Sunday, 24 February 2013


On our way to Neepawa!
      I shared on Thursday that I would be presenting four presentations within 20 hours and I am happy to report that everything went smoothly! On Thursday evening I attended a Technology Information Night (TIN) hosted by the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) and presented a short 20 minute presentation with Tyler, a fellow education student, on our experiences with blogging. On Friday I attended the 2013 BYTE Conference and, with Tyler, presented two regularly-slotted sessions as well as a short 20 minute live-stream presentation as part of the Bits of BYTE setup. This was my very first time attending either of these events not to mention presenting at them so it was a very exciting and busy two days! I was also able to meet some of the people whom I have been connecting with via Twitter and it was so exciting! I am happy to say that everyone is just as wonderful in real life as they are online and I am proud to have such amazing educators within my network. It was especially awesome to finally be able to meet up with Mary and Georgette after connecting for so long online!! :)

     The sessions at both of these events cover everything ed tech related including tutorials on specific tech tools, trouble shooting tips, professional learning networks, specific learning activities hosted online and much more. In fact, there were over 80 sessions in total to choose from! If you'd like to see some of the awesome sessions that were offered, the schedule is available on the Byte 2013 Wiki.

ManACE Technology Information Night (TIN)

ManACE TIN, technology information night
Tyler and I During Our Presentation
This was the first TIN presentation held in Neepawa and the first one that I ever attended! The atmosphere of these events are very casual and it is more like a gathering of colleagues as opposed to a formal event. Everyone in attendance is interested in learning more from the select speakers as well as providing their own tips and suggestions on the subject. As a group we started the event with supper before moving onto the presentations.

The first was a conversation facilitated by Andy McKiel titled "Killer Apps" where he shared some of his favourite iPad apps and then passed the floor onto other people to share their favourites. I shared the Remind 101 app that I used when I was student teaching which allows teachers to easily communicate with their students safely via text messaging reminders. My fiance, who is also an education student, downloaded one of the other suggestions; MyScript Calculator. It is a calculator app that allows the user to use their own handwriting as opposed to finding the correct buttons and typing in equations. It is really neat, easy to use and he loves it so far. There are also some cool sharing features as well as a feature that allows students to move step by step through equations to see how they are solved.

The second was a conversation facilitated by Janis Williams and Sherry Hannah about using QR Codes in the classroom. I was especially excited about this one because I have played around with QR Codes a bit but mainly for the purpose of attempting to go paperless and I was interested in seeing other uses for them. Janis and Sherry had a lot of examples placed around the room that we could scan and see what came up. Some of the ideas I especially liked were:
- Have audio clips embedded in a QR Code and attached to student work that is displayed on bulletin boards. By scanning the code, the audience can hear the student explaining their project, what they learned, what they liked about it, how they completed it, etc.
- Have bibliographies embedded in a QR Code and attached to student work that is displayed. That way the finished project like a poster, display, etc is displayed and the bibliography information is available but it is not taking up bulletin board room.

Tyler and I were the last presentation of the evening. Since we have both been blogging for over a year, we decided to share a Top 10 list of what we enjoy most about blogging and how it has helped us prepare for the education field. Here is a copy of our presentation:

BYTE Conference
Keynote Session
- Clarence Fisher

     When I first started getting information on the keynote session I was so excited to see that the keynote speaker was Clarence Fisher, who Skyped into our Internet for Educators class just two weeks ago! After hearing Clarence's thoughts in our classroom I was excited to see what his viewpoint would be for the session and I was not disappointed.
A panoramic view of the ~400 some attendees during Clarence's keynote address
Clarence really pushed for us to think about "big ideas" as we attended our sessions. While many of the sessions discuss various tech tools he wanted us to think beyond the tool itself and think about how we can use it with our students. What are we doing with technology that we wouldn't be able to do without it? He used his recent laptop purchase as an example when he stated that he would not be using these new tools as, "fancy typewriters". As we made our way through the day, Clarence encouraged us to Think Differently (how are we using technology) and Think Bigger (how can technology change our view of what learning is).

     Another exciting thing about the keynote session was that the evening before, while at ManACE TIN, Tyler was asked if he would create a "visual representation" of Clarence's talk while it was happening. Tyler is a very visual/creative person and often doodles his notes rather than using text (see an example here) and many people thought this would be an interesting addition to the presentation. So, as Clarence spoke, Tyler sketched out the aspects of his talk. Here are some pictures!

Tyler working on his sketch (left) and Clarence on stage presenting (right)
A panoramic view from Tyler's point of view at the front of the gym
Tyler and Clarence with the finished product
Global Education - Flatten Your Classroom
- Eva Brown, Kate Hallett, and Jennifer Kasprick

     I was originally drawn to this session because I have teachables in the Social Studies area (History, Geography, Geology), I live in a very small rural community, and I thought the information would help extend learning beyond the confines of the classroom walls. The beginning of the session was a brief overview about the importance of being a connected educator and a review of tools such as Twitter, Pinterest, Diigo, etc. Kate made an excellent point when she stated, "If we, as teachers, aren't connected we won't be able to connect our students." The remainder of the session was an introduction to the Flat Classroom Project and their experience with participating in some of the activities. Prior to this session I was unaware of the Flat Classroom Project and didn't know anything about it. Here is an explanation taken from their About page:
     The Flat Classroom® Projectis a global collaborative project that joins 
     together middle and senior high   school students. This project is part of 
     the emerging tend in internationally-aware schools to embrace a holistic 
     and constructivist educational approach to work collaboratively with others
     around the world in order to create students who are competitive and 
There are many different projects that teachers and students can take part in, depending on age level, subject area, time commitment, etc. There is a fee involved as well as very committed participation so I am unsure if I would be comfortable jumping into this type of project right away. I would love, however, to use these type of projects as inspiration and maybe create a similar type of project on a smaller level (with another classroom or close school). Participating in the full project is definitely something I would consider once I have been in the classroom for a year or two and am sure that I would be able to manage the time commitment appropriately. Here is a video put out by the project that explains some of the benefits of students connecting and collaborating on a global level:

Connecting, Reflecting, Creating: Why We Blog
- Kirsten Landen & Tyler Letkeman

Tyler and I at our session!
     Tyler and I presented during the second and third sessions that ran right before and after lunch. Our first session had a larger attendance than the second but both went very smoothly! I found some of the conversations during our first session interesting because not one person had any experience with blogging and only one was using social media tools like Twitter (which we talk about in our session too). During our second session we had participants that were actively blogging and participants who had previously blogged in the past. Some of the comments that arose during our sessions were:

- What is the benefit of putting information like this online?
   Both Tyler and I shared our personal experiences with how blogging has
   helped us develop professionally, make meaningful connections with other
   educators, archive our learning/ideas/thoughts, create relevant learning
   opportunities for our students and provide us with an authentic audience for
   our writing We also had some conversations about how it all depended on
   what kind of information people were interested in sharing (reflections,
   resources, classroom activities), why they were writing (to gain
   feedback, personal records, sharing with parents), and how they would use
   their blog (personal use, sharing with students/parents/admin, interactive
   learning, etc).
- Could this be done with students too?
   Of course! Tyler and I both agreed that we would be using blogs with our
   students when we have our own classrooms one day. We shared some of the
   great educators in Manitoba who are blogging with their students like Erin 
   Malkoske, Georgette Nairn, and Mary Bertram (who were all at BYTE)! We
   also talked about some of the tools like KidBlog and Quad Blog that can be
   used specifically with students for a safe and manageable environment.

Overall I feel like our sessions went over very well and the feedback that we have received so far has been positive. I'm not sure if we specifically convinced anyone to start blogging right away, but I feel like we provided a good framework so that educators are more aware of the benefits that blogging can bring. It definitely was a lot of fun to share our ideas and I am so thankful for the opportunity to present at such an amazing conference, thanks BYTE Committee!

Bits of BYTE - Celebrating Our Blogiversary
- Kirsten Landen & Tyler Letkeman

     During the fourth session Tyler and I also presented in the Bits of BYTE sessions that were streamed live online. These sessions were approximately twenty minutes as opposed to a full hour session so we both decided to present our sessions from the ManACE TIN event rather than try to cut down the information in our other session. Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn't fully attend the final session of the day so I missed out on a PLN session by Phil Taylor, sorry! This was a really cool experience and I was a bit star stuck to see all of the amazing educators who were also part of this event!
In addition to streaming live, the sessions were also archived so they can be viewed later on. I was excited about this since I will have a record of one of my first presentations! Here is our session :)
Video streaming by Ustream

Overall I had a BLAST at my first ever ManACE TIN and BYTE Conference. I am so thankful for the opportunity to present my ideas along with so many great educators from across the province! I had an amazing experience and met so many awesome people!

I'm sending out a BIG thanks to all of the presenters, organizers, and volunteers for this event, you all did an amazing job :)

Congrats to Tyler who won the Snowball Microphone that he wanted SOOOOOO much!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience at the ManACE TIN in Neepawa. Would have loved to attend. It's such a neat community of teacher/learners we have here.

    1. You're welcome Miles! Thank your for visiting and reading my posts :) I heard wonderful things about your involvement at the TIN event in Winnipeg!

  2. Congrats to you and Tyler for successfully presenting! Awesome to get Ed students out there! I enjoyed reading your reflection about BYTE and am especially intrigued by the MyScript Calculator as Math is not my strong suit and I feel like it would enhance student learning in my classroom. Very cool app! I think it is great that you and Tyler are advocating the benefits of blogging and sharing how useful blogging tools are in the classroom to reflect and build interactive relationships with classrooms and educators around the world.

    1. Thanks Chantelle! The MyScript Calculator was really neat and it is a free download if you want to play around with it a bit. Like I mentioned in the post, I'm not sure if we really convinced anyone to start blogging right away, but we provided more information about the benefits.

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