Background: I am a high school physics/chemistry teacher who was converted to using technology productively into my teaching about 7 years ago. Since then I have attended a number of educational technology conferences, large and small, in order to learn from others' experience and advice.
Today's Conference: As I reflected on what I learned today (June 1, 2013), I thought it was particularly effective to structure the morning with 20 minute long breakout sessions that focused on one topic. That amount of time gave me enough information about the topic, a web address or two to bookmark for later perusal, and some great ideas. If the sessions had been longer, I probably would have been off to one of the web sites researching what the presenter was speaking about but no longer listening to the presentation. Then, after lunch the luxury (!) of time to process and brainstorm with colleagues was especially productive.
Applying it to my teaching: I needed the reminder of how valuable process and brainstorm time is to facilitating group synergy. Too often in the rush to get through the curriculum or to cover the topics on an AP Exam, I have failed to allow my students to benefit from the collaboration and inspiration that results from group free time to work on topics/projects of direct interest to them. Because I made the decision to "flip" my classroom this past year, there has been more time for group work. What was reinforced for me today was a reminder of was how valuable to students this time can be.