My Day at the 2014 NICE Mini Conference

makerBotToday I saw my first 3D printer and my first RaspberryPi computer. The annual $5.00 Nice MiniConference #niceminicom took place at Niles North High School in Skokie, IL.  There were so many choices that anyone was likely to find something of interest during the three session time slots. This is a link of the presenters and their notes for the sessions they led.

David Stopps

David looking at some student projects. Also, notice the swivel chairs in the AV lab at Niles.

The first session I attended was led by David Stopps, @dstopps  on Twitter, who presented 3D Printing: What It is and Lessons Learned. I’ve been keen to see a 3D printer since I read earlier this month about Sophie Lester and the dragonfly the Australian scientists built for her. David brought along a MakerBot Replicator 2.

He said that the sixth graders love working in SketchUp. It’s usually a bit hard for them, but they say,  “I want to do this, how do I do this?” Eighth graders design small rockets and send them up. This was a fun session and I have a better idea now about 3D printers and how they work.

from back what_they_make

The second session, Google Forms for Data Collection and Behavior Modification, was led by Carrie Baughcum, on Twitter @Heck_Awesome. Carrie provided us with some great notes and created amazing Google forms that she shared with us that can be used in Special Education situations and I can see some connections making her ideas suitable in other departments too. A take away for me was using conditional formatting on the spreadsheets created from the Google forms that students complete. Teachers in the room with the students type in a code on one of the Google form questions which changes the color of that particular cell assigned in the spreadsheet by the Google form which alerts Carrie if something is amiss. She knows a teacher was there with the student when it was completed by the code entered. She sometimes creates a form per student so that their data is all on the same spreadsheet and she puts an icon on their student iPads so the students can find the form easily.

The final session I attended was split between two people who applied for and received grants. Kim Konishi told us how her students are using Educreations to create videos to teach one another math concepts to meet the Common Core State Standards. They like to do it and sometimes even beg to do it. Kim has an account with Educreations and she signs them into it so that when they complete their movie it is automatically uploaded to her account. She taught four of the students and they then taught the others dividing up the room into four small groups.

raspberryPiKathy McDonough led the second half of the final session. Her session, What? A $35.00 computer, was fun. I’ve been wanting to see a Raspberry Pi. Wow, they are small. It fit right in my hand! The students figured out what to do with them on their own. They asked to take home instruction books so they could read them at night, even some of the students who generally do not like to read. She had several books, including one called Raspberry Pi Projects for the Evil Genius. With a title like that I’m tempted to read it myself.

gail by marisolAnd finally, at the end of the three sessions we met in the Auditorium where Ryan Bretag, @ryanbretag on Twitter, gave a really interesting and thoughtful presentation which you can watch here.  During the presentation we were given sixty seconds to draw a portrait of the person next to us and then post them on Twitter as a selfie. Here is a portrait of me, by Marisol.

A gigantic thank you for all the nice people connected with NICE who put their hard work into making this a great conference.

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2 Responses to My Day at the 2014 NICE Mini Conference

  1. It is so wonderful to read about or hear about ideas and then see them in action, hear about how other educators are using them with students. It was just wonderful to have you at my session yesterday and to meet you. I am happy that you were able to take something away from it and have ideas you can also share with others. What a wonderful space you have here. I love the idea of small ideas for educators…who can say no to trying one of those!!!

    • gaillegrand says:

      Hi Carrie,
      I agree, it is useful to hear, see or read about what other educators are doing. It’s helpful for me when I reflect or write about the day because it helps me use the information later and I can also look back when people ask about the day some months after the event. I really want to compliment you on both your presentation, your openness, and the Google forms and thinglink you prepared which makes it easy for the participants in your session to refer to in the coming days. Thanks so much!

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