Oops! and Skype is Sneaky

I’m at a VISTA supervisor training in Dallas, and I completely forgot to blog.  Sorry!  I’ve met so many fascinating people and have lots to report.

One barrier to reporting this, besides full days of sessions and an evening out in Dallas was that Firefox was running funny, and I couldn’t understand why.  I finally figured out thanks to Felipe that when I installed Skype, it automatically/sneakily included a buggy Firefox add-on.  Shame on Skype for sliding that one under the table, and further shame for doing so with something that hurt my web-browsing.

More soon!

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Summer Institute: Quick Reflection

Summer Institute is over and I’m back home in the Twin Cities.

Looking back at the conference, I realize just how valuable it was to me in terms of content and networking.

This was largely to do with the conference itself, but also because I did some things right to maximize my experience:
– took obsessive notes
– kept my papers as organized as possible
– slept enough
– wore comfortable shoes
– was open to serendipitous socializing

There are those attitudes, soft skills, and environmental supports we say our students need. We need them too!

I’m looking forward to processing more this weekend. I’ll post more about the conference in some form and also go on to more “normal” posts on Monday.

Summer Institute: Teaching Personal Finance

I’ve got about an hour until dinner, so I’ll take this opportunity to let you know what I’ve been up to at Summer Institute.

I’ve attended three sessions, one “collective-intelligence” gathering, and two plenaries.  This post will be about the first of the three sessions.

Action Plans for Making Dollars Count

My first thought was wow, this is a lot of information in a short amount of time.  This suited my needs well since one of my upcoming projects is to write a 2-week Advanced ESL unit on Personal Finance.  The presentation was a quick, perhaps even rushed overview of a financial literacy curriculum (Dollar Works 2) with tons of examples, teaching plans, activities, forms, and things to consider while teaching in this subject area.  Perfect for me.

I wish we could have gotten farther into cultural concerns, though they did recommend several resources for a more in-depth look at how  cultures that aren’t American majority culture view money:

That’s it!  Some networking just presented itself, so the blogging will commence later.

Summer Institute – Plenaries

I’ve got about an hour until dinner, so I’ll take this opportunity to let you know what I’ve been up to at Summer Institute.

I’ve attended three sessions, one “collective-intelligence” gathering, and two plenaries.

I’ll start by talking about the plenaries.  They were in the banquet hall and were always scheduled directly after a meal.  As a result, there were always plates, food, and other stuff on them that precluded comfortable (therefore any) note-taking.  So my take-away is not very detailed.  Here it is:

The first plenary presenter was by Dr. Irwin Kirsch from ETS.  He talked about America’s Perfect Storm.  The report is here.  They also have a 9-minute video that didn’t really come up on Google, which I think is an oversight on their part.  The talk was based on that video, which was about how three factors are happening in America at the same time and are leading slowly but surely to a crisis: the changing economy, changing demographics, and the nonresponsive education system.  Interesting.  Some of my questions include how ETS’s interests as a company factor into this and how things are changing as the recession continues.

The second plenary presenter was Barry Shaffer from the Minnesota Department of Education and talked about the economic climate in Minnesota and the amazing accomplishments we’ve all made this year in Adult Basic Education (ABE).  We rock, and he proved it with numbers.  Thanks, Barry.

It was great that these very important people (who I couldn’t help but notice were men talking to a room that was comprised of at least 85% women) came to talk to us about very important issues.  They were effective speakers who had a lot to share.  It struck me as strange that there wasn’t a bigger effort to up the environment so that people’s backs weren’t toward the speaker and there were clean, or at least cleared off tables to write or type on.

It’s funny how much the little things impact the big things.

I’ll talk about the sessions and collective intelligence gathering in near-future posts!

Please Close Your Laptop

I have to go to bed soon, but I wanted to quick note a challenge that I faced in my diligent note-taking that surprised me.

I was at a presentation at which laptops were provided because part of the agenda was to have us explore a particular online course. I decided to just use that computer for my notes instead of the one I brought.

So I popped it open and started myself a word document. I happily took notes for a few minutes, then we did an interactive activity. When we came back and were regrouping, I opened up the laptop to get ready to take more notes. The presenter came over and very kindly and with no edge at all asked me to keep it closed because they were going to start again.

When I said I was using it to take notes, she thought for a beat or two and then said ok. I kept it closed anyway though. I thought that despite whatever assumptions she had made about what I was doing on the computer that she treated me with respect, and the best way I could think to repay that respect was to not be on the computer while she was talking.

But as a result, my notes are less detailed and much less accessible to me. I’ll need to spend some time keying them in.

Is this a common phenomenon? And how do you feel when you’re presenting to people while they are actively using laptops?

Summer Institute!

Summer Institute 2009 Program Cover
Summer Institute 2009 Program Cover

This is a place-holder just to let you know that I’m planning on blogging about Summer Institute, a major Minnesota conference in Adult Basic Education, that runs this afternoon through Friday afternoon.

It’s my first time ever at this annual conference, and I’m very excited about the people I’ll meet and the ideas I’ll come back with.

My plan is to type my notes, blog, and be on Twitter during the conference.  I’ve never done this before either, but at other conferences I either sit there thinking about paying attention and therefore not really paying attention, or I take great notes and promptly lose them.

I’m planning to put links to related blog posts and other materials in this post for readers’ bookmarking convenience, and because I like information hubs.

Here’s to trying new things, and let’s get started!

Entries:

Please Close Your Laptop
Summer Institute: Plenaries
Summer Institute: Teaching Personal Finance

Summer Institute: Quick Reflection

Sharing The Power

My thoughts on today’s conference are actually pretty brief:

The best presentations align their content, structure, and facilitation.  In other words, they demonstrate what they teach.

A corollary:

Saying “Don’t say things over and over again in the same way!” over and over again in the same way is a little ridiculous.

That is all.