Where to begin?! I am truly grateful to have been given the amazing opportunity by my school district to attend my first International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference this past week, held here at McCormick Place in Chicago. I was very excited when I first learned I was going but even more appreciative after attending and experiencing first-hand the invaluable connections and immense resources. I’m quite certain I made some new lasting relationships with colleagues, and have loads of material and ideas to bring back to school. Here are just some of my highlights:
- Presenting William Fremd High School’s #TeacherTakeover Social Media Event: My school’s Digital Democracy team, Viking Network, had the privilege of taking part in a learner-centered collaboration with The Teacher’s Guild, an innovative community bringing teachers together, and was chosen as a favorite to speak at #ISTE18 in the “Digital Citizenship & Design Thinking: Build Ideas for your Classroom session!” I was honored to represent Fremd at #ISTE18 and share amongst long-distance colleagues! The room full of fellow educators truly inspired me with their earnest feedback and inquiries about building school culture and empowering students through positive social media usage! It was such an uplifting, worthwhile experience to connect with everyone including Alysha English of The Teacher’s Guild as well as other collaboration favorites I admire very much, like Katey Hileman and Gail Desler. (who I met later at ISTE‘s #DigCit PLN meeting!). I know we will keep in touch and continue learning from each other. If interested, the #TeacherTakeover presentation is available HERE.
2. Sitting in a research paper session with Dr. Kristen Mattson sharing her dissertation, “Moving Beyond Personal Responsibility: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Digital Citizenship Curricula:“ There were many of us at a smaller table setting, affording opportunity to informally chat on our pedagogical beliefs about the incorporation of digital citizenship in our classrooms and schools. I was super excited to meet Dr. Mattson after following her tweets, and her book was literally sitting in my “Wish List” on Amazon to purchase. Glad I snagged one before it sold out the next day at ISTE. I just started reading, and already have take-aways within Chapter 1. I can’t wait to share with the team back at school, and gain more inspiration from Kristen!
Side note: the educational world is powerfully small – one of us sitting in the session was an educator from West Leyden (my mom’s alma mater!) who just happens to also be a Fremd parent. I have to say I truly enjoyed making the connections at ISTE!
3. Joining ISTE’s #DigCit PLN : On the last morning of the conference, I excitedly walked into a room full of like-minded educators who came together to meet and share ideas for empowering our students to be participatory, empowered digital (and RL!) citizens. There, I met some wonderful new #digcit colleagues like Nancy Watson and chatted again with Dr. Kristen Mattson. I had the chance to share a little bit about Viking Network‘s first year in creating #digcit awareness amongst our students, and can’t wait to get more involved!
Check out ISTE’s #DigCitCommit Moment for more highlights (thank you, ISTE, for including my tweet amongst so many great #digcitcommit declarations).
4. Re-joining Illinois Computing Educators (ICE): – I was a previous happy member of this local ISTE affiliate, and spoke at the 2014 ICE annual conference about Blogging in the Classroom, but hadn’t renewed my membership in a couple of years. I’m glad I did, and look forward to participating and giving back to our local community!
5. Joining the ISTE EdTech Coaches Network: I just found out at #ISTE18 that my application to become one of my school’s technology coaches next year was accepted, and I couldn’t be more excited! Integrating technology to best help students create, learn and grow is another passion of mine, and I can’t wait to help my colleagues in every way I can. Soooo the first place I went after finding out was upstairs to ISTE’S EdTech Coaches playground!!! The playground areas at ISTE are set up as fun destinations to gain loads of resources in a small amount of space and time. Ed tech specialists were gathered amongst various tables and small groups, offering snippets of resources in moments.
6. Meeting some of my idols: When creating my program agenda, I sifted through the ISTE program, searching for EdTech superstars I’ve been following on Twitter.
I was eager to hear Shaelynn Farnsworth and Web20Classroom speak about Differentiation: Meeting the Diverse Needs of of Learners with Technology., and was lucky to chat with Shaelynn afterward for a few minutes for advice. Thank you, Shaelynn!! Your resources are always useful – you’re inspiring!!
I combed through the exhibit hall to make it in time to see Alice Keeler speak about “Pulling the Paragraph” in Google Docs. Thank you, Alice! Your tech tips are indispensable! And the selfies were fun!! Check out a previous blog I wrote about one of Alice’s book HERE.
And . . .
7. Watching Vicki Davis,Kasey Bell,Matt Miller and Eric Curts share their best Tech Tips during “Goog Smacked” . . . sitting third row center:. I seriously didn’t stop taking notes all hour except to take a couple pics (oh, and catch a “Shake Up Learning” t-shirt from Kasey Bell!!). . . these four superstars shared one after the other after the other. If you blinked, you missed something. Thank you to each of you for an hour well-spent!!
8.Listening to Keynote Speakers Andy Weir, author, former software engineer; Katie Martin, Ph.D., education leader, teacher and author; Michael Cohen, designer, educator and creativity instigator. I sat down that Tuesday morning and felt sincerely grateful to be sitting in that auditorium, and have opportunity to hear these incredibly inspirational educators. Below is something from Katie Martin’s presentation that resonated with me. I just ordered her book, Learner-Center Innovation, and can’t wait to dive in and gain more inspiration from her!
Check out Katie’s ISTE moment on Twitter HERE for more (thank you, Katie, for including my tweet!):
9. Creating at Apple’s #EveryoneCanCreate station: Many thanks to Tricia Fuglestad for letting me know about this! (another fun connection: Tricia was the first person I met at ISTE, standing in line for coffee . . . she’s an award-winning, impactful art teacher who student taught at Fremd!) Apple set up an interactive mural set up encouraging attendees to draw and play. Yours truly is not an artist by any means so I opted to sketch a “Post Positive” reminder instead just to try out Tayasui Sketches. I will say, though, that I already downloaded the app; it’s super easy to use and I can see its value for student use for projects or posts!
10. Scavenging around the exhibit hall: I walked away from the exhibit hall with an armful of information from a slew of ed tech vendors – Alexa in the Classroom (this is so interesting to me!), Google for Education, Apple, new digital research platforms, student portfolio platforms, digital writing platforms . . . the list goes on. Swag is always fun – especially when it includes items that I can bring back to share with my colleagues!
Honestly, my biggest takeaway has been the invaluable connections – it’s the conversations I had the chance to have with both local and distant colleagues that inspire me the most. Like it or not, our digital life is fast becoming as much a part of our world as our real life (or RL, as I often heard at ISTE). Now more than ever, it’s important to work together as we empower our students to be participatory, proactive citizens – both digitally and IRL!