Viva Las Vegas! Teachers Pay Teachers Conference 2014July 14, 2014
I returned late last night to Philadelphia after spending a long weekend in Las Vegas attending the very first Teachers Pay Teachers conference. For those of you who couldn't attend or egads!, are totally in the dark about TPT, read on for the highlights.
The morning began at 8am with some words from TPT's Amy, Paul, & John as well as TPT's #1 seller, Deanna Jump, who shared her inspirational story about how TPT changed life for her and her family as well as the importance of quantity, not quality (we know you meant it the other way around).
My first session was Copyrights and Copywrongs: An Intellectual Property Primer for TPT Sellers with Jenn Kelley, TPT's copyright expert, and Amanda Nickerson, a TPT seller. Jenn started out by defining some basic terms: copyright, trademark, fair use, licenses, permissions, takedowns and putbacks. Learned a few things. Fair use in the classroom is not the same as fair use for selling on TPT. Even though things are automatically copyrighted once they are recorded, I should be putting a copyright symbol on my resources to reinforce that idea (sigh, more cleaning of store). Googling yourself or setting a Google alert for your name is a good way to check on if/how others are using your work. Finally, Google images can be filtered for images that allow for free usage (yay!).
Session #2 was Capture Common Core Completely with Julie Faulkner, a secondary English TPT seller. Her resource includes information on essential questions as well as a lesson planning checklist for Common Core. This session was a must attend for me as I have been working to align my teaching resources with the Common Core Standards for the past two years, and while it is a hot topic, it is also a topic surrounded by significant misinformation. The focus of Julie's presentation was that resources that are truly Common Core aligned should be complex & challenging, involve collaboration & communication, and prepare students to be college & career ready.
To ensure that lessons meet that first objective, being complex and challenging, AND meet Common Core standards, Julie suggested identifying the verbs in the standards in each lesson and then matching those verbs with Bloom's Taxonomy or Webb's Depth of Knowledge. As you plan your lesson, you will know if your activities meet the standards and hit those Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). Julie has even done the work for you with an alignment checklist product for ELA 9-10 and 11-12.
Julie used two lessons on propaganda to demonstrate the difference in complexity and challenge before and after aligning lessons to the Common Core. Before Common Core, Julie would have her students look through magazines for examples of propaganda and then create a scrapbook of their examples; this met low level verbs on Webb's Depth of Knowledge like collect and display. After Common Core, Julie created an activity called Junk Wars, which asked the students to create a purpose for an unknown object, create a commercial for this new product using propaganda techniques, and then present the commercial to classmates for peer evaluation; this meets high level verbs like create, design, and critique. HOTS, HOTS, HOTS.
Junk Wars is also a perfect example of increased collaboration and communication, the second objective in preparing Common Core aligned resources. Project based learning, like Junk Wars, and task cards can help to create purposeful academic talk in the classroom. As a seller, Julie suggested including teacher dialogue and/or question stems in your Teacher's Guide (a must for any product on TPT, again, more store cleaning for me). Including suggested responses helps other teachers to know what you were thinking as you planned the lesson.
To prepare students to be college and career ready, the third objective, lessons must help students to develop the traits of responsibility, accountability, perseverance, and ownership. Students are willing to do more when lessons have a real world or personal connection for students. For example, Julie suggested allowing students to select their own research topic.
After a lunch break, it was on to session three, Products for Middle and High School: Making Sensational, Successful Secondary Creations, with Michele Luck (Jennifer Smith-Sloane had a last minute emergency). Michele's main points were to create a brand, offer complete products, give clear descriptions, create for secondary, and appeal to teens. Learning how to do the html for the links to include in my descriptions is now on my to do list, but I know I can find help in the Seller's Forum. Michele, like Jenn and Amanda, urged flattening and securing your resources so they can't be lifted and resold by someone else. Michele had her whole store basically stolen that way, yikes! And I learned how to make a cool foldable! Also on to do list, learn how to make more cool foldables.
My final session of the day was Ready, Set, Grow: Accelerate Your Store's Success with Erin Cobb. Erin's TPT story was just as amazing as Deanna's and while all of the sessions allowed me to reflect on my store and my products, Erin's presentation really pulled it all together for me. Step #1 to ready, set, grow is to find your magic ingredient. Erin explained how to look at how to just your time most effectively. Step #2 is to polish your store front. Step #3 is to increase exposure. Well here I am doing that with my very first blog post. Build it and they will come. Blog it and they will read, hopefully :) I can't wait to check out the CD of goodies Erin gave out at the session (see teacher swag below).
I met so many dedicated and professional educators at the conference. If only I had thought to make business cards to exchange with everyone I met so we could stay in touch. I received lots of cards and gave out my email address and store name as much as possible. My only other disappointment is that they didn't announce the date and location of next year's TPT conference. Hopefully it is in a city just as fun as Vegas!