Okay, this year's tech conference in Austin may have been the BEST EVER. I had a blast, learned a lot--and could see Philip in the evenings since his daughter's house was only 3 miles from our hotel!
The keynote speaker was Leigh Ann Tuohy, the real mom from the movie The Blind Side. (Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for playing her.) Ms. Tuohy was a hoot--a true Southern Belle--and she challenged us to go the extra mile for our disadvantaged students. She said something like, "It's real easy to teach kids like Collins and S.J. who have lots going for them. It's HARD to teach kids like my son, Michael. You may have to get to school early and then stay late to tutor him. You may have to get real creative on how you grade his progress. You may have to change your lesson plans. YOU CAN DO IT. That's why you went to that fancy Teacher College!"
While her speech was filled with lots of laughs, she really made us think about the kids who don't have a home of their own...or parents who check their homework and make them take baths...or parents at all, for that matter.
The second day, as we got seated for another General Session speaker, we knew it would be different because there were 3D glasses on every seat. Professional juggler Mark Nizer kept everyone in stitches while showing off LOTS of technology.
I learned TONS about software and collaboration and book trailers, won an online database from Capstone and a book from Linworth Publishing, and even got to pose with Moby...which will make Madison's PALS class freak out! (They LOVE Moby. We do special lessons in the library with these special students, and Tim & Moby teach us about seasons, the spine and nervous system, pioneers...you name it!)
In another session, about free Web 2.0 tools students can use to make multimedia projects, we learned about a site called ImageChef, which lets kids do cool things with their digital photos. I used a jpg of "Brittany," a piece of art I once bought as a gag gift...but then couldn't bear to part with. (She grows on you! Or maybe just me since my entire family has begged me to send her to Boston's MOBA, the Museum of Bad Art. They have threatened to hold an "Art Intervention" to rid the house of this particular piece of "art.") So, anyway, I took an existing photo of her and inserted it into a cool, customizable frame at ImageChef to let everyone know how I feel about the Brittany Masterpiece.
Yeah! That's right! No MOBA for Brittany...
But the best part of the Austin trip was getting see Bethany after the conference! (Oh, and for the second year in a row, Tabby got to join us for lunch at Chuy's...here's hoping we can make it an annual tradition!)
One of the highlights of the weekend was bowling a 148, good enough to beat Bethany and Philip. (Bethany won the first game, I won the second game--and then we quit and turned in our bowling shoes before Philip could beat us both!) Then we went to the restaurant where Bethany works, The Cottonseed Cafe & Deli, for dinner. DELICIOUS!
Thanks to Jori, the world's best house and dog sitter, for taking such good care of May Bee while I was gone--even though I know you gave her beer and let her get on the bed...and even though you covered up Brittany, so she couldn't watch you sleep. (I came home to find a sundress covering Brittany's face!)
What a wonderful week in Austin! (Bonus photos of Austin & Bethany's landscape art below.)
Keep Austin weird...and wonderful! Be back for TCEA again next year, I hope!