By Laura Gardner
Tweeting at a conference is one thing; I love to do it and always do. Rather than take notes, I tweet out what I hear, think and see. I figure I can always look back at my tweets (hello, Twitter advanced search!) and members of my PLN who can’t attend the conference will appreciate hearing what I learn. Tweeting three sessions per time slot and trying to tweet everything interesting I hear is a bit more pressure than I’m used to, but I’m glad I did it for @MassCUE at #LFL16. As one of MassCUE’s two social media ambassadors, I had a great opportunity to check out many of the different sessions at #LFL16.
Even better, I got to attend with a few other awesome teachers from my district along with our Superintendent @DrBonnyGifford, our Assistant Superintendent, our Curriculum Director and our Technology Director. Talk about administrative support for social media in our schools!
The conference started out with Caitlin Krause (@mindwise_CK) sharing how she practices mindfulness with her students and as a learner herself. We were invited to “breathe and be where we are” and to Integrate #mindfulness and #awareness into learning to “help students advance and realize limitations are just constructs.”
You could feel the educators and administrators in the room taking collective sighs of appreciation as Caitlin showed us beautiful images, invited us to join in some levity, and reflect on when we feel most present. What a great way to start the day!
The first session I made it to was Leveraging Social Media to Promote Mathematical Discourse  with Stephanie Iacadoro (@mathiacadoro) and  Ryan Hall (@rhallteach). Ryan and Stephanie have used Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate with students outside of school hours and start conversations around math.
Next I popped in on Cathy Collins (@TechGypsy11)’s session on Digital Citizenship with her fellow presenters from Sharon. Love that Cathy has high school tech mentors who travel to the middle school to talk about social media safety! What a great idea.
Plymouth Public Schools’ (@PlymouthSch) presentation, Pushing out the Positive: Plymouth’s Initiative for the Big World of Social Media was inspiring. Plymouth does an amazing job on social media sharing what students are doing in their district. We learned the importance of using photo editing apps to brand images posted on social media and how to use analytics to choose when to post for maximum outreach. Best of all? We all got cookies!
One of my favorite presentations of the day was next, Using Social Media in the Chelmsford Public Schools, which featured Dr. Matthew Beyranevand of Math with Matthew . Dr. Beyranevand (@mathwithmatthew) makes math music videos with kids that are hugely popular. The “What Does Pi Mean?” video  (to the tune of “What Does the Fox Say”) that I showed my students the following week has over 74,000 views! What a fun way to flip the classroom.
Almost lunch time, but first time to hear from Julie Cremin (@juliecremin) and Kerry Gallagher (@kerryhawk02) from St. John’s Prep about Using Social Media to Build a Collaborative School Culture , which I loved. Julie and Kerry talked about the value of posting pics of classrooms in action on social media; it builds a strong culture between teachers, students and parents. Their guidelines and advice was spot-on, too, especially the advice to create custom hashtags.
Our afternoon keynote from Mike Klein (@michaelfklein) was truly inspirational. High Tech High sounds amazing and I especially loved watching the video of students explaining their own learning; they were so confident and proud!
Next up I chose Leveraging Social Media to Enhance Professional Learning and Community Collaboration with Dr. Mario Andrade (@mariojandrade), Tom Driscoll (@Mr_Driscoll), Jared Vance (@Principal_Vance) where they reminded us that “clarity of vision and coherence matters…technology should not feel like an add on.” I was also excited to find out about two new apps in this session, Flipgrid and Seesaw, both of which can be used for students to record their learning and “make their thinking visible.”
Tina Kelly’s (@TinaKelly0182) session, Using Twitter to Curate and Distribute Content to Educators was up next where she talked about how she emails tweets to teachers, adds Twitter feeds to websites strategically and more.
Another favorite session of the day was up next with Suzy Brooks @simplysuzy and Colleen Terrill @cterrillteach from #Mashpee, Hijack a Hashtag: Harness the Power of Twitter for your District. I love their idea of a Twitter challenge (Bingo style) to get more teachers to try out Twitter.
My final session of the day was Social Media for PBL Expression and Assessment from grades 6 – 12 with presenters from Melrose. Wendy Arnold, Tom Scudder, and Joshua Cristiano showed how they promote inquiry with students by using social annotation tools like Diigo , Symbaloo , Subtext , and Hypothesis . They also gave us a huge list of tech tools for PBL , which has lots I’ve never heard of before!
All in all, #LFL16 was an awesome day filled with great ideas. I can’t wait to see what my district, #DartmouthPS, does next after attending this conference. Big thanks to @MassCUE for choosing me to be social media ambassador. I loved the experience!
Laura Gardner, @LibrarianMsG on Twitter, @DMSlibrary366 on Instagram, has been a school librarian for ten years and is Teacher Librarian and NJHS adviser at Dartmouth Middle School. A National Board Certified Teacher in Library Media, she serves on the board of MSLA and co-leads a Special Interest Group for MassCUE on MakerSpaces. She and her husband live in Fairhaven, MA with their two young children.