ISTE 2013

I only had one day at ISTE this year, but it was still fantastic.  There is always more to learn than I can absorb.  So, I'm just going to hit a few highlights.

1. My Own Poster Session at ISTE

First, has to be the privilege of presenting my poster session on Web 2.0 tools I used last year to create the quest-based learning program in the library.  I met so many great librarians who shared my enthusiasm for making the library a central place for learning.   We learned from each other with many of them giving me great ideas to improve my process, too.  I hope to hear from them throughout next year (and beyond) as we all continue to help students aim high and own their learning. 
2.  Gaming and Coding

Last year at ISTE, I learned about the Beebot.  My wonderful principal purchased four and we were off to a basic introduction to programming.  Gaming/programming/ coding remain at the top of my personal learning goals for next year; and I want to incorporate them into the library badge levels.  Some good possibilities I learned about at ISTE included:  Kodu Game Lab - This Microsoft based program works on PCs (free) and xBox ($5) and comes with free lessons plans to help teachers instruct students. Kandise Salerno of the University of Alberta has put together a companion Video Games Creation site with some great resources, including assessment tools, to help make implementation even easier.

CoderDojo - Volunteer-led clubs for teaching kids as young as 8 how to program, including building Web sites, apps, games, and more.  The students presenting at this poster session were teens, but assured me that my 3-5th graders could easily join the movement.  Huntsville is lucky enough to have one of only 50 CoderDojos already established, so I don't have to try to do this on my own.  I've signed my 4th grader up for the next meeting, July 13.  If you are in the Huntsville area, you should come, too!

3.  Build Your Own App

AppShed - A free point, click & drag program for building your own app.  To be honest, there are several of these that I am reviewing.  I don't know enough about app development to know which one will work best for our needs.  That said, the developers at AppShed definitely have teachers in mind with their product and their Appshed Academy (not free).

4.  Robotics

Robotics is another big goal of mine for WGS students.  Kids love to play with them, so it's the best time to get them interested in building their own.  My wonderful principal, Ms. Maness, also bought the library several LEGO kits, including the WeDo and Mindstorms sets, before she retired at the end of the year.  There is a rising 2nd grader at WGS who is ready to teach us all about LEGOs and robotics.  But, we can't rely on him alone.  An engineer-dad put together the site with instructions and projects to make with just one Mindstorm set.  I'm so glad I asked the right person at ISTE to find out about this site!

Hummingbird Robotics is another great discovery in the start-ups section of the EXPO.  Using arts and crafts materials and their robotics kit, students can create any kind of robotic animatronic they can imagine.  The excitement at this booth must be recreated in the school library.  In fact, this product discovery goes along with my 5th ISTE takeaway on maker spaces, but since it is mostly robotics, I'm leaving it here.  One kit is $200, so I'll have to be creative myself in finding the funding for it. 

5.  Maker Space I've been following the maker movement for a few years.  If we ever want to purchase a 3D printer, we need to show the ability to create something with it first.  I learned about Shapeways 3D printing company last year.  They have the printer; you send the design; they cost it out to you for printing.  This could be a really great fundraiser for the school.  Maybe this year...  
How did I miss Maker Camp by Google?  It's been around for a few years and maybe I just didn't explore it because it is intended for teens. This year, I'm going to follow along anyway and see if there are any projects I can adapt for the library maker space.  It's 38 days with 30 projects and field trips - all free, all online! 
6.  Free Surface RT for the Library!
Microsoft gave away 10,000 Surface RTs to ISTE attendees.  Thank you, Microsoft!  Really, this should be higher on my list.  I love free stuff; and this is an incredibly generous gift to my school. I'm still getting used to it, but cannot wait to share it with my library students.  It will make a fantastic addition to my new digital diner (thank you, Lowe's Toolbox for Education!).  Wouldn't it be great for them to compare and contrast the Surface and iPad?  I've already started the comparison with my 4th grader.


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