Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Take on ISTE 2014

I was blessed to be able to attend not 1, but 2 technology conferences this summer.  This was my second year at iSummit, and it was wonderful-as usual (see my previous posts about iSummit). Then came ISTE 2014!  This was my first time attending ISTE! I must admit it was a little overwhelming at first. I went with my co-worker Megan, from Digitally Enhanced Classroom, who had attended before.  She had described it to me as "iSummit on steroids". Boy, was she right! There were so many people and vendors it took me a day to get the hang of it. I still never participated in any "playground" sessions.  Whatever that was??

Edmodo Mascot
If you have never been to ISTE before, you might not realize just how much information you can learn just from walking around listening to the different vendors talk about their products. You can get some great freebies. I'm still waiting on my t-shirt from Remind (formerly Remind101).  I had my picture taken with Edmodo and sat in on one of their sessions, Digital Passport by Common Sense.  These are web-based lessons to teach students online safety. It is also available as an Edmodo App.
Ron Clarke at ISTE 2014

I saw Ron Clark model a math lesson with several students from his academy using Class Flow.  Class Flow is another free product that works with Smart Boards or Promethean Boards.  It allows the teacher to project their lesson onto each child's device and also see what each child is doing on their devices.  You can focus on a particular student's work and project it on the white board to share it with the entire class.  I can't wait to try this in my class. 

There was a lot of information to be gained just walking around visiting the different poster sessions. I had to get over the fact that there were so many people crowed around to see and hear.  I just needed to be patient - or get there early.  Actually those sessions gave me an opportunity to speak directly with presenters to discuss what they were sharing.  That's where I met Lindsay Brown, a 4th grade teacher from Virginia.

 She shared how she uses iTunesU in her classroom.  Megan also uses iTunesU, but with last year being my first year having 1:1 iPads, I was definitely not ready to tackle an iTunes course.  After listening to Ms. Brown's presentation I felt more comfortable, so I went home and started creating my first iTunesU course for my class; with a little help from Megan I was good to go. It was good to know that I didn't have to have a Mac to create the course; I only needed to use Chrome.  Students however, do have to use Macs or iPads to consume the information.

Enough about vendors and poster sessions.  It took me a minute to realize that if I wanted to get in to a session, I needed to be there early . . . real early.  For my first regular session I attended a panel discussion with some of my favorite tweeps: Angela Maiers, @ToddNesloney (a fellow flipper turned administrator), Two Guys and some iPads, and Steve Lesler.  It was great to actually meet people I follow on Twitter.  They had a powerful message about the importance of students and adults believing they matter.  It's such a small, but powerful thing.  I know I saw Angela at iSummit, but I knew the message was is so powerful! I just had to have more.

I also saw Aaron Sams and Jon Bergman, the pioneers of the Flipped Classroom.  I know I have seen them (via video) several times, but like I said, it was great to be able to see people that you have know through the internet.  Later that day, I even had an opportunity to share my personal journey in a flipped environment with another teacher who is thinking about taking the plunge.  

It was at iSummit that I realized I had barely scratched the surface when it comes to using Augmented Reality in the classroom.  Well, I had a chance to attend a couple of sessions about that.  I will share more about that at another time.

The last thing I wanted to share was the Keynote from Kevin Carroll, CEO (Chief Encouraging Officer). A-Maz-ing!  I can't even begin to do him justice, so I won't even try. Read more about Kevin Carroll here.  I will tell you that he is what's known as a change agent.  He is responsible for the Nike "Tag" commercials and the author of The Rules of the Red Rubber Ball.  He speaks about the importance of play; how children often learn to navigate their world during play.  He shared that as a child who moved around a lot, the playground and a red rubber ball became his sanctuary. I think as adults we tend to forget the importance of play.  Ironically, recess is often one of the first things taken away from children.  I will say that if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, don't miss it!

There was so much to see and do, there is no way to even share everything I did.  I just wanted to share a tiny bit of what resonated with me. As you prepare to begin your school year, think about these thoughts from Mr. Carroll: What's your red rubber ball?  What are you chasing?  Who encourages you?  Better yet, who are you encouraging? Have fun!  Play. . . and don't forget to look up.


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