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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Top 5 from ISTE 2016

This year I was lucky enough to be able to attend my second ISTE conference. Last year, I attended just Sunday and Monday's festivities with the PBS Lead Digital Innovators, and even after only a couple of days of the conference, I left so affected that I knew I needed to return this year.

And so, my fellow math/tech ToSA and I booked our trip in September and found ourselves in Denver in June. We paid our own way just to be in the same room as some of the greatest, smartest, most innovative minds in education; to be inspired and reinvigorated; to be with our tribe and surrounded by people with the same visions and goals for education that we have.

We were not disappointed...

Several major threads seemed to tie this year's event together, including:
I'm trying, Sylvia :)
  • Making and maker spaces
  • Minecraft (yes, Minecraft gets it's own listing, as the number of Minecraft sessions and playgrounds was staggering!)
  • Coaching
  • Professional Learning Networks
  • Computer Science
  • Virtual Reality
  • Creativity... in a variety of forms
In short, there was something for everyone.

So, what did I take away from this year's conference? Plenty! So much so, that it's taken me the last five days to process the entire experience! But after some sketching, reflecting, and notetaking, I was finally able to determine the most influential and memorable ISTE moments for myself and how that learning will drive my work in the coming school year.

Drum roll please...

    My ISTE Top 5

  1. The people!
  2. A snapshot of my PLN
    • Connecting with my PLN friends, both new and old, is always my favorite part of a conference... shout out to all my #cuerockstar, #TOSAchat, #connectedtl, #picademy and #pbsdigitalinnovator friends!
    • There is just something so special about getting to chat face to face with the people that you've already connected with online based on similar passions
    • Being surrounded by people who are just as passionate about changing education as I am is re-energizing and reminds me that my tribe is out there, and we are all pushing change forward together.
  3. Presenting at ISTE
    • I am a nervous public speaker... I always have been, and even though I do more of it all the time, it doesn't seem to get any easier.
    • ISTE is by far one of the biggest events that I've ever had the pleasure of presenting at, and it was invigorating!
    • The best part of presenting at conferences is how much I learn in the process. I always learn something during a presentation-- from the audience, from co-presenters, from myself during a moment of self-realization-- and this experience was no exception! I learned so much from my co-panelists (@mjgormans & @jjwestenskow)... about speaking, about making, about play in schools, about developing a mindset over a space...
    • There is also something validating about being asked to speak at a conference. As a "lone nut" of sorts at my site and in my district, it's hard to know whether you're doing the right thing. But when you're asked to share your work at an international conference and the people on your panel share the same mindset that you do, it's a good reminder that what you're doing is important. Maybe I am moving my students and teachers in the right direction...
  4. It's time to get creative
    • Photo walks and photography apps, Sketchnoting, designing, engineering, computing, coding, digital drawings and paintings, video production...
    • Creativity of all sorts was showcased at this year's ISTE, and seeing all of the digital art and being surrounded by all those creations, was a good reminder about the importance of art and creativity in education. The last few decades have seen creativity squeezed out of education and we need to bring it back... for the students' sake and for the teachers' sake.
  5. Minecraft... learn it
    • It's been on my to-do list forever, and doesn't seem to be going away, so I think it's finally time to learn a little Minecraft.
    • I took a little time while at ISTE to attend a Minecraft playground hosted by Microsoft and had quite a bit of fun learning better how to navigate Minecraft... I have to say, I'm pretty proud of the self-portrait I was able to create ;)
    • I also attended a session on Minecraft in the classroom and was able to hear some of the amazing ways that educators are incorporating Minecraft in their classrooms... alright, I think I can do this!
  6. Shoot for the Moon!
    • I dropped in Mark Wagner's "Moonshot Thinking" session for a few moments on day 1 to learn a little more about this problem-solving, design thinking strategy inspired by Google's X Lab.
    • The name may seem a little obvious, but sometimes it takes hearing someone tell you that it's okay to think big that somehow makes it so.

Bonus-- Michelle Cordy's closing keynote

Michelle Cordy's keynote was just the message I needed at the end my ISTE experience. It is often hard for me to leave a conference; after spending days surrounded by all the excitement and passion, it's hard to go home to the naysayers and bureacracy that can sometimes overshadow the things that we love about teaching. Cordy's message was a powerful one, and refreshingly simple to execute in our own schools.
Cordy is a public school teacher (just like many of us) who works to figure out how, among all the testing requirements and government initiatives, she can make education exciting and memorable for her students. Cordy's call to action-- "Show up and refuse to leave"-- was an important reminder that we are responsible for doing what it takes to help students love learning. Do not back down; rather, do what you know is right for your students. And let's shift from focusing on disruption in education to becoming the stewards for change that our students need.

More favorites from ISTE2016

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