Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Good Eats at #MACUL13

Often when I go to a conference, I'm locked in to where (and even what) I'm eating as it's dictated by the groups I'm a part of or duties I'm trying to complete.  However, this year I had to opportunity to be the organizer of several of our meals - so planned meals at some unique eateries.  I have to say, all of the places we went to were delicious!!

Here are the three place that were brand new to me:

  • Small Plates: described to me as a "tapas" type place, 16 of us descended on Small Plates to check it out.  We had two tables, allowing us to eat there in two different ways (below).  The service was great, food was fantastic, and prices really reasonable! (If you are looking for a truly decadent dessert, I highly recommend the Bumpy Cake...)
    • Table 1: as a group we ordered a bunch of menu items and shared among the table; I believe we tried 10 different menu items, and yes all of the plates were completely clean!!
    • Table 2: (our "high needs" table - those with special dietary consideration) ordered individually, with their dietary needs all being attended to by the server and cook; again, nothing but raves about their meals
  • Detroit Beer Co: satisfied the need of some of our group to head to a place for bar food.  A smaller group, but again we experienced great service and great food.  Ironically, Small Plates and Detroit Beer Co are side-by-side in the same building :-)  Our wait staff was both good at recommending food and beers - which is all local brew.  And I can say - the chicken quesadillas are probably the best I've ever had.
  • Blue Star Cafe: our lunch fair was in a very small unusual place called Blue Star Cafe.  The setup is a cafeteria style service, with the offerings changing daily.  There were 6 hot entrees that came with a couple sides, or a couple cold sandwiches or salads that came with chips.  We had a couple of large groups go through, and I was AMAZED at the speed with which they got us through the line.  Those I talked to had good to great food.  No matter what you get, make sure to get the corn bread - it's moist and on the sweeter side...very yummy!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2013 MACUL Conference Tipsheet #4

(This is the final tip sheet in the series of 4 to help you prepare for one of MACUL’s largest conferences ever!) 

I’m guessing you will be arriving at the conference sometime within the next 48 hours.

Here are some other tidbits that might help you out as you arrive at the conference:

  • COBO Layout: COBO is basically a big “L” with sessions dispersed over 3 or 4 levels of both sides of the L; the shorter side faces the river.  If you are moving from a session on one side to a session on another side AND changing floors, know that traffic at the elbow can get a little crowded so plan accordingly with your time.  Sometimes escalators can back up for several minutes between sessions.
  • Getting Around Town: There are three ways most people attending the conference use to get around town -

    • Walking: Many people walk between their hotels and COBO.  If you are attending by yourself, you should easily be able to find a group to join between popular locations - just let them know you are heading in the same direction and I am sure they will welcome you.  I’m amazed at the number of times I join a group to find out that everyone in the group has just met each other in the last 15 minutes.  You might do some of your best networking during these walks!
    • Detroit People Mover: There is a stop to the People Mover right within COBO (there are signs - it is on an upper floor at the tip of the “L” furthest from the river).  Using the People Mover can get you directly to the Courtyard Marriott or RenCen, and very close to the Holiday Inn and Atheneum.  It also can get you to locations with great food if you are looking for dinner - Greektown & Bricktown for some unique dining experiences, Grand Circus & Broadway for more of the “sporting event” eateries (near the stadiums).
    • Shuttles: Some of the local hotels also offer shuttle service (the Atheneum and Holiday Inn being two).  Be sure to ask at the front desk when checking in if this is a service you might plan on using.
  • Parking: Parking will be at a premium with so many people descending on the area at the same time.  I would make sure to plan on some extra time to both secure parking and get to where you need to me in the case you have to cover a little more distance than anticipated.
  • Suggested Sessions:  If you are still struggling over deciding what sessions to attend, here's a Google Doc of Suggested 2013 MACUL Sessions you might want to consider.
Looking forward to seeing you!  Hope you have a fantastic time and learn lots.

2013 MACUL Conference Tipsheet #3

The MACUL Conference is 5 days away!  This is the third tip sheet in a series of 4 to help you get ready for Michigan’s largest education conference.

Today I'm sharing some general tips for getting the most out of the conference.

Checking In: Checking in on Thursday morning can be overwhelming!  Here are some bits of advice to avoid missing the opening keynote session (you don’t want to miss Kevin Honeycutt - he will truly inspire you!):
  • If you come into Detroit Wednesday prior to 5pm, go to registration then instead of waiting until Thursday
  • If you come into Detroit Thursday morning, registration opens at 7 am Thursday - plan to get there around that time to avoid long lines

Getting Help: There are over 100 volunteers (including myself!) available to help you if you have questions during the conference.  If you are unsure of anything, please ask!  Ways you can identify people that can help:
  • People carrying around “Ask Me” signs
  • People wearing shirts that have the MACUL logo on them
  • People with lots of ribbons attached to their name badges (not all of these people are official volunteers - but they probably have the experience to direct you to the right place!)

To Stay or Not To Stay?:  You may get into a sessions and 5 minutes in know that it really wasn’t what you thought it was about.  At this conference we ENCOURAGE you to quietly get up, exit and make your way to another session you had targeted. This conference is about your learning - do not be held hostage by politeness into losing 60 minutes of your precious time!

Network, Network, Network: Take time to connect with others!  It may be hard for you, but it is so worth getting to know many of the great educators there are in our the state. When to network?:
  • There is always a half hour between sessions - part of this time can be used to chat with other people are attending the same session, even the presenters.  I don’t even know of a featured speaker that doesn’t enjoy talking to conference participants!
  • Thursday’s lunch is a longer period so you can go through the exhibit hall - and for the SIGs (Special Interest Groups) to have their annual meetings & lunch.  Look up the SIGs and see if one fits your interests - it’s a great way to meet new people!
  • Use the social events - the party at the Roostertail, the spur of the moment Tweet-up gatherings (follow #MACUL13 on twitter for these!), and vendor sponsored events are all great ways to connect with each other.

Be Comfortable: You will probably do LOTS of walking during this conference.  Please dress comfortably so you can fully enjoy it!  Many of us will be wearing comfortable pants - like khakis - with comfortable shirts - such as polos.  Most importantly - wear shoes that stay comfortable on your feet for the full day.

Looking forward to seeing you at the conference!