Wrap-up from CUE 2013: The Power of the Speaker

CUE 2013 has had two very different keynote speakers. The Thursday evening keynote was Catlin Tucker, currently an in-the-classroom teacher. Friday morning's keynote was Sir Ken Robinson, a well- known, international keynote speaker. Despite their differences, they had one thing in common: both were compelling, thought provoking speakers, at times witty, at times poignant.

Catlin began her keynote by letting the audience know that she does not have a high-tech room of opportunities. Yet, she is not letting that limit her and her students. She wove a story of her classroom with peer editing, four-corner conversations, blogging, vocabulary building, and more. Her stories were authentic stories and well-received by the audience —who knew that she understood what it's like to be "in the trenches." We need more "in-classroom" teachers sharing!

Jump forward about 14 hours to Sir Ken Robinson.

I enjoy Sir Ken Robinson, if for no other reasons than (1) he breaks every rule of how to present and (2) the way he allows words to flow.

When I say break every rule, what I mean is he stands in one spot, with no slides/pictures/presentation behind him, and speaks for over one hour. Yet, pretty much every single moment is enjoyable.

He reminded us that this is an exciting time for education.

He reminded us that we cannot resent growing older because it is a luxury denied to many.

He reminded us that the mark of a great teacher is being prepared to say, "I don't know? What do you think?"

Both Catlin and Sir Ken were very qualified, enjoyable, and thought provoking keynotes, both had people twittering their comments, nodding heads in agreement, and both left the audience with good thoughts to think.

Sir Ken is polished, professional, and well known. Catlin is personable, genuine, and just beginning as a keynote speaker.

Personally, I enjoyed each very much.

Catlin Tucker wasn't the only educator sharing stories at CUE. A common thread of the entire conference was the importance of storytelling, for both the teacher and the student. Why is storytelling important? It's having your voice travel much further than just the four walls of your classroom. It's sharing your triumphs and failures and day-to-day occurrences so others can learn from you. Most of all perhaps, it's unlocking the power of imagination, vocabulary building, and creative writing.

So often, we forget to take the time to tell a story, to listen to a story, to learn from a story.

Of course, there were a variety of devices, apps, and examples of ways that you can tell your story -- but they took a back seat to the importance of making sure your story is told.

Here are links to handouts, examples, and opportunities, from some of the presenters at CUE 2013, to help you and your students as you tell your story.

The Power Of The Story
Kami Thordarson --

Roger Pencee
Digital Story Telling

Brandon Wislocki
Digital Story Telling with Google Voice

Telling Our Digital Story
Trish d'Entremont, Janet Ilko

Digital Writing With Digital Kids
Joe Wood

Digital Story Telling from Pre Production to Post Production
Sarah Trueblood-Luke

Jennifer Wagner, creator of ProjectsByJen, has been helping teachers since 1999 to use online projects in their PreK-6 classrooms. Read more at www.projectsbyjen.com.