Sunday, March 22, 2009

Takin' it easy...

I just returned from a 4-day trip to New Orleans. I use technology in my classroom called 'mimio' (and yes, it's supposed to be lower-case) that turns my white board interactive. It's a really cool little piece of technology, one I've been using for about 2 1/2 years now. I won the little gizmo after entering an online giveaway, so I was the first person in my school district to have one. My principal saw me using it, liked it (way cheaper than some other products I won't name {{cough}}smartboard{{cough}} and portable. Seriously portable), and ordered 4 more for our school last year. He asked me to be the trainer for mimio in our school. Toward that end, I started to take some classes offered by the company. While taking those online courses, I got to know some other teachers across the country using mimio, and got to know the mimio trainers. Long story short, (too late, received an email about a month ago, asking me to travel to New Orleans as part of mimio's teacher team, and present mimio at the the National Science Teacher's Association national conference. All expenses paid. PLUS a $200/day stipend. Jumped on it!

I've never done anything like this before. Basically, I stood up in front of anywhere from 25-50 people 3 times a day, showed them the lessons I have created using this software, and how I present/teach the content in my classroom using the hardware. There were two other teachers rotating presentations with me - one from Kansas, and one from Louisiana. We worked from 9 - 6 each day doing this. We earned our money. While we presented, the sales people for the company were working the crowds. I felt like a carnival barker. I was miked, and wore a shirt with the words 'mimio Master' on it. Pretty. Here's the one problem I had with the shirt (and they gave us 3 of them, so we had a fresh one each day), it was cotton spandex. Did I mention it was SPANDEX?? Not a good look on me - or on anyone who weighs more than 100 pounds, or who happens not to be running a 10K. anyway...

Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love this product, and highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about buying this type of technology. I'm hoping my school system eventually outfits every classroom with this. One really cool thing about our presentations - at the end of every one, we raffled off a system. Very nice. People were coming back all day, attending our sessions, just to try to win. We also did a 'secret shopper' thing, where if a person was spotted out and about in the exhibit hall sporting the giveaway tote bag, one system was awarded daily. The first day, one teacher came to every session. She was determined to win a mimio. She told us she would come back all day, every day, it that's what it took. The sales team took pity on her (after all, she paid to attend the conference - not to sit on a bench and watch the same three presentations for three days running) and 'spotted' her carrying her tote bag at the end of the day on Thursday. She still came back several times on Friday, and brought friends.

On Friday morning, I met a cute little lady from Guam who sat through my first session. Afterward, we talked for a long time. She also teaches Earth Science, and we exchanged emails. I promised to send her my list of interactive websites, and any other good stuff I had stored on my flash drives (powerpoints and such). She also wanted to win a system, but was philosophical about it. If she won, so be it - she was going back to Guam and writing grants to get the system in her classroom, regardless. She came back a couple more time that day, and watched the other two teachers present. Saturday morning, first thing, she showed up and gave me a Guam pin - told me she really liked the things I showed in my presentation, and was looking forward to sharing files with me. She also took the time to draw a beautiful beach picture on our graffitti wall. Nice lady. We talked a bit more about when we were both leaving, and she asked me when my last presentation was. She said she would try to come back and see it again. My last presentation was at 2:00, and I didn't see her in the crowd. After I was done, she came up to me, saying she was in a session and didn't get out in time. She was going to try 'one more time' to win our raffle, so was going to stay for the next teacher's presentation. While the session was going on, I talked to the marketing person for the company, and asked if I could be the secret shopper for the day. After receiving permission, I went out into the exhibit hall, and hung out. Soon, I saw my friend, and we stopped and chatted for a while about travel plans and such. I asked her how her last raffle went (I already know she didn't win), and commiserated with her about not coming away with a system. As we talked, we started walking toward the exit. I stopped suddenly and said, "Say, isn't that a mimio tote bag you're wearing?" She looked at me in shock, then fell to her knees and started to cry! O.M.G. I felt like Santa. I hauled her to her feet and escorted her back to the mimio booth where another tote bag, this time containing the system, was waiting for her. THAT was fun!

Yes, I spent time in the evenings exploring the French Quarter, eating excellent food (really helped me look better in my spandex shirt!), and walking Bourbon Street. I didn't have my camera with me most of the time, mainly because I didn't want to carry a purse while walking in all the crowds, so I don't have many pictures. I discovered two main things about New Orleans: 1) It doesn't matter that Mardi Gras if over - girls are still earning beads on Bourbon Street for baring all, and 2) That city is SURROUNDED BY WATER! What were they thinking? Don't they know that shit's gonna flood in a big storm?

All in all, an interesting trip.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Madison Moment

Mom wanted fried chicken for lunch today, and the weather is really rainy and yucky. None of us felt like going out anywhere to get food. So, I called in an order to the local greasy spoon, and went out to get chicken. Once there, I had to wait for the food (it may be a greasy spoon, but the food is pretty decent). As I sat at the counter, a young girl - maybe 12 or 13 - walked up. On the counter is a tray with pennies, and the usual "need one-take" note (y'know, for those times you don't have change, and don't want a ton of coins back). She stood there for a few minutes, picked up the little tray and looked under it, fiddled with the sign, and then -- took a penny. Yep, just took a penny, put it in her pocket, and walked back to her table.

I guess she really needed a penny, and the sign said she could have one. Wonder how many times that happens? I mean, I know the economy is bad, but seriously? Anyway, I went out in Google, trying to find an image of a penny tray to spice up this posting, and came across an advertisement for a penny cam!

I especially liked how he, as he put it, acted 'all shady and shifty' as he held his hand in the stereotypical, horizontal, gangsta gun gesture.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Very cute video

I've fallen in love with Elmo all over again!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Random Channel One Moment

I absolutely adore the kids in my Channel One class. They are hysterical, and a bright spot in my day.

Today, one of the students (a senior, and ranked about 5th in the class) stands in front of my desk and informs me, "Mrs, Lowe - I'm a Watusi. Wat-u-si is Wat-u get!"

Guess you had to be there....

Monday, March 02, 2009

How do they do this?

This act was on America's Got Talent a couple years ago. They were the halftime entertainment at the last UVA women's game. I filmed this from the jumbotron - I figure since I paid for a ticket, it was OK to film. Right? OK, I'm sure I'm violating some kind of copyright here, but whatever....

If someone knows how they do this - I'd appreciate an explanation.