23 October 2013

An Amazing Opportunity to Teach

My husband and I were invited to teach 7 classes between the two of us at the Family History Conference held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on October 19, 2013. The conference was well attended and a great experience for the both of us.

Devon Lee teaching a class on Collaborative Genealogy

I taught four classes: Collaborative Genealogy, Photographing Artifacts, Photographing Cemeteries, and Heritage Scrapbooking. I loved noticing the patterns of who attended my classes. The Collaborative class attracted the intermediate and advanced genealogists, as one would expect it to. Also, a beginning family history class was taught once and only during this hour. Yet I know that beginners aren't ready to know how to collaborate, but they soon will. Hopefully I'll see them the next time I teach such a class.



William James Townsend Gravestone
William James Townsend, Find A Grave Memorial# 98018586
Photo by : Chad Graham

What's great, is while teaching collaboration, collaboration happened. I shared a this gravestone about the things I learned from a civil war grandfather's stone. A class member pointed out that a religious stone was inscribed on my stone and pointed me in further directions to research. I hadn't thought about that yet. Collaboration works, that's all I have to say.

Andy Lee teaching Genetics and Genealogy
My hubby taught three classes, all in the morning which gave him time to get home for the Texas A&M game that afternoon. (Johnny Football did great, even if our team ran out of time). His first class was Interviewing Tips and Techniques. It was a comparatively small class and he wasn't able to share everything he prepared. Nevertheless, the class was well received.

The genetics class was well attended

His next class was Genetics and Genealogy. Now this was his largest class by far. So many people are curious about DNA testing for family history. After a brief science lesson about what DNA is, he then compared the companies that do genetic testing and helped dispel myths about what the test results can say and what they can not. Andy received a ton of positive feedback about this class. In fact, one compliment came from someone we know well who doesn't hand out compliments easily. That's powerful.

Also, I think scheduling this class after the Beginning Genealogy Class was great. There were a lot of beginning and seasoned genealogists in his class. Great job on the scheduling.

Andy Lee teaching how to write your family history
Writing Your Family History was his final class. This class was also well attended. I think because a) because it's a great topic and b) it was slotted after Beginning Family History and Beginning Roots Magic. This allowed something more for beginners to family history to attend that is a natural progression. Great planning by the scheduling committee. After this class, hubby went home and I stayed to teach my classes in this room. I also was available to hear all the wonderful comments people shared about his teaching styles and the content of his classes. Great job honey. We make a great team.


In the afternoon, the attendance always drops off for the conference. I don't know why? Perhaps because it's a long day? In any case, my classes were attended by only a few persons but they really wanted to learn the topics I had to share. I received so many light-bulbs eyes, head nods, and such as I shared my information. Just what I needed as a teacher. Hooray!


Photograph the Stuff of Your Lives
Photograph the Stuff of Your Lives


My photographing artifacts class was geared toward amateur photographers. However, I realized some people had point-n-shoot cameras. I might consider what someone could do with such a camera for future classes as I geared my class for a mid-grade camera. Though I personally don't think point-n-shoot cameras are great, that might be all someone has. My focus was sharing that people don't need to jump to a dSLR until they are ready. Hmmm.... something to think about before I share this again. All in all, the class seemed well received.

Take cemetery photographs that invoke memories

The photographing cemetery class was well attended for an afternoon class. And we had fun interacting with each other. I feel confident that attendees will spend a little more time planning their photographs before taking a shot when they visit a cemetery. It's one thing to snap a photo to document a stone. It's another to create a beautiful photograph that floods a person with memories. I realized some of the slides in this presentation need to be reworked but, over all the feedback I received indicated that the class went well.

Oh! And thank you to my readers who submitted bloopers for this class. (By the way, I mentioned ya'll in my Collaborative Genealogy class as well!)

What goes into a heritage scrapbook?


My heritage scrapbooking class was fun. I shared my recommendations on what to put into a heritage scrapbook. I think this kept everyone one the same level whether they were beginners or advanced scrapbookers or whether they would use paper or digital mediums. We also discussed some case studies. I felt bad picking on some wonderful designers' work, but it was a prime example of seeing something through another person's eyes and noticing how to do something better. For instance, making sure your writing is readable. (for 'old people' eyes, like myself. Yikes!)

One person shared how they work for HeritageMakers.com. I provide this link because they have some family history centered templates. It would be a great tool for those new to digital scrapbooking and don't have the time to learn how to use a scrapbooking program. I had actually confused them with another 'digital scrapbook' company that basically makes photo albums rather than scrapbooks. You know... white and black pages, photos, and captions. Very little room for a story (which is second in importance to photos). Thankfully, they were not anything like this other company. So, I would recommend this service.


Over all, this year's conference was a great experience. The committee made some improvements in signage that was very welcome. Having a marketing background, I know the importance of telling people what to expect (spot on by making the information available online this year!) and getting them to where they want to go (they added large room signs with arrows). In the morning some very pretty young women greeted our guests and directed them to the registration tables. Also a great benefit to the conference.

All in all, a job well done. I would love to participate again next year. In the meantime, I am preparing a beginning family history class for the Hiawatha Public Library to be taught Monday, Jan. 6 at 7 pm.

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