Sunday, July 21, 2013

ADE Institute North America - Austin Texas 2013

I’ve spent the past week at the most incredible professional development of my career.  You see, a few months ago I found out that I was chosen to be a part of the Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013 (ADE Class of 2013).  To be a part of this special program I had to go through a rigorous application process which included four essay questions, and the creation of a two minute video.  There were only 50 spots available in Canada and I know many equally deserving people had applied.  So when I found out that I was chosen the significance of it’s importance was not lost on me.  It is a true honour to have been chosen.
Landing in Austin 
Fast forward a few months, to this past week at the ADE Institute North America in Austin, Texas.  Wow! There isn’t much more than I can say.  In true Apple style I was blown away by both the calibre of people and the quality educational opportunities that were presented to me. Having never experienced anything like this before there really is something special about ADEs. 

Each day was jam packed with  sessions.  In terms of Apple software I learned more about iBook Author, iTunes U , Keynote, Final Cut Pro X, and Motion. Much of what I learned was way over my head, but the ADE family and the actual software creators were extremely patient with me.  We had keynote sessions from  Nancy Duarte, Rebecca Stockley, Sarah Herrlinger, and Bill Franks and Laura Heald. I was also able to meet several of my favourite app developers during the Meet the Developers session.

In addition each day I was able to attend "creative agency" sessions which were small group drop in sessions.  Here I learned more about photography, iBook Author, Final Cut Pro, and Motion.

Keynote Speaker Nancy Duarte and her Story Visual
Meeting Book Creator Dan
Meeting Reshan Richards of Explain Everything
The brain exploding learning was only one of the highlights of the week. If you know me at all I am all about the people and the relationships that I build.  The ADE Institute amplified this for me over and over again.  First off  I was extremely happy when I found out that not one but three of my friends from #1stchat were chosen to be ADEs too.  The institute allowed us to meet face to face for the very first time.  Being able to sit and learn with them for five days straight was a dream come true.  And it went way beyond learning.  We supported each other when we were totally over whelmed, laughed tons, and shared personal stories.  I still smile when I think about our time together and how lucky we were to be together so much.
Kathy and Kristen meeting F2F for the first time.
 #1schat gang Kristin, Kristen, me, and Kathy 

I also had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with many other inspiring educators as well.  My official ADE personal learning network included my incredible #1stchat crew along with Maury, Elaine, Robyn, Liz, Rich, Myrella, and Katie.  These people listened when I had questions, and encouraged me when I needed it.  They are the people who are providing me feedback on my One Best Thing chapter. They are all incredible educators too and I am so thankful to be learning with them as well.
Gillian, Kathy and I 

I also loved all the other ADEs and Apple staff that I met while in Austin.  The generous sharing of knowledge was beyond anything I have seen before.  And what really stuck for me was how incredibly generous and supportive everyone was.  Unlike at other conferences where I felt that there was a bit of a class system of the “cool kids” and the “less cool kids” I had no feeling of that at the Institute.  Every single person I met was genuine and supportive of me and what I’m doing with my students.  Every single person!  I can’t stress that enough.  It was like I had finally met the people who really got me.  It was over 300 people that really got me.  And I understood them too.  I was surrounded by incredible brilliance, yet everyone was humble and supportive. There was no ego, just knowledge, support, and sharing.
Kathy, Kristin, Kristen, and Robyn - some of the amazing rockstars in my ADE PLN.
Although our time was very full I still managed to sneak away to see the bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge, snuck in a mini run around the University of Texas, and walked around Austin.

The bats flying our from under the bridge.

Texas State Capital Building
University of Texas Clock Tower
(aka view from my hotel room)
Now that I'm home it's time for me to get started on the one project that I am required to submit to Apple - my One Best Thing.  Over the next few weeks I will be working on a chapter in iBook Author which focusses on starting with choice in a primary classroom.  My chapter will focus on the why, and how of providing choice.  My hope is that my chapter will help support those who would like to offer their students more choice but just aren't sure where or how to start.  In addition I hope that it will shed light on new and innovative ways to provide choice as well.   I have many ideas zipping through my head, including some incredible video footage of inspiring educators who are providing more and more choice in their classrooms. It will be a labour of love.

Now, I can't end this post without thanking the incredible team from Apple.  They went above and beyond in so many ways.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I was just given. THANK YOU!


  1. Thanks for sharing your amazing week with us!

    1. I wish I was a better writer Louise. These words don't even begin to do it justice.

  2. I think you are going to be my go to, don't miss blogger this year. I want to be where you are by next year. Meaning, I want to know what I want to work on and I want to get really good at it because I love it so much. Maybe that's technology, maybe not. But I really respect you.

    First in Maine

    1. Wow, thanks Kimberley. My biggest piece of advice is to do what makes you happy. I have had a pretty amazing year but it has come with a lot of hard work and "stick to it" ness too. I'll never really be where I want to be but my goal isn't to get to a specific end point but more to enjoy every step of the journey. Karen

  3. Way to go, Karen! You always make my wheels turning:) I'm looking forward to many more years of collaboration and inspiration!

    1. Thanks Leka. I can't wait to be skyping regularly with Iowa again this year if you'll have us again. Such fun we had, or should I say our students had. :-)

  4. You have experienced so many amazing things this past year. What I admire the most about you is that even though you have done and learned a tremendous amount you are still hungry for more. You are such an inspirational learner!

    1. Thank you AM. As I've said before the more I learn the less I know and I can assure you ADE was no exception. While it was tough feeling so over whelmed it was great to meet so many incredibly bright people. K

  5. What an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Jennifer. I am very fortunate that I was able to spend time with so many inspiring people who were genuinely nice too. Since being back home, and working on my project the support has continued to flow. It's a truly wonderful community. Karen