Mapping Our Connections: My RSCON3 Session

RSCON3 was last weekend. What a great experience! I’ve written about it here and here, but in this post I’m going to reflect on the session I led. I called it “Adding a Directory Map Using a Spreadsheet to Your Wiki.” Yawn!

Here was the published description…
“Recently I added a participant map to the Global Read Aloud wiki using There were a few tricky steps, so come and do a walk through. Also, brainstorm other uses of maps like this. (UTC-5)”

Yes, that was it. And that crazy URL was not even a hyperlink. It looked just like that. Who would come to this session? I wondered many times over the two weeks leading up to my session.

I explained in one of the previous posts why I agreed to lead the session. Clive asked for something like “reserve” sessions. I thought maybe it meant he needed a back-up plan in case someone got sick. I said yes, thinking a “reserve” session wouldn’t be as important or well-attended, and maybe not attended or needed at all.

Clive was very amiable and welcomed me into the “presenter” fold.
I was put on the schedule. I sent a picture. He put me on the map. He began to treat me like a presenter. Hmmmm! I got more serious about planning the session, although I was very nervous!

Sylvia Ellison signed up to moderate. And then I saw my picture on the Reform Symposium Conference web site. OK, I thought, I guess this session is a go.

I got serious about preparing the session. 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Not a bad time. I even thought someone might show up. In fact, I started to hope they would. In my head I had changed the name and description of the session countless times, wishing I would have been more creative when I first wrote it. I began thinking of it as “Mapping Our Connections.”

RSCON3 people are passionate learners, inspiring educators, and global connectors. Why wouldn’t they want to map their connections? I thought. If they haven’t already done so, I can show them one or two ways to make a map for their blog or wiki. If they already have mapped their connections, they can share their genius with the rest of us and show us another way to do it. I began getting excited.

Unfortunately, I became enthused a couple weeks too late. I wish I would have had the confidence and gumption to believe in myself and my topic and write it up with more enthusiasm. But I didn’t.

Maybe that was a good thing because I am so glad I had this experience, and I never would have had a session had not Clive asked for last minute “reserve” sessions. I am thankful he sought that last round of volunteers because I didn’t have the confidence to volunteer early on when the bulk of the schedule was prepared.

Well, the morning came, and I went bright and early into my room to add some live links, to check the sound and make sure I felt comfortable in Room 42. It was over an hour before the session, and Sylvia came in. What a relief that was! She was so professional; we went through the session quickly and I felt ready and so thankful she had come in so early.

During the session I asked participants to share a link to their blog or other website where they’ve made global connections. Here are the links that were shared…

  1. Laura Coughlin in Missouri
  2. Celia Coffa in Australia
  3. Tina Schmidt in Pennsylvania
    Also from Tina: A Week in the Life Flat Classroom Project
  4. Sylvia Ellison in Florida
  5. Sherri Edwards in Washington
  6. Denise Krebs in Iowa connecting with New South Wales, Australia

Those are just the participants who shared links. Here is the map we made while we were in the session, showing where some of us were from.

Amazing! In no other era in the history of the world could this varied group of people, in their own homes, come together from North America, Asia, and Australia to share global connections they’ve made. It was delightful!

After viewing the archive, I learned some things I would have done differently in my session. If I did it again, I would:

  • smile when I had the video on!
  • open the map while it was being updated, but I would application share so everyone else could see it too.
  • move more slowly and deliberately when I was application sharing to avoid motion sickness in the participants.
  • speak up, and not have such a “shy” voice.

After 30 minutes I had not gotten to the meat of the presentation, and I shared that I wasn’t sure what to do at that point because our time was up. Sylvia, so gracious, acted surprised and said something like, “It’s been so fast and exciting so far.” Smile! She is so nice!

Then, Shelly Terrell, who was in the session, suggested that we take ten more minutes to finish. Oh, perfect! Just the time we needed to wrap up by making a map of the data points we had gathered.

But how to do it? Should we go through the slides, which were annotated screen shots of how to do it? Or go out to the Internet and actually do it again? I really didn’t know which one would be more helpful, so I asked.

Do you know when you ask a question to a class and no one cares or has an opinion? It is a sure sign of disengagement and apathy, which is death to learning. As I asked the question, which do you want–slides or watching the process live–I was so afraid no one would care. “Doesn’t matter, Denise, I’m disengaged anyway. Not even sure I heard the question,” came the unspoken answer in my head.

But no, Tina to the rescue! She answered right away, suggesting we go through the process rather than the slides. I was so happy she dared to care and expressed her opinion. I jumped on her suggestion. Thanks so much, Tina!

Anyway, we went through the process, and just like I had hoped and prayed, at the last step when I added the map to the wiki, it opened and really did work. I knew it would, but what if in my nervousness I had missed a digit of the API Key? Or any other of dozens of little mistakes I could have made? Then it wouldn’t have worked, and my closing statement–“just like magic, your map is there!” would have been really embarrassing!

All in all, I was pleased with and proud of my first attempt at presenting online at a global conference!

If you are interested in putting a map on your wiki, you can watch the session’s archive. (You have to click several times to get it open.) If you watch it, I hope you will add your name and location to the map. The links in the archive will still work for you, and the Google Doc can still be updated. Please let me know if you participate through the archive!

Related Links:
Children’s Literature Blog Contributors
Global Read Aloud Tuck Everlasting – Notice there are more participants than the archive screenshot had. These maps  update automatically! Little to no maintenance!
Global Read Aloud Flat Stanley
Participant Map for this Session
You can also watch the slides.
Adding a map to a blog using

Thoughts About #RSCON3

Shelly Terrell (and her pug) kept us company, while Ian got the raffle ready.

Reform Symposium Conference just got over. Moments ago I “stepped” out of the last room, so I’m going to start there, reflecting backwards over the weekend.

While I was in the final room enjoying the afterglow of a lovely weekend, Ian @ianchia announced the first ten raffle winners. My name topped the list, and I won several iPad apps. Yippee! Now I just need to get an iPad! (Not to worry, our school just received funding to buy several for this year!)

Principal El, Lisa Nielsen, Alec and George Couros, and Steve Wheeler gave inspiring keynote addresses. These were the only ones I was able to hear, but there were many others too. What great quality speakers, such a long varied list!

The panel discussion with Tom Whitby, Steven Anderson, Joquetta Johnson and Naomi Harm was stimulating. I was making crepes in the kitchen while taking notes like crazy, which has spurred another drafted post. More about that later…

Some of the sessions I was able to attend were by Lynn Boyle on creating an online community of learners, Jo Hart on keeping a finger on the pulse of your PLN, Kimberley Rivett on literacy in the digital age and Janet Bianchini on using cartoons in language learning.

Slide from Steve Wheeler's Closing Address

Most of Saturday and all of Sunday, I was able to relax and participate as an attender. However, on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning I had some responsibilities. I was the moderator of Jo’s and Kimberley’s sessions, and I led a session about one way to map our global connections.

I am not at all a nervous person, but these minor responsibilities had me stressed out for several days! Yikes! But it was all worth it. We don’t grow unless we push ourselves, and I did grow in many ways.

Prior to RSCON3, I had not heard of Reform Symposium Conference. I saw the first RSCON3 tweet about the first of July. It looked interesting, so I added the hashtag to my TweetDeck and lurked about for two weeks or so. Somewhere during the month I became convinced, registered, and began tweeting about it. Then, shortly after that, Clive Elsmore, tweeted that he was looking for some back-up or reserve sessions.

I thought, “Hmmm, that sounds easier than a normal session. Maybe he needs someone at 3:00 a.m. or maybe he just needs me if someone gets sick or has technical difficulties.” I didn’t think very long before I said I would do it. I am not an experienced presenter, but I was willing because I know that teachers learn more than their students, and I am a devoted lifelong learner. I was curious to see what it was like to present at an online conference.

My laptop was in every room of the house for the RSCON3

I realized I was way out of my league when I went to the Elluminate training sessions. I attended one and watched the other two recordings of Jo Hart’s trainings. Then I went to another training with Shelly Terrell. Finally, I spent some time in the practice room, and thanks to some one-on-one tutoring by Chiew Pang, I was able to have some great rehearsal time using Elluminate. Jo Hart also spent time with me in her room helping me get ready for moderating her session. What a perfect way to start my responsibilities at RSCON3–moderating for a pro. Everyone was so very gracious!

Later that afternoon, I was able to help Kimberley during her session using some of the things I had learned in Jo’s session. It was nice to have help moderating from Sonya too.

Little learnings along the way…

  1. I learned headphones really are valuable when talking and leading online.
  2. I learned how to sign in as a moderator and then as a participant on Elluminate so I could make myself a moderator and then CLOSE the other moderator window. I finally figured out how to do that and how important it was. During Kimberley’s session I had two windows open, so I heard a painful echo!
  3. I learned that members of my PLN have voices. It was awesome to get to know the participants, moderators, and attenders as more complete people than just what they post online.
  4. I learned that it is possible to have an online community of learners. Community is the key word. I’ve taken online classes that were not in the least bit community. Presently, Iowa is working on initiatives to share teaching across the state in online classes. I have more hope for this method, as I learned some of the myriad resources that could allow real community to happen online.

I’m so thankful I moderated and presented early, and then had most of the weekend to relax and enjoy the other sessions.

Thanks to all the organizers and presenters for sharing their genius with the world and for challenging us to be more effective educators.