ISTE IGNITE and First Poster Sessions

The ISTE IGNITE session combines the inspiration of a keynote with the pace of a smackdown.  Speakers had 5 minutes and 20 images to tell their story. You may not believe it, and certainly it takes a lot of practice and confidence, but you can deliver a big bang under those conditions.  These people definitely did that for me:

Rafranz Davis
Her focus on spreading passion and innovation through creativity struck right at my makerspaker heart.  If you haven't heard about Braeden's Art Planet, you need to go check it out.  Braeden taught himself how to create puppets, use PhotoShop, and create animations.  He blogs about it and even has earned the attention of Muppets creators.  I loved so many things Mrs. Davis said and encourage you to keep an eye on the ISTE YouTube channel for the recording and watch it for yourself.  Some of my favorite things she said (loosely quoted):

  • "Learning begins when homework ends and is completely driven by the student"
  • "Never underestimate the power of a kid driven by his own passion"
  • "When you learn, create, and share, you give passion a chance to go viral."
  • "Make sharing a goal"
On a practical note, she also shared a new tool (to me):  Tackk, for creating posters.

Stacy Hawthorne @StacyHaw
Such a fun presentation with insight into learning that seems so obvious, but isn't followed (or permitted) as much as we wish.  She summed it up with the idea that you only grow when you are outside of your comfort zone.  Before getting to that point, she identified 3 keys to learning 1) Ask a lot of meaningful questions, 2) go around the brick walls, and 3) make sure people know where they stand all the time.  

It's a familiar set of insights, so how many times and creative ways do teachers have to keep saying them before change occurs?

Jennifer Magiera
She had the room at "PD shouldn't stand for Professional Death," but kept us engaged with some witty insights and solid recommendations for stopping the madness.  Watch the recording and check out her website.  Meanwhile, my main takeaways:

  • PD should be authentic - something teachers can use immediately
  • Make PD like a play date - hands on learning and everyone in the role of teacher/learner
  • Hold PD as an app (tech) speed dating session led by kids sharing ideas with teachers
  • Have teachers create an Individual Exploration Plan (IEP) for their learning and go find the PD they need to meet their goals
Pat Yongpradit
Given my immersion and devotion to last year, he didn't say much that was new to me... Except that the beta release of a new curriculum comes out July 22. Got that on my calendar!

Nicholas Provenzano
Another speaker going straight to my heart on the Maker movement.  Using Phineas and Ferb's theme song as a springboard to the creativity of kids he argued that the "most important thing we need to do for our kids is create experiences for them."  He practiced what he preaches by giving his kids 20% Genius Time to explore their passions.  He's even started a TEDx for his students to share their learning with a bigger audience.

Communities Networking Fair

Thanks to the communities networking fair, I am now connected to the 3D Network, Online Learning Network, Librarians Network, Mobile Learning Network, and Ed Tech Coaches Network.  These active groups have Twitter chats, events, and resources to share all year long to keep the learning going. That's how you get the most out of attending a conference like ISTE

Poster Sessions 

For quick access to real projects that work in classrooms, you can't beat the poster sessions.  Some of my favorites were:

  • Check out for brief, but powerful video tutorials by real teachers and their best tips, tools, and practices that you can use in your class.
  • You can blog with your students:
    • Student Blogging Challenge - this teacher has already developed the lessons, including video, to teach students how to develop a blog post.  Through 10 weekly challenges with several activity options each week, students blog and connect with other bloggers through edublogs (so it's safe!).  
    • International Virtual Schooling - connect your classroom to other classrooms around the world using the IVS platform.  They've got programs for K-12 and as the 6th grader from Mexico explained to me it is simple to use.  Students are asked to provide answers to the same question and view each other's responses online.  They can also have a video conference session.  I've seen students from this group at past ISTE sessions.  They impress me with their confidence, communication skills, and poise.  
    • Alice Chen's One World, One Classroom - (PBS Digital Innovator!) presented on her experience blogging with students and has a form on her site where you can join the project.  Under her expert guidance, students will have an authentic, rewarding blogging experience.
  • STEM Institute at Preston Middle School in Colorado looks like a program to follow.  I love their motto "How will you make the world better?" Director, John Howe, offered to share resources and is very interested in seeing the model expand to other schools and states. Why wouldn't he? The students that go through his program not only avoid the Summer Slide, they actually improve their reading skills over the summer.  I'm in! I'll be following up with him on this great idea!

There were so many other great networking and learning opportunities throughout the day.  I saw several Madison County librarians, connected with some of my fellow PBS Digital Innovators, found some new teachers to follow on Twitter, and got some advice on grant strategies. Plus, I learned about a delicious PD opportunity at PETE (Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference) held in Hershey, PA during the same month that special chocolates are made and sold only in Hershey.  

Linda and I always mean to turn in early, but we just keep reviewing our day, reliving the highlights, and thinking about how we are planning to use all of this new information we are learning.  


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