Saturday, October 17, 2009

Promethean Training San Francisco

The alarm went off waaaaay too early for a Saturday morning, and I found myself blinded by the rising sun in my rear view mirror as I headed up to The City (that's San Francisco for you non-Bay Area friends) to O'Connell High School for a Promethean training conference.

I arrived in time to check in, pick up my pre-printed name tag and stylish Promethean-orange gym bag full of goodies, and select my breakout sessions. Well, that took slightly longer than it should have. This interesting lady must have had an earlier morning than mine. Based on the glazed look on her face, I don't think she was being pushy, I suspect that in her altered mindset she just didn't see me 2 steps away from the table. She stood in front of the sign in sheet I wanted for several minutes, gazing as if analyzing the effect of the black ink and white paper on the orange tablecloth, writing nothing, then turned around, gave me a Luna Lovegood-esque smile, and wandered along to get in someone else's path.

The bag full of goodies was nice, but mean. A USB drive (4G, baby!) with all of the day's presentations, a cheap-looking pen that writes really well, a folder with maps and schedules and such, a lanyard to hold our ActivPens (remember my earlier post about the, and (drumroll please), an ActivExpression device. What? Really? They're GIVING us one of these? Wait, why are they only giving us one? Are we supposed to use it today and then give it back? As these thoughts of wonderment raced through my head, my greedy paws reached down, rummaging through to get a firm fingers grasped the device...

...and sank about 1/8th of an inch into the soft rubber foam.

My heart sank, and I'm sure someone with a hidden camera was laughing at my look of dismay as I discovered that no, Promethean was not struck by a sudden sense of generosity (that would come later), but rather had given us stress-ball-like things in the SHAPE of the ActivExpression devices (seriously, if you haven't clicked the link yet, check it out. These things are amazing!).

Still, the USB drive and the pen and the bag were pretty cool, and I was glad to see that they printed out as few things as possible. Smart people.

After a super-healthy carb-and-sugar breakfast of my favorite type of donut (maple-glazed old-fashioned), my favorite bagel (blueberry with strawberry jam), and some decent decaf coffee with real milk (bless these people!), I made my way into the general session and sat in the back with some other people from my district.

It's a good thing we were sitting in the back, because...well...I'll let my twitter posts tell you.

Wow. They just started the mood music. Please let this be a joke!about 11 hours ago from txt
#promethean it doesn't sound like a joke...about 11 hours ago from txt
#promethean the mood music is still going! I wonder if this guy brings the pianist to classroom...about 11 hours ago from txt
#promethean this should have ended 2O minutes ago. At least. Is he this self-aggrandizing in his classroom?about 11 hours ago from txt
#promethean this guy has no problem complimenting himself. Okay, you made a difference. Great. Now teach us something!about 11 hours ago from txt
#promethean this music makes me feel like i'm on hold...about 11 hours ago from txt
#promethean he's done! The whole message was "you touch lives. Don't give up." thanks, i didn't know that!about 11 hours ago from txt

Now, that's not the whole story (check my twitter feed for that), but it is the reason why it's a REALLY good thing we were sitting in the back. It was hard to keep from giggling! I did enjoy seeing the multimedia magazine his class produced, and the presentation gave me some ideas of things I could do with my own students.

When the keynote speaker was done with his Hallmark card, we went to our breakout sessions. Having suffered through two years of BTSA, I appreciated the simplicity of this conference: we went to a total of two breakout sessions, 2 hours each, and learned enough information to be useful but not so much that we were completely overwhelmed. No stupid activities, no patronizing or time-wasting presenters, just information and guided practice. In my first session, I learned how to use three of the slightly-more-complicated features of the software. The second session focused on the design of our classroom presentations (like a PowerPoint slideshow, only WAY better). It was led by the keynote speaker, and I was a little dubious after his silliness that morning, but it turned out to be informative and helpful. The first hour saw instruction and examples, and the second hour was help creating our own flipcharts. I learned that I can make 3-D slideshows. How cool is that?

The final session was a demonstration of super-cool features and devices followed by the afore-mentioned generosity. They raffled off technology stuff, including a class set of ActivExpression devices, which one of the Tech people from my district won! I was sitting right beside her, so I'm first on the list to borrow it :D

The conference was a lot of fun! They used the Giants - A's rivalry (this is the 20th anniversary of when the two teams played each other in the World Series) and had us each select a team to support. Most of us came dressed in our team colors, which eliminated the need for stupid ice-breakers. Of course, the balance was tipped toward the Giants, considering that the Promethean color is orange (and the Giants are a better team!). I learned some new skills, got the seeds of new ideas, and am ready to go improve my own instruction.

Yay for the Promethean!

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