CATE 2014 Conference Reflection

This past weekend, I spent some time at the 2014 CATE Conference. Last time I attended the CATE Conference, Billy Collins read his poems during one of the dinner sessions. I learned so much from other teachers. I felt rejuvenated and excited.

I was also just beginning my doctoral program, and I made a few suggestions as to what the organization could do leverage social media and technology. I had lots of great conversations with key people, and I left feeling pretty good about it.

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Two years later, I was back to do a presentation on game-based learning. I was just as excited to be with fellow teachers who are passionate about education. However, I realize not much has changed in terms of technology. It was still a great conference, but I thought a few things could make this conference that much better next year.

Integrating Social Media

During the registration, I asked what the official #hashtag for the conference was. CATE didn’t have one. Of course, the participants were tweeting about the conference regardless. I suggest that the conference takes charge of their brand by leveraging all forms of social media during the conference, especially Twitter. It will be simple to add the hashtags to the program, and encourage the conference attendees to use them. It should also consider having the Twitter feed during all the main sessions, so that the speaker can interact with the audience.

Intergrating More Technology

I suggest CATE create a place for the presenters and the participants to upload all the presentation materials.  It surprised me that it did not already have such a space. It will be as simple as setting up a Dropbox or even Google Drive. I also suggest that the conference considers doing live streaming and/or recording of the sessions for future use. Of course, this will require the presenters’ consent. But starting with a few and expanding to offer additional webinar could be beneficial in continuing its legacy of excellence. This will also bring in new members into the fold.

Intergrating Hands-on Sessions and Diversifying Session Formats

I suggest CATE diversify the session formats and reduce the number of session per time slot. I also suggest adding hands-on sessions where teachers can demonstrate their lesson techniques and help others to create lessons that can use when they return to their classrooms. Rather than offering 8-10 lecture-style sessions, CATE could offer 4 -5 sessions, and give the presenters opportunities to participate in  a poster session or to ignite talks. This will draw younger teachers or college students who might not be ready to present in a typical one hour and fifteen minute sessions but still want to present at the conference. I also suggest creating a better mechanism for selecting the presentation. I say that because I did not have to submit any sample work for my presentation. Although I think my presentation was excellent, I am not sure whether the committee would have thought that without seeing my work prior to the conference.

Conference Proceedings Publication

Finally, CATE with its existing literary magazine should consider working with teachers to publish conference proceedings as other major conferences typically do. I suggest CATE does this online. I believe this will serve two purposes. First, this will naturally facilitate deeper theoretical and pedagogical discussions among all participants. Second, this will provide opportunities for teachers aspiring to become researcher-scholars, which is one of the organization’s missions.

I think that CATE is a wonderful organization, dedicated to improving the lives of English teachers. Every time I attend the conference, I am struck by how amazing and hardworking all the teachers really are. I hope to contribute to this organization in a meaningful way by doing more presentations and providing suggestions. As a technology doctoral student, I want to help the organization leverage many available resources. I can’t wait to go back to the next year’s conference and many conferences to come! Teaching English is not easy, and we really need each other.

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Project with the Digital Youth Network

The following is an article I submitted to the publicity department at Pepperdine University. It might be altered prior to the publication, but I thought I’d share.

Student Transformation through Social Media – How iRemix Changed My Seniors

Kip Glazer, EDLT Cadre 18

In October of 2012, Tracy Edwards from Cadre 15 asked, “Any writers or writing teachers looking for PT work?” on the All Cadre EDLT Facebook page. This simple question eventually lead to  our project of connecting her 6th grade students in Chicago and my 12th grade students in Bakersfield, California, demonstrating the power of social media.

This idea to connect students across the country came from a keynote speech delivered by Dr. Sheridan Blau at the 2010 California Association of Teachers of English conference. Blau argued for an instructional practice that allowed the students to become their own teachers.  Since then, I have been looking for a way to make this a reality when Tracy introduced me to the iRemix website.

By the time I connected with Tracy, I had already used Google Docs in my paperless classroom and established the peer-editing practices among my students.  However, iRemix offered me the perfect solution to take my instructional strategies to the next level.

Before they were incorporated into the iRemix website, my students wrote resumes and cover letters to be reviewed by the research team at DePaul University.  They also created introduction videos to be shared with the 6th graders.  When they finally gained access to the iRemix website in January of 2013, each of my students was assigned a minimum of 5 Chicago students.

To facilitate the writing-mentoring practice, my classes go to the computer lab once a week.  Here my students read, comment on, and edit the writing as well as multi-media produced by their assigned mentees.  They are also asked to reflect on their interactions and make suggestions to improve the iRemix website.

The most obvious benefit from this project is that my students are becoming much more cognizant of their own writing errors.  They have expressed the desire to gain more grammar knowledge, which in turn has forced me to expand my instructional repertoire.  They are also becoming extremely savvy in leveraging technology to express themselves.  The 12th graders have even created podcasts and videos as forms of communication in addition to providing writing feedback.

More importantly, I am witnessing my students becoming leaders with social consciousness.  Reading so many tragic stories of gun violence and murder written by the 6th graders, my students are actively seeking out ways to make a real difference in their mentees lives.  They are becoming empowered because they were given some responsibility.  And that’s the best part about this project.  We are teaching our young people that they are capable of making a difference and giving them the tools to do so in a safe and guided environment.

Since the launch of this project, we have been fortunate to be featured on the KQED Mind/Shift blog along with a couple of local media outlets.  I know that this wouldn’t have been possible without the Pepperdine community that has brought Tracy and me together.  I look forward to working with everyone on the iRemix team to gain more knowledge.

For more information, please contact Kip Glazer at kip.glazer@pepperdine.edu.