I attended my very first Extreme Coffee CUE (#CoffeeCueAVSCV) in April. Since I had never attended one, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now that I have attended one, I will definitely be back. Why? Well, how often do we have time to sit in a relaxed atmosphere and chat with other teachers about tech in education? I learned so much and I loved teachers supporting teachers and sharing EdTech ideas. For those of you who don’t know, CUE is a non-profit formed in 1978. Their goal is “to advance student achievement through technology in all disciplines from preschool through college.” The CUE conference held annually in Palm Springs is one of the BEST conferences I have ever attended! You can check out @CUELosAngeles on Twitter or learn more from their website.
Okay, so you never have participated in Extreme Coffee Cue. That is okay! I got you…
First, you will show up and awkwardly glance around for people who look like they may be teachers. Once you see this sign, you will know you are in the right place!
Next, you will sit and introduce yourself to the others! Our CUE host was an elementary school teacher and self-professed #EdTechGeek. We later made the connection that she is also my daughter’s science teacher! SCV is a small place! Four high school teachers, a junior high teacher, and a student teacher were also in attendance. We represented a variety of subject areas from ELA, social science, art, special education, and science.
Now start the chat! The conversations unfold in an organic manner. One teacher will start talking about tech. It may be tech he/she is excited to share. It may be that the teacher is looking for tech to use for something in particular. I am going to lead you through the Cliff’s Notes version of our discussion:
One of the teachers discussed Blogger and whether it is the most effective platform for her purpose. She uses it so that parents can access her syllabus and she can quickly share information. Another teacher said he uses it as a place to share “digital kindness” with the entire school. These include little notes that shout out students and staff for the kind things done at their site. They then showcase the notes on their school TV. This then led to a discussion on how to best communicate with parents. We all agreed that Infinite Campus is clunky when it comes to mass emails. Class Dojo is used at the elementary level. Parent Square was designed by parents and can be used for global communication (communicated about a lockdown, for example). The Saugus Union School District will begin using Parent Square soon. Remind is another app we discussed. This somehow led to a discussion about standards-based grading or “SBG” for short. We heard about how elementary schools are trying to adapt to this approach and one teacher shared his experience using SBG for three years at the secondary level. We all agreed this is a direction we want to explore and wished we had better tech to help us with SBG. The discussion continued as we shared other platforms and apps, weighing the advantages and drawbacks of each. Often we would dive into other topics in education, share struggles, offer advice, and then circle back to tech again.
This type of organic discussion continued for the next hour. At this point, my family walked up and greeted me so we could have dinner together. I said good-bye and thanked everyone for the great ideas. An hour later I emerged from the restaurant nearby to find five of the teachers still chatting!