CUE18 Spring Palm Springs

When ever my district or union offers to send me to a conference I jump on the opportunity. I love conferences. The crowds, the energy, the inspiration.  Spring #CUE18 did not disappoint! Unfortunately, it is hard to hang onto the glow I get from a series of great sessions. When at the conference the energy is practically manic. People talking, going, learning, inspiring at every turn. Coming home, Eminem’s song, “Back to reality, oops there goes gravity” begins to play in my head and I feel all that great energy start to slither out of me. It evaporates in a puff of smoke when I return home and my children are fighting or saying, “Hey mom, what’s for dinner?” Don’t they know that I am still walking on cloud nine and, being teenagers with egos the size of Uranus they don’t really care.

In the past, I’ve always started out with good intentions. The swag bag is kept by my desk with all the cards people gave me, the phone numbers and emails of the people I really want to reconnect with. Sometimes I place a large book order on Amazon. And then, reality just takes over. The swag bag gets lost in the junk closet (yes… I am ashamed, but I have #SpringBreakGoals ). With the light snuffed out, I go back to my day to day, applying to my classroom the few tidbits that made an instant impact and never go back to remember the rest. Granted, just those few tidbits that do stick are worth going to the conference. The books often do get read and that inspiration is also applied into my pedagogy. But, I want to figure out how to hold onto that glow!

Hanging onto the glow of this conference is something I need to achieve the next steps on my career path. I have 1:1 Chromebooks this year, and the things I learned at the conference are certainly going to take class up the #SAMRModel, if only I retain the enthusiasm and a vast majority of what I gained from the 8 sessions I attended.

So today I am going to write a review of each of the most impactful sessions I attended. These, in a list, are:

Climbing the SAMR Ladder: Designing Engaging Lessons for 21st Century Learners presented by Julia Maynard and Michael Bloemsma of San Francisco USD

Flipping the Elementary Classroom presented by Ann-Marie Skaggs

Google Classroom: Community Space That Inspires, Empowers, Engages (And Makes Teacher’s Lives Easier) presented by Lainie Rowell

Doing More with Google Slides presented by Ryan Archer

Google Classroom Tips and Tricks – Part 1 and 2 presented by Alice Keeler



Alice Keeler: Fun. Google. Classroom.

Of all the sessions that I attended at #CUE18 (and I attended a lot more than I have reviewed on my blog), Google Classroom Tips and Tricks – Part 1 and 2 presented by Alice Keeler ( was, by far, my favorite. Not only does Alice have a wealth of knowledge about using Google Classroom, there was never a dull moment as she flew through her presentation material.

There is no way that I caught everything that she shared with us Saturday morning, but the things that I will be applying to my classroom on Monday are going to change my student’s lives forever. How great is that!?

Before we even got to Tip 1, Alice had given us about a hundred tips. When she said “Tip 1” I was already mind-blown.

She warned us! Some people actually had to leave early because they were drowning in information overload, but I am so glad that I persevered.

Alice has worked with developers to solve numerous problems that she faced in working with Google Classroom. Just this idea alone has me excited to begin exploring Google Classroom innovation on my own. It never occured to me to hire a developer to solve my day-to-day technology problems. And I wonder what new possibilities will open up just from the very idea that it’s something that can be done.

Additionally, it really pays off to learn the keyboard shortcuts. We all know, as educators, that every moment of time spent clicking on our computers will literally add up to minutes of wasted time per day. The more shortcuts you know, the more time you’ll have to spend with your family, (which, by the way, Alice says that’s what we really should be doing… Why do we need Alice to tell us that? It’s like she has given me permission because she said it over and over in a conference that my boss paid for me to attend… Thank you Alice, it’s like a golden ticket!)

As I review my hastily typed and somewhat cryptic notes from the presentation, I realize that to type up all the tips and tricks she mentioned would result in a book.. which she has already created!

Instead, I will simply sum up the key elements and use this space to recommend you to buy her books or book her for a presentation. (Seriously… go ask your principal!)

  • Use Google Classroom to foster relationships by strategically using the comment section and other tools that we take for granted. Alice has numerous google extensions that will help you do this. Using video-cams for grading is a great way to give face to face feedback that students will actually be excited to review.
  • Mastery learning is perfected with Google Classroom. Didn’t do well on the test? Do it again… and again… and again until you get it right. No more toting back and forth those frightening stacks of papers. Or the dreaded late bin.
  • Use Google classroom to have students give feedback to each other. True learning comes when you are critiquing the work of others. When teachers provide all the feedback, they are the ones learning, not the students. Put all the learning power into their hands.

Wow… still mind blown Alice! How on earth will I share this with my colleagues?

  • Don’t grade in ABC Order… think about how you feel at the start of grading…. You give all the feedback and by the end you say “great job!”
  • Use filters in Gmail for Google Classroom…. if you organize your assignments by assignment number and use your initials (DM) in the comment section you will be able to use Google Filters in Gmail to your utmost advantage.

My notes from this presentation are going to be my bible for the next few weeks as I try out all the things that I learned in these three very short hours with Alice. I am so grateful that I arrived early to her session and secured my seat. Now… let me go stalk her conference calendar to see if I can get my district to send me to see her again….