Hey y'all! This week I had the pleasure of attending the Happy Go Teach conference in Houston, lead by Kayla Delzer (Top Dog Teaching) and Jen Jones (Hello Literacy). It was an experience like none other!

First off, this trip was provided by a very generous donation through Donors Choose. If you haven't used Donors Choose before, it's definitely worth your time to check it out. Basically, you post a project you need for your classroom but don't have the funding for and people can make donations towards your project. I've had a couple of projects funded this way and it really is a game changer!

Now, about the conference…

I really had no idea what to expect when I got there. I mean, I'd seen some pictures and videos on Instagram and I'd looked through the conference website a few times, but as far as what was really supposed to happen, I had no idea. And then there's this whole talking to people I don't know business, which was a whole other issue in itself. But you meet people and you go to the photo booth together and it's all good. (I even ran into someone I used to teach with several years ago. Who knew?)

The day was absolutely PACKED with actual strategies and learning experiences to use in the classroom right away. We started the day with a model morning meeting, presented by Kayla. We were up and moving and acting like volcanos and coconuts! I couldn't wait to share these games and ideas with my own students when I got back and they loved every minute of it!

Kami Butterfield (Teaching with Appitude) presented about paperless classrooms and how she transformed her students' learning. She had so many amazing ideas and strategies, it made me want to run to my principal and beg for 1 to 1 iPads. And all of the apps she shared were completely FREE! If you've never heard Kami present, she's amazing—funny, fast, and fantastic! That woman gets a workout in when she talks. :) 

After a mini Edcamp and a game of Quiz-Quiz-Trade, Jen Jones presented about best practices, Kayla Delzer presented about reimagining education, and David Jones presented about modeling collaboration.  I could have listened to them talk all day. But what I loved the most were all of the real-life, take-it-to-your-school-tomorrow strategies. 

We even completed STEM challenges at our table groups and did a scavenger hunt using the app Goosechase. Our table did the "create a roller coaster" challenge shown above, while other tables made a tower with marshmallows and toothpicks (shown below), and others made a maze with plastic cubes and blew a cotton ball threw it. It's amazing how going through the process yourself makes you think about how your students view the task. 

While I was there, I purchased a copy of the book Education Write Now that Kayla co-authored with several other leading educators. It's an excellent read and I completely covered the book with sticky notes while I read on the plane ride home. It's a down-to-earth and practical, but change-the-way-you-think-about-teaching book. Or solidify the ideas you've already had about changing education. Either way, it's an excellent read.

Long story short, it was an amazing day. My head was swimming with ideas and I have so many more things I want to do with my students now! If you ever have the opportunity to go to a Happy Go Teach conference, by all means go! Kayla, Jen, Kami, and David are all warm and welcoming, the atmosphere is exciting, and you will leave feeling inspired. Now happily go teach!

Stay sweet,