Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Recently, I made my annual trek to the North Carolina Technology in Education (NCTIES) conference in Raleigh.  While I did not plan the following strategy when I walked in the conference center, I ended up "immersing myself" in three main themes with three speakers presenting at the conference. Those three speakers were:  Ken Shelton, Richard Byrne and Jennifer LaGarde.  NCTIES never disappoints.  It stretches my mind and I leave feeling enriched not only by the new information, but also the collaboration with colleagues and friends. 

Ken Shelton

In reflecting on the experience, the person this year who changed my thinking the most is a man by the name of Ken Shelton.  I attended two of Shelton's sessions; one of Visual Storytelling and another on Presentation Design.   

What stood out?  The idea that we as humans gain most of our knowledge through our sense of vision, yet what do many presenters cover their presentations slides? -- Words.  I thought more about this concept and it occurred to me that during the long history of humans, the written word only makes up a small percent of our past.  Therefore, it truly makes logical sense that we are "built" to learn more from pictures and the stories they tell and inspire.

In the spirit of Mr. Shelton's idea of avoiding death by power point, I am going to try and limit my words.  I will aspire to live by  the motto of Leonardo Da Vince:  "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"

Mr Shelton said In planning a presentation, not considering your audience is like a love letter addressed to "whom it may concern". This is especially important for teachers who are often over-whelmed and sometimes close to the tipping point.  A long message or wordy presentation from me is the last thing they want or need.  It's something I have to consciously think more on...

Here are some resources about presentation design that Ken's shared in his sessions:

The next person who I stalked attended sessions with at NCTIES was Richard Byrne.  I have been a fan of Richard for some time now on twitter.  Richard is a mild mannered 33 year old twitter celebrity and Ray Romano sound-a-like from a small town in the state of Maine.  His website, ( ) is one of the hottest education sites in the country.  I attended his sessions  Best of the Web 2011/2012 as well as favorite android apps for education.  I made a symbaloo of the apps/sites that I want to investigate more. There were so many in fact that I could not even fit all of them on my symbaloo: Here are two more:   gooru for math and science, and National Archive digital Vaults

Android apps on the left in blue, and web apps in pink on the right

Last, but certainly not least is a mover & shaker and librarian extraordinaire--none other than my dear friend and colleague, Jennifer Lagarde.  Jennifer always inspires me, and one of the many things I love about Jennifer is her fierce advovacy for the librarian profession as well as her self-deprecating and humble nature.   I adore how she pleads for that child who might ordinarily "slip under the radar" but has the potential to blossom into something special.  Where does this inner strength and strong advocacy come from you might ask?  A small remark LaGarde made in one of her sessions reminds us of her humble beginnings.  LaGarde said growing up she attended more than 20 different schools and WAS that child "flying under the radar".  A tear welled up in my eye, and it was a moment of clarity for me in realizing what might actually motivate her.

LaGarde led two sessions at NCTIES.  The first was a "smack-down" with Jennifer Northrup, of Flat Rock Middle School near Hendersonville, NC.  Both shared a variety of web resources via a symbaloo:  Some of the many resources I am anxious to share with my teachers include:  class dojo, timetoast, flipsnack and Q-wiki

Jennifer LaGarde

LaGarde's next session was geared toward Librarians, but begged participants to remember that Librarians ARE teachers who are embedded in a school's instructional program and not the stereotypical "controllers of the books".  Every interaction Librarians make is a "chance to spread the gospel of Library" LaGarde said.  Check out this presentation--it is full of ideas that have the potential to inspire any school:

Finally, what was best for me was sitting in the front row after the show and listening to librarian after librarian step up to speak to LaGarde sharing their stories of successes and inspiration.  This is why we come to NCTIES!  Now what?


  1. Thank you for this wonderful posting and so glad you enjoyed my sessions.

  2. Funny, I can't get that hunting map that you showed us in the Presentation Design session out of my mind. Just proves the point that images "stick" in our brains far better than words.