Unfortunately, we are a team of less than 15 people, so the resources to host such an enormous event are slim. BTW, those gorgeous cakes were not made by a local bakery, they were made by the wife of one of my team members. I will post the pics on my Flickr site. Weren’t they incredible? Thanks again for coming down. It sure was terrific having our warm community of DEN folks here to support our ed tech efforts. ~Lee

  2. Jonathan Decker

    Wow! what a great snapshot. As one of Lee’s colleagues and one of the less than 15 people she mentions, I thank you for not only attending, but jumping right in and joining in the effort. I think you might agree that this shared effort is what it’s all about when it comes to advancing education today. I hope we can look forward to seeing you, and maybe even some more dedicated folks next year!

  3. Nathan Guteras

    Sounds like you learned so much, and have much to share with your fellow educators. How did you consider and digest all that valuable information in such a short time ? Thanks for summarizing your adventure with us who were unable to attend.

  4. Debra Bohanan

    It sounds like an awesome event. Thanks for sharing your insight on the conference. Maybe next year it won’t fall at the same time I am printing report cards for the school. I would love to be a part of this great event.

  5. johnson789

    It sure was terrific having our warm community of DEN folks here to support our ed tech efforts.I think you might agree that this shared effort is what it’s all about when it comes to advancing education.
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  6. DC

    Well – girl – you had a wonderful time!!
    Educational – and social!! So glad – will love to hear about the Digital Media Project for every classroom. Let us know when you are going to download – hahaha! See you in August for our workshop – I ordered the workshop materials for the inservice for Inspiration and Data Inspire and asked them for it to be sent to school by the 1st of August. Here goes for me – chow caio – dc

  7. Kathy Schrock

    Cheryl,

    Thanks for mentioning me in the blog and I am glad you enjoyed your sessions. Just for your info, I never present the same thing from year to year, so you can always count on learning something new from me, too!

    Kathy

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