With Spring CUE a little less than a week away, attendees are gearing up, organizing their “Scheds”, and looking forward to California’s biggest EdTech conference of the year.

With so many sessions and workshops to choose from, attendees will not want to overlook the various, themed poster sessions that will be happening on all three days of the conference. But, if you’re #new2CUE like myself, you might be asking…

What is a poster session?

Cate Tolnai, CUE’s Director of Member Engagement, explains, “A poster session is a two-hour long presentation where the presenter is really accessible to anyone walking by, anyone stopping to chat. They are meant to include informal conversations and allow for direct question and answering between presenter and attendees. They are SO fun because you get personal contact with people who are stopping by and connecting with you.”

Unlike in previous years, this year’s poster sessions are themed and will include strands for primary (K-2), the eLearning and Computer Science Learning Networks, along with strands specifically geared for TOSAs and even a strand for Media and Information Literacy, among others.

Ben Cogswell, a kindergarten teacher and former Technology TOSA out of Salinas, CA, will be presenting his poster session during the “Primary Focused” strand. Cogswell states, “There’s five of us that are doing a primary powered poster session. My session is on Green Screen using DoInk. We are just really trying to build more of a primary network of people who can share. My session will focus on getting our youngest learners and teachers to create and be creative.”

Brandi Miller, an Instructional Technology TOSA in the Rowland Unified School District, is eager to get to Palm Springs and present her poster session during the TOSA-focused strand. She tells OnCUE, “My session is about working as a TOSA when you support multiple school sites. [It’s about] how to manage your time, provide support to hundreds of teachers with different needs, and communicate your work with those who need to know what you’re doing. I’m hoping to reach other TOSAs or anyone in a support position working across multiple sites.”

Nancy Minicozzi, a Instructional Technology Coach from Las Virgenes USD and part of the “TLC” Ninja duo podcasting team, is also presenting in the TOSA strand and said this of her session. “Our session is about pineapple charts and we hope to target teachers, TOSAs, tech coaches, and admins. Pineapples are the international symbol for hospitality. Pineapple charts are a way for teachers to invite others at their school into their classroom for informal observations,” she states. “We learn so much by watching each other and pineapple charts are an easy way to let other teachers at your school know what you are doing, when you are doing it and that you are welcoming them in so they can visit and see you in action. It is one of the best and easiest ways to organize professional development.”

But TOSAs aren’t the only ones who can benefit from these poster sessions. Tom Covington, a Technology TOSA from Bassett Unified School District and part of the duo podcast team “TOSAs Talking Tech,” has been doing poster sessions for the last three years. He states his team’s session will focus on “doing manic minute interviews coupled with a tour of our recording rig and our podcasting workflow, while also trying to share ideas about how audio can be used in a classroom setting.”

How do poster sessions differ from regular sessions?

Cogswell explains, “Poster sessions are great for having more in depth Conversations with presenters. You can have conversations with Presenters and get lots of bite-size pieces of information on the different poster sessions. You’re a lot more in the driver seat at a poster session in my opinion then at a regular session.”

Miller also adds, “I love poster sessions because you can really interact with the presenter and ask specific, personally relevant questions. They are a great format to connect with others and grow your PLN.”

What’s the best way to take on these poster sessions?

Covington shares his tips: “Just walk up and start talking. Don’t be afraid to interact, that’s what we are there for. The worst thing for a poster session is to not have someone there. We want to talk to you. Hit as many papers as you can, it is a free-flow kind of hallway. Take pictures to links for resources to look into later. They are supposed to be hit and run session stress. Don’t be afraid to contact the poster presenter later! I love follow up questions and I love helping others.”

Minicozzi agreed, adding, “[Attendees] should feel free to ask questions of the presenters while they are visiting the table, but they should also take any resources they have, review them after the conference, and reach out to the presenters after the fact if they have questions.”

Why are poster sessions so popular?

Miller discusses why she enjoys poster sessions and why she returns to the CUE conference every year. “This is my fifth CUE conference and my second time presenting a poster session there. I’ve also presented poster sessions at ISTE,” she states. “I love CUE because the connections I’ve made with other educators has really helped me when I experience the highs and lows of being an educator. Even though the conference is large, I feel like I really have the opportunity to meet people from Twitter and other educators whose work I’ve admired from afar. It’s like a big family reunion!”

What additional advice would you offer to those who are #new2CUE?

Veteran CUE conference attendee and presenter Covington shares his tips: “Come prepared – [have your] charger, water bottle, notepad or app for notes. Build in some downtime,” he advises. “Plan for long lines for lunch unless you go walking. Drink lots of water. Go to after hours functions, ask about them and find them. You will learn tons, but forget it in a week or two. The friends you make and connections you grow will stick with you. Be on Twitter – it’s half the conference. Go to your affiliate meeting and follow everyone on Twitter. Go to karaoke. Make friends, find colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”

Cogswell also shares his pointers. “Don’t feel like you have to go to every session,” he states. “Make some time for the vendor hall, make some time to connect with people in the hallways, look for events after the day that you can continue to network with people. And lastly, get on Twitter and check out the #cue19.”

Minocozzi shared her tips – via sketchnote on Twitter. Here’s what she had to share about getting the most out of the conference.

Minicozzi shared her sketchnote via Twitter to get her PLN pumped for #CUE19!

For a complete list of the various poster session strands or to add any of them to your Sched, make sure to visit the Poster Session page.

About Kristin Oropeza
Kristin is a full-time special education teacher, contract consultant, and educational content writer. She is a Google Certified Teacher (Level 1 and 2), Google Certified Trainer, and MIE Expert for 2020-2021.