The conferences were at The Venetian, which was absolutely beautiful, but also absolutely pricey. I stayed across the street at The Mirage and had a lovely time. It also encouraged me to start and end each day with a little walk (since I had to walk across the street to the conference location), so that was good to balance all the sitting I did in the workshops.
I arrived on Tuesday (see a few posts back for pictures from my first night), but I really started the learning on Wednesday with a day at the National Differentiated Instruction Conference. I can't even explain all the awesome things I learned, but I'm eager to put a few ideas into practice this new year, especially for interventions and accommodations for struggling readers. I met some amazingly intelligent presenters, and I only wish I could be as articulate as they one day in my professional future.
Part of my prize included a $25 gift certificate to spend at the Crystal Springs Bookstore. Since I explained in a previous post how I'm planning to target the language of mathematics this year, I flipped when I saw this book! I began reading it on the plane ride home and LOVE it! Each chapter has a specific literacy strategy extended to mathematical ideas/concepts, so it's exactly what I needed. Best part? FREE! Thanks, SDE, for the shopping spree!
And then there was that fangirl moment I got to meet Rick Wormeli! I am in awe...*starstruck*! He is so amazingly brilliant and insightful. I wish I could demonstrate even half of his knowledge, but his presentation skills are on point too. We were laughing the entire presentation! He was so nice when I went to talk to him, but my mind turned to goo and I couldn't articulate everything I wanted to say! I hate when I do that! :)
I also got to meet Monica from SDE who helped organize my day! She worked with Cyndie Dunn from Chalk One Up for the Teacher to get my tuition paid for the day I spent here at the DI conference.
Perhaps the best moments are the unplanned ones. I went to Bible study on Wednesday night at the Oakey Boulevard church of Christ. Sister Nikita offered to drive me back to my hotel, and we had such an instant connection! I enjoyed the drive back so much, and I'm so happy that I got to meet another sister in Christ.
I went out later on Wednesday for dinner and a little sight-seeing. It was the first night I got to see (and feel) the volcano eruption outside The Mirage. It was SO hot! Literally! I also strolled down toward Caesar's Palace to the beautiful fountains.
Obviously, as a foodie, that's one of my favorite parts of any vacation or trip, so naturally, I had to include a section about my fave eats while I was there.
I waited about 40 minutes in line at Carlo's bakery (a.k.a. The Cake Boss' place). I bought this delectable dark chocolate mousse cake. It was worth every penny!
Then one night I ate at Guy Fieri's restaurant too and had the best fries I've ever had in my entire life! I'm not much of a french fry girl, but these were phenomenal!
On Thursday, I totally had a fangirl moment of a different kind. I ate lunch with Jill (below), and we started talking about the TpT conference. (She was there for the other SDE conferences.) When I gave her one of my cards, she said, "Oh, I've heard of you! Someone in one of our Facebook groups was talking about your planners the other day!" I nearly fainted! I couldn't believe it. It was my very first (and only, so far) celebriteacher moment! I had to snap a pic with her to remember the occasion.
Thursday night, I went to the High Roller (the world's largest "ferris wheel") to see the lights of Las Vegas by night. I met these two Korean girls who were vacationing here in the states. They couldn't get their cards to work properly at the electronic ticket kiosk, so I helped them. When I found out they were from Korea and were still learning English, I told them I was an ESL teacher. We spent the evening together! I'm so thankful that I was in the right moment at the right time to make new friends and to (hopefully) be a blessing to someone else. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip.
Here's my selfie at the top of the High Roller! 550 feet in the sky!
But then I fangirled pretty hard when I got to meet these awesome sellers. I've bought so many things from each of them! I was so excited that they were so friendly and took the time to offer me advice and just talk. From top to bottom, that's me with The 3AM Teacher, A Little Piece of Africa, Teaching and Tapas, and Teaching Super Power. The last photo is Amy from TpT...she's our Director of Seller Happiness. (Congrats on your promotion, Amy!)
As I was leaving the conference, I ran into two other Alabama girls! I couldn't believe it! We really hit it off, so I hope to see them again soon at our blogger meet-ups. Who would've known that I would make so many new friends from near and far?
I spent my last night at the dolphin habitat at The Mirage and taking a gondola ride at the Venetian. I'm so glad I did both! These were definitely attractions that were on my "must see" list.
But I still have to pinch myself to believe it's real when I think about my ultimate favorite moment. At the welcome keynote, we wrote down our goals for the conference. Amy and Adam asked three teachers to share theirs...and in front of a room of over 1,000 teachers, I stood up and shared mine...which was to meet Cyndie Dunn who made this entire experience possible. She stood up and waved from across the room, so I ran all the way across the auditorium to hug her in person. The entire room was cheering for us! It was such a rush! I still can't believe I was brave enough to do it, but I'm SO glad that I did. It actually lowered my affective filter, and then I wasn't afraid to talk to anyone! :) Not that there was ever anything to be afraid of! These teachers are amazingly encouraging!
I wanted to meet Tracee Orman too, who was the first person to ever mentor me on TpT, but she wasn't able to come this year...but we chatted all morning on Facebook and hope to get to meet face-to-face soon. I'm so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing teachers and leaders!
Obviously, I didn't want to leave because I had so much fun! Here's what I put on IG my last morning:
I didn't want to leave, but I am so thankful I had the chance to go. I really hope to be able to go again next year too! It truly was the trip of a lifetime!
You're probably tired of all the pics I posted and all my rambling by now! (LOL!) But you should head back over to the Elementary Entourage to check out their Viva Las Vegas posts too!