Thoughts of a Conference Presenter

Presenting at state conferences is always so rewarding. When I accept an opportunity to present, I feel a sense of excitement and a bit of a thrill. “I can’t believe they want me!” Then as the weeks go by and work/home/family rolls along, I begin to think that maybe I shouldn’t have accepted. Maybe it just costs too much since there really isn’t any money in our budget for this trip. Maybe no one will come to my sessions. Maybe I’ll wander around aimlessly feeling lost because I only know one or two people that are in attendance.

Fast forward to the week before the conference. Oh no! I’ve hardly worked on those presentations that I started when I was first accepted. What was the description again? What have I learned about this topic since I first submitted my proposals? What has Google changed that I need to alter from where I was back then?

Even though I may have presented this very topic multiple times, I still have to customize the presentation for the audience and the venue. Some people might think the presentation part of it isn’t that important. Some of the sessions I’ve attended in my career certainly focus on content and not esthetics! But I feel that the visual part of the presentation is just as important as the content.

I recently spent several days learning about The Art and Science of Presenting from Phil Echols @PhilEchols and Chrys Brown from the Office of Professional Learning in Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, NC. These two excellent presenters provided multiple strategies that I have since continuously employed in my presentations.

Having a consistent template for slides makes the presentation look so much more professional. Providing links to the materials either at the session or before is really important for those that use the app or website for the conference. I’m guilty of forgetting to post the links prior to the sessions!

So why am I ruminating about all of this? Because sometimes attendees think that presenters breeze in and don’t have to do much. Because sometimes presenters try their best and the WIFI doesn’t work or the slides are out of order or they have too much content for the time allotted.

Presentation is a craft and an artform. Am I great at it? No. Am I good at it? I think so, but those of you who have seen me present should tell me what I need to improve on. Your feedback – both good and bad – help me to grow my style and improve my craft. If you have ever attended a conference, please be sure to provide feedback. If you’re a conference organizer, please provide that feedback to your presenters. Assessment is a key component of the process.

So now that I’m headed home from this conference, I am so appreciative of the opportunities I had. I filled my schedule with Music Technology sessions. I heard some great music by High School and Collegiate groups. I connected with people that are actively using technology in their band rooms, classrooms and choirs. And I have met some true pioneers in the field. Thank you, TN Music Educators Association for one of the best conferences I’ve been to in an amazing city full of music. #TnMEAConference

NC Music Educators Conference Coming Up!

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you again at the state conference in Winston-Salem. There is a great lineup of sessions scheduled. You can look at the conference sessions listing at: Lots of sessions that span multiple topics. Please stop by and say “Hello”!

Using Symbaloo in the Classroom

I have discovered a great way to guide the students in my music classes to use the websites that I need them to view. SymbalooEDU in combination with the DiscoveryEducation Network makes my classroom come alive! I use the Spotlight on Music series from McGraw Hill.  This is a great series, but I like to infuse real world things into the classroom.

So, I often search out YouTube videos and Discovery Education information to supplement the classroom content. When I find the right sites, I “bookmark” them using the really convenient Symbaloo browser add-on. Then I organize my tiles on Symbaloo so that my students can find them easily.

For the NC Musicians content for Grade 4, I have developed the following Symbaloo. Feel free to use it, copy it, or share it!

Symbaloo has become my new Teacher Assistant. My students can replay the videos at any time as long as they have an Internet connection. And I even use Symbaloo for the Student Links on my school’s website. Great tool!

NCMEA Conference 2012

There are so many great sessions coming up at the NCMEA Conference 2012 in Winston-Salem, NC!

The full conference schedule can be found at:

Look for my two sessions: Making Assessment Work – Technology and You and Organize Your Life! Technology Tools for Working Smarter. Both sessions will be posted here after the conference.

What does a 21st Century Music Classroom look like?

Not much different from any other music classroom. Except for the rolling metal cart with the laptop, LCD projector, iPod docking station that doubles as an amplifier, with a microphone and other sound inputs and a document reader. These tools help the 21st Century skills teacher use pdf files, mp3 files, YouTube, wikis and GarageBand in every day applications. The iPad connected to the TV is helpful, as well.

The rhythm sticks still get a lot of use, as do the guitars, Orff instruments and maracas. But, student learning is enhanced when we can go to Google Earth and look at where something is in live-time and see the topography of a country or location as we study a song.

Stay tuned for more tools from my “Every day 21st Century” classroom!

MMEA 2011 All State Conference Sessions

Thanks to those that attended my workshops at the MMEA All State Conference at USM in Gorham, Maine on Thursday and Friday. The two workshops that I presented are available for you to download and use as you need them. Please remember to link back to my blog should you use them and find them helpful! Feel free to share them with others as well.

Any questions can be directed to me at

Wikis-Blogs-GoogleDocs_May 2011

Using MIDI in the Classroom – Maine Workshop

NCMEA 2011 Conference Presenters Needed!

I’m searching for presenters for the upcoming NCMEA Conference in November 2011. I am looking for best practices by teachers from all levels K-College.

Some ideas are:

  • Innovative uses of interactive whiteboards
  • Uses of the iPad
  • Uses of the iPod Touch
  • Best practices at every level using technology
  • Vendors with great new products
  • Lesson plan sharing sessions

Know anyone? Are you able to present yourself? The deadline is March 25, 2011 HOWEVER – I will gladly accept proposals as late as April 25th. Please download a session proposal form, or email me with your ideas! Tech Conference Session Proposal Application

Virtual Worlds

I have spent the last 5 weeks exploring Second Life as my avatar Davina DaTeacher. Led by Lucas Gillespie of and the COLT online certification program, my classmates and I explored Second Life. At first I was very hesitant and unsure of why this was important to education. I had spent time in Second Life before and wandered around aimlessly. I chose to take this class, because I always like to have someone prove me wrong!

Lucas DID prove me wrong! His expert guidance gently led us through exploring NASA learning islands, to building fascinating shapes, to meeting docents at ISTE Island. We changed outfits, learned how to interact in the space, and fly. Yes, I said fly. It is a most convenient way to get around.

Schools, businesses and Universities are using Virtual World technology to teach classes, collaborate with others around the world, and develop new ways to assess and educate. The possibilities are truly endless.

My concern was with using Second Life in my day-to-day existence as an elementary school teacher. I have been guided, however, to Reaction Grid which is suitable for younger students. I will spend some time this week exploring Reaction Grid and hope for positive outcomes to share with my Technology students at school. Stay tuned!

GarageBand Session Presented Today

I will be presenting a GarageBand Session today at 2 PM in BCC North Main Hall C.

This session is not listed in the NCMEA Conference booklet. Please pass the word!

2010 NCMEA Conference

This weekend I will be presenting at the NC Music Educators Conference in Winston-Salem, NC. Please take the survey if you were an attendee at the conference.

The NCMEA 2010 sessions are available for download here:

MIDI in the Elementary Classroom Click here to take the MIDI session survey

Download the pdf version of my MIDI Workshop_c

Wikis, Blogs and Google Docs Click here to take Wiki, Blog and Google Docs survey

Download the pdf version of Wikis-Blogs-GoogleDocs

Garageband in the Elementary Classroom Click here to take the GarageBand session survey

Download the pdf version of GargageBand ’10 in the Elem Class