Category Archives: Conference

Time to Register for the 2014 eMINTS Conference!

It is that time of year again, when educators from near and far make plans to attend the annual eMINTS National Center Conference.  This exciting event takes place Feb 26-Feb 28 at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia, MO and is designed for anyone who is passionate about learning, teaching, and connecting with technology.


If you have never before attended this conference, please accept this invitation.

eMINTS teachers, trainers, technicians, and administrators  are looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. They are preparing session workshops and designing their materials, selecting activities, resources and choosing strategies that can be taken back and used by participants almost immediately and in practically any learning environment.

The Keynote speakers will be Dr. Alex Repenning – “‘Excuse me, I need better Artificial Intelligence!‘ Igniting Students’ Intrinsic Math Motivation through Game Design” and Dr. Wesley Fryer – “Mapping Media to the Common Core”.

There are also two brand new opportunities that take place during the conference this year.  On Wednesday afternoon, there is a pre-conference 2.5 hour session called the “eMINTS Academy”.  During this session, eMINTS Instructional Specialists will be showcasing several custom PD offerings.  Actual activities from those recent and upcoming sessions will be delivered to participants.

On Wednesday and Thursday evening, the eMINTS community will gather to have the very first Camp eMINTS”.  This event will have a guest speakers, group sharing, games and resources that will be sure to allow attendees to help build professional relationships.

Both the eMINTS Academy and Camp eMINTS are free!

To register and find more information, visit

Doug Caldwell, EdS, is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

My Conference Highlights #emints

While back in the office reflecting on this past week, I must admit I was sad to see the eMINTS National Conference come to an end. All of the presentations I attended were really excellent and truly inspiring.  If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, I highly encourage you make it next year. Conferences always tend to re-spark my love of education — I leave with so many fresh ideas and tools, it would be impossible to share them all in one blog post. We promise to share these great ideas, tools and more with you in this blog over the next few months but, for now, here are my top four moments from the conference:


  • PictureThursday Keynote Speaker, Ken Shelton: Ken spoke about “Generation Now”, focusing on three themes: Information Literacy, Digital Citizenship, and Publication and Collaboration. Not only was his presentation informative, his slides were beautifully designed and well thought out. A hot topic of the conference came from this session when Ken brought up “selfies”, sharing a video spoof on Instagram to remind students that, once you post a photo online, it’s out there and there is no going back.  For those who don’t know, a “selfie” is a picture taken of yourself that is usually intended to be uploaded to a social networking site.
  • Friday Keynote Speaker, Howie DiBlasi: Dr. Howie went over the habits of highly effective 21st century classrooms, at one point posing the question of whether we were ready for the next generation of students. His presentation was fast-paced and fun, sharing many inspirational videos and current tools to help us prepare students for the changing world we live in. His presentation inspired some great ideas for future blog posts on building 21st century skills, so keep checking back for this in the next couple weeks.
  •  Falling Falling, Falling (A Model Lesson): This session was discussed in the last post, so I won’t go into too much detail at this time — but this was one of my favorite sessions of the conference. Doug Caldwell and Glen Westbroek presented a model eMINTS lesson with the session attendees as the students. We got to set up tracks of dominos and record how fast they fell, based on various factors. It was super neat to see, from the student perspective, how current online tools can be used in a hands-on lesson that promotes real-world thinking and uses the eMINTS instructional model. A big bonus of this session is that they provided everything you need to implement this lesson in your own classroom via a LiveBinder, which you can access here.
  • QR codes and the Four C’s: One of the last sessions on Friday, I ‘d consider this to be one of the more energetic sessions I attended. Shelly Tarter gave us an interactive presentation on QR codes and how they can be used with the 4 C’s of education:  Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. We got hands-on experience using QR codes, learned the difference between static and dynamic QR codes, and brainstormed possible uses in groups — all while having fun. You could tell this presentation was a favorite by how the conversation continued long after it ended.  Shelly put together a great Weebly site for this presentation, which you can view here.

These were only a few of my favorite moments of the conference, but every attendee had a different schedule with a different experience. Question: What were some the highlights of your own 2013 eMINTS Conference experience?

[This post was provided by Zoe Hyatt, an instructional developer for the eMINTS National Center and eLearning for Educators.]

Why you should register for the 2013 eMINTS Annual Conference…

“The eMINTS conference is the best opportunity there is to find out what kinds of new and exciting things eMINTS teachers are doing in their classrooms! How often do like-minded people that share similar resources get to really think out of the box? It is a time for rejuvenation for me!!”      -Allison Byford (PD4ETS Graduate)

“I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new out there and discussing with other teachers how classrooms are changing from traditional learning to collaborative problem solving.”     – Klista Reynolds (Veteran eMINTS Teacher and PD4ETS Graduate)

“I am excited to learn about new resources that I can share with other teachers on how to better prepare when implementing Common Core State Standards that require the use of technology.  I hope I learn about new websites and tools that will help with this implementation.”  -Tysha Roughton (Veteran eMINTS Teacher)

Many education and technology conferences are expensive, running over a thousand dollars (or more!) per person — money most of us just don’t have to spare. Not only that, many take place out of state and in large cities, which can significantly add to the cost to attend. Despite this barrier, it is important that teachers, technology specialists and administrators are able to attend professional development conferences like these.  Lucky for us, there are more affordable options and one of them is right here in central Missouri.

The eMINTS Annual Conference welcomes all educators and takes place each year in Columbia, Missouri, with the 2013 conference fast approaching, running from February 27 – March 1, with registration closing soon, on January 25. For those that don’t know, the eMINTS National Center is a non-profit organization that has offered quality professional development programs for K-20 educators since 1999. They’ve reached classrooms all over the country and even have participants as far away as Australia. While it’s highly recommended to participate in the full eMINTS program for the most rewarding experience, those on a budget can get a taste of the program at the annual conference, which takes place over three days and offers various price options for those who wish to attend all (or part) of the conference.

If you are still unsure on whether to attend, you should take a look at the full conference schedule ahead of time. The eMINTS crew has some enriching sessions planned for this years conference and are welcoming two phenomenal leaders in education as keynote speakers. On Thursday, February 28, Ken Shelton brings us the keynote presentation called Generation NOW: 21st Century learning. This interactive keynote will be exploring ways that current digital resources “can foster increasing degrees of engagement from a teaching, learning, and creating perspective”. Then, on Friday March 1, the keynote speaker will be Dr. Howie DiBlasi with Building Better Teachers: Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Classrooms, which focuses on “the most important ingredient of a great education: effective teachers”. For more information on the keynote speakers and their conference sessions, check out the full description of each session on the conference website.

In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference schedule is full of sessions for all interests, tackling various 21st century teaching topics, technology and tools. Some of the topics featured include:  Backwards Design, Collaboration, Edmodo, Inquiry, Apps, iPads, Google, Twitter, SMART Notebooks, and much more. View the full schedule online for detailed descriptions of all the sessions and workshops taking place throughout the conference.

I think that the most appealing aspect of the conference is that almost all of the speakers and participants are real eMINTS teachers who’ve seen real results. It’s an anticipated yearly event where all these great minds come together to share their wisdom and insights with those who attend. Learning is a lifelong skill and conferences like the eMINTS Annual Conference provide opportunities to expand your knowledge and further develop your skills as an educator, allowing for that exchange of information to flourish outside of individual classrooms and school districts and to reach educators all over the world. If you are interested in attending, you should act now — registration closes next Friday, January 25th.

For more information or to register for the eMINTS Annual conference, please visit the conference website or

eMINTS Conference Now Accepting Presentation Proposals

Are you looking for ways to network with other educators and harvest ideas to take back to your district? Join the learning at the eMINTS Conference! We are now accepting proposals for 1-hour and 2-hour presentations at the 14th annual conference to be held in Columbia, MO February 26 – 28, 2014. Come and casino jameshallison share the amazing things you and your district are doing!

Call for presentations open through October 11, 2013

  • Hands-on and/or participant involvement are strongly encouraged.
  • One presenter per accepted presentation proposal receives free registration for the 2014 eMINTS conference.
  • Certified eMINTS instructional specialists can earn 2 re-certification units by presenting at the eMINTS conference.
  • Notification of acceptance – mid-October 2013


For more information about the conference go to:

eMINTS Conference: Session 2 (Friday)

Design Patterns 2.0

Our good friend Bernie Dodge presents on how the best WebQuests are those built around tasks that resemble the authentic work that people do outside of school. Design patterns provide us with a way to describe that work and make it easier to create WebQuests that better prepare our students for life. This session will be the world premier (since yesterday’s session) of a new set of design patterns that will kick lessons up a notch.

Journals, Blogs and Wikis to Enhance Reading and Writing

Presenter Denis Knight provides participants an opportunity to gain a better understanding of various web-based instructional opportunities to use to enhance reading and writing skills. Participants learn how to use online journals, blogs and wikis to develop innovative ways to not only communicate with students, but provide an avenue for creative written expression. Teachers can generate online journals for students to reflect on classroom activities; blogs for addressing constructive response questions and article reviews to address reading comprehension. Participants learn to create a classroom wiki to provide opportunities for interactive discussion and peer evaluation. When used with appropriate assessments, these online sources can give teachers the flexibility to use internet sites as a way to move from the paper and pencil past to a new and exciting learning experience.

Personalize Your PD

Presenter Stephanie Madlinger helps teachers expand and take ownership of professional learning by creating a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Having a PLN allows one to learn and share with others around the world, 24/7. A PLN is a reciprocal network created and based on your interests and needs. Generate multiple opportunities to learn from, connect with, gather information and resources, then create and share with people like you. Participants learn which online tools to use to personalize their own PD. They explore online learning communities like Google Groups and SchoolTown; social networks like Facebook and Twitter; and social bookmarking like Delicious and Diigo.

Put Some WOW into Your Website

Krissy Venosdale of Hillsboro R-3 School District helps teachers explore ways to use the classroom website to enhance the learning environment. Using various Web 2.0 tools, sprucing up certain areas of one’s site, and encouraging interaction on the classroom site will enhance learning both in and out of the classroom. Digital portfolios, online projects, and weekly contests can all be used to engage students in a site and most of all, in learning.

Class, get out your cell phones please for bellwork. Seriously!

Presenter Roger Brallier of Mexico Public Schools help participants learn how to use cell phone technology to add an extra spark to bell work or preassessment in the classroom. Roger demonstrates how to reduce “under the table texting” and unlock the power of the cell phone (which may be greater than some of our older computers). Additionally, participants learn the basics of “Poll Everywhere” – a free online tool that shows real time results using the texting feature of a cell phone. Even without a phone, one can still use a webpage link.

The Flipped Classroom Approach in an eMINTS Classroom

Presenter Melody Paige of Monett School District presents a flipped classroom approach that entails “flipping” instruction in which students watch and listen to lectures for homework or at other non-instructional times. This gives learners control to pause or rewind lessons for understanding. Precious class time is then used for what typically was done as homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, creating, collaborating and researching. The concept is simple; but how does one make the “flipped” approach work in the real classroom? What software is needed? In this session, teachers watch videos of this concept in action and provide many resources for creating flipped content. There are many free completed lessons and videos ready for use in the classroom.

2012 eMINTS Conference: Google Docs in the Classroom

If you missed eMINTS Conference 2012, that means you also missed a great breakout session, Google Docs in the Classroom, presented by Google Certified Teacher, Stephanie J. Madlinger, Ed.S. Stephanie guided participants through everything from utilizing Google’s URL shortener,, to collecting and organizing information from multiple individuals with Google forms.

When sharing Google documents or presentations, up to ten collaborators may work on the online file simultaneously; up to 50 may work concurrently on Google spreadsheets. Of course, as owner of a Google Doc, you determine what stays private, what is shared, and what permissions collaborators are granted. A tool that was new to many participants was Google Drawings. Need to create a diagram? You can do that with Google Drawings as well!

One of the best features of Google resources is that they are all free! Whether you need email for your students or collaborative docs to can access anytime anywhere, Google has the tool. Google in Education provides a nice overview.

Bottom line: it seems like there is now a Google Doc for everything! What are your hunches about how students and teachers might use Google Docs? If you need some ideas, check out Google Docs for Educators.
Stephanie graciously agreed to share her presentation resources with all of you. It’s no surprise that they’re all organized in a Google Doc!

Thank you, Stephanie!

Debbie Perkins is an eMINTS Instructional Specialist.

eMINTS Conference: Session 1 (Friday)

How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices

Featured speaker Bonnie Davis facilitates this interactive talk, focusing on examining one’s cultural lens and learning strategies to improve the academic achievement of ALL students. Davis discusses culturally responsive instruction with an emphasis on students “who don’t look like you.” Beginning with an examination of one’s cultural lens, she leads participants through reflection and collegial conversation.

Using brain-based instructional strategies, Bonnie explores how to create a classroom community that honors every voice. Participants learn her award-winning strategies to engage all students to improve their academic achievement across the disciplines.

This presentation is based on material on Davis’s book, How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies.

SMART Board 800

Presenter Laura Brockman of SMART Technologies demonstrates how collaborative learning becomes an extraordinarily natural experience with the SMART Board® 800 series interactive whiteboard. Two people can instantly work together anywhere on the surface at the same time using either their fingers or a pen. This interactive whiteboard also features a multiuser Pen Tray with buttons that make it easy for users to switch ink color, right-mouse click and bring up the On-Screen Keyboard.

Google Forms = Easy Online Quizzes!

Suzanne Stillwell of Hallsville School District facilitates participants developing their own free online quizzes and surveys to use with their students. Participants see how to use Google Forms to create simple quizzes and surveys. The form can be easily embedded in a teacher webpage so that students can complete the quiz without having to have a Google account. There is even a script called Flubaroo that can be added to collect, grade and analyze the results!

Gaga for Gaggle

Presenter Diane McCormack of Affton School District demonstrates the tools available to classrooms through Gaggle and develops ideas of how to integrate it into lessons. An overview of the capabilities of Gaggle, what makes it safe for the classroom, and ways it can be integrated into learning are part of this presentation. Gaggle contains email, blog, profile page, message board, homework drop box, digital locker and collaborative writing space. The program is set up to meet the unique needs of classrooms and can be customized by each district.

Student and Class Created e-books

Cathie Loesing (eMINTS National Center) is back to show participants how easy it is to create ebooks and share ideas for classroom use. Creating books in the classroom to support developing reading skills, to share learning and as a component of writing instruction is not a new idea. However, eBooks make sharing those projects easier and more rewarding than ever.

Friday keynote – The Power of Student-Made Questions Bernie Dodge

From the conference description…

The air in school is filled with questions. They’re asked by teachers, they’re found on tests, they’re written on the white board. The most powerful questions, though, are those that come from students themselves. How can we use technology to encourage, organize and improve student-generated questions? We’ll offer some practical suggestions.

Inquiry is a key piece in the eMINTS instructional model. So, Bernie’s talk on student-generated questions is right up our alley. He begins with the idea of the ideal classroom versus one situated to only respond to a teacher’s question. Participants reveal visions that match our model as well of student activity and engagement. Bernie’s talk covers student-generated questions, something new called the Questions Formulation Technique, WonderPoints, WHex, CircuitBoard Games, WebQuests vs SGO, and so what?

Bernie adds a new book to add to everyone’s reading list: Make Just One Change. From the book, Bernie latches onto the idea of teaching kids to generate their own questions; this one simple shift is all we have to do. The authors of the book have established the Right Question Institute. The technique they promote is to establish a question focus, including rules for generating questions. Have students generate questions, categorize between open and closed questions, improve the generated questions, and prioritize those questions.

Bernie demonstrates a process in which questions are acknowledged, lists of questions are compiled, lists are refined and questions are categorized as open vs. closed. Then, students experiment to see how questions can be altered. Once this process is started, it builds on itself.

Bernie introduces Project nGage, promoting smartphone use in schools. His student teachers in Sand Diego use smartphones in the classroom as do their students. Bernie makes a clear distinction that these smartphones are not to deliver learning. Rather, their purpose is to help create an environment for learninng to take place. The idea is to think of them as advanced devices for taking in information, not delivering it.

This initiative is developing an app called WonderPoints where students identify location and boundaries, recording all kinds of data. Students can use the app to post questions for discussion.

Even with such a great tool, open-ended wonder is a hard sell. As with anything in education, it’s an easier to sell when there are boundaries. So, the easy fix is for teachers to limit what students do with these great mobile tools by simply narrowing the questioning focus on particular topics.

Overall, it’s great to have Bernie back once again. We look forward to seeing him at future conferences!

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.

eMINTS Conference: Session 4 (Thursday)

Return of the Speed Geekers!

eMINTS National Center staff Doug Caldwell, Ruth Henslee, Jen Foster, Amy Blades and Brooke Higgins lead this fast-paced and exciting session. Participants benefit from the knowledge of others in the field and walk away with a plan for incorporating 2.0 tools in meaningful ways. Workshop participants view actual, practical and rich examples of online technology tools and hear about implementation strategies used to enhance communication, collaboration, and cognitive thinking. The workshop’s activities are delivered in a “speed-geeking” format. Five stations are set up and participants rotate through each station in timed intervals.

Beyond Blogs and Wikis: Technology Tools for the Writing Classroom

Kerry Townsend presents how teachers of writing will learn new ways in which the collaborative writing process can be taught in the modern, technology-enhanced classroom. Web-based applications such as Google Tools, Twitter, Evernote, Prezi and Weebly are discussed as well as AV software and tools such as iPads/iPods, webcams, document cameras, Audacity, iMovie, etc.

Student and Class Created e-books

Cathie Loesing of the eMINTS National Center shows participants how easy it is to create ebooks and share ideas for classroom use. Creating books in the classroom to support developing reading skills, to share learning and as a component of writing instruction is not a new idea. However, eBooks make sharing those projects easier and more rewarding than ever. See how you and your students can use a free online program to create and share e-books that may be read on smart phones, iPads and other eReaders.

SMART Notebook Math Tools

Laura Brockman from SMART Technologies helps participants create, explore and evaluate math concepts with SMART Notebook™ Math Tools. This add-on to SMART Notebook collaborative learning software combines all the tools you need to teach math concepts and solve equations in a single application. It keeps everything at your fingertips, so you can easily incorporate shapes, measurement tools, graphs and tables into lesson activities.