I am a new primary teacher with the Vancouver School District after over 26 years as a K-3 teacher with Surrey Schools in British Columbia, Canada. With 25+ years of experience and a bunch of improvements along the way, I still have so much more to learn. This blog is a way to help me process and share all that I'm discovering on my quest to be the best educator I can be.
The past two years I have learned over and over again that I never really know what I don't know until I learn something new. And more importantly I have to be open to learn something new. My time at ISTE was filled with moments like that. As I take the time to reflect on the remaining days at ISTE, and I read others reflections on ISTE, I am reminded over and over again what an incredible opportunity I had in front of me, and as much as I tried to make the most of it, I know I still missed out on so much of what the conference had to offer me.
Monday morning I attended my first official session "Personalize Learning through Innovative Uses of Technology". I don't know if it's because my students already have so much "personalized control" over their learning, or that because I'm a connected educator and I am constantly reading about innovative ways to teach, but very little of what was being presented in this session was new to me. In fact I spent a lot of time thinking about using technology to give feedback and how that works with student achievement. I, and my program specifically, is so much about personal connections and real conversations around learning. Yes, a computer program can collect data, but can it really help guide a student forward with their learning. I'm not sure I want my students personalized learning to be dictated by a computer program.
After the session I spent some time on the convention floor chatting with the vendors. Wow, the vendor floor was huge and as much as I tried to visit every booth, I must admit I moved quickly from vendor to vendor. I guess in my role as a grade one teacher I have very little voice when it comes to purchasing equipment for my school district. I also know that money is really tight back home and so while I may have seen some really amazing products, I am working in a school that desperately needs basic tools like functioning laptops for students to use. However the absolute highlight of this vendor visit was meeting Peter Reynolds, the author of many amazing books including The Dot. Last year my class and I participated in DOT DAY and this year we will again too. It was great to chat with Peter.
Peter Reynolds and I
Another highlight of Monday was meeting Julie Ramsay. I was connected to Julie via Lara Zeises Deloza with the International Reading Association. Lara has been wanting Julie and I to connect both virtually and face to face for a while now. Julie and I snuck off the convention site and headed for coffee near by. The conversation was great as we shared how we are transforming education with the use of technology. Transformation is key for both of us as we both get frustrated when we see people using technology as just really expensive drill and practice devices. The connection was good and I'm very thankful Lara pushed us together. If I am able to get to all the conferences I want to attend next year Lara, Julie, and I will all be face to face at the International Reading Conference in New Orlenes.
Me and Julie
I returned from coffee to attend my first official ticketed session. Some how I stumbled across these special free but ticketed sessions that required you to register in advance. I managed to register in one for each day (you can only attend one a day) but unfortunately I was too late to register for any of the BYOD sessions - those must have filled up really quickly but next year I will make sure to register earlier and try to get into them - more on next year later).
My ticketed session was My Global Voice: Publishing with iBooks Author. As a brand new ADE I know that what we will be focussing on in Austin is publishing with iBooks Author. Since I've never used it before I figured I'd better learn so that I wouldn't arrive in Austin completely clueless. I ended up downloading their fantastic resource from iTunes U for using iBooks Author. You can download it here too. There was way more than an hours worth of information in the course, but between now and July 13th when I head to Austin for the Apple Institute I will have some time to play with it.
From there I headed to a session titled "Augmented Reality: Student-Created AR Fascinates and Engages Kids and Parents" . What I failed to mention on the first post is that on Sunday I spent time with Drew and Brad from Two Guys with some iPads talking about this exact thing. It is something I know I want to try with my young learners but the trick for me is to find ways that they can do it independently. I most certainly see a big buddy little buddy project with this. A lot of what was shared at this session can be found here.
After a bit more F2F chatting in the Blogger's cafe I headed back for a quick change before making my way to an evening of get togethers. That's the thing about ISTE, while there is a ton to do during the day, there is also a ton to do during the evening too. I was fortunate to have heard about a variety of events and managed to attend some of them too. So on Monday evening I made an appearance at the YEN Social Event, Showbie's Martini Monday, the Mindshare Learning Can-Am gathering. I then met up with the entire Surrey School District crew for appies on the Riverwalk. It was the first time all eight of us where at the same place at the same time. It was great to be with my "peeps" from back home.
From there a few of us headed to the Gaggle Party which was a ton of fun too. It was a late night and I had to be mindful of the time because I had scheduled my official ISTE photo and video shoot for 9:00 am the following morning.
The ISTE photo and video shoots went well so I'll be curious to see if any of my photos (or video clips) show up any where on the ISTE website or in their publications. It was a fun experience although I will admit I was very nervous before hand.
Immediately after the photo shoot I met Dr. Garry Bitter, He is an active ISTE member and set up the Kay L Bitter award in memory of his wife. He was the most fascinating man to speak with -bright, kind and very genuine. A real highlight of the entire time in San Antonio. He shared stories about his late wife Kay and how she went above and beyond to get technology into the hands of her young learners. I certainly hope I am continuing her passion with my integration of technology in the early years. Our time together was short but I enjoyed every minute of it. I couldn't help but smile as we chatted. I will do my very best to keep in contact with him too.
From there I headed to the poster sessions again as there were several tables I wanted to visit. It was here that I once again realized that I could easily be behind one of the tables presenting what my students are doing with technology. It has me thinking about actually submitting to present at ISTE next year - perhaps a hands on workshop, or a poster session, or a lecture type session. The more I saw at ISTE the more I realized that I have things to share that others could benefit from too. Particularly those that work with young learners.
I was suppose to attend another session but ended up back in the blogger's cafe meeting and talking with the ISTE board. It was an official session but pretty informal in nature. It was great though because the board was really keen to hear what we had to say, to take our suggestions, and listen to our feedback. It was here that I met all the ISTE board members. It was a very good session in fact and the best part of all is that I won the final door prize of complementary conference fees for ISTE 14! Yup, that's right it looks like I'm heading to Atlanta for ISTE 14!
Between winning my ISTE 2014 conference registration fee and attending my second ticketed session I was interviewed by Robert Martellacci from MindShare Learning. You can view that interview here.
I then attended my second ticketed session Learning Superheroes Connect: Innovation Collaborative Project Design. Here they shared many projects that they are doing at the district level. I loved seeing same grade students across the district involved in collaborative projects together. But again while the session was good, my students are already doing many similar projects but taking them even further. Being a connected educator really has its benefits and working in my school district has allowed me try new and innovative ways to learn.
Joan, Krissy, Cheryl, and I
After this session I had lunch with the most amazing ladies ever. Cheryl Steighner, Krissy Venosdale, and Joan Young and I are all part of the #eduparty group which meets regularly via google hangout. We all live in different parts of the world so it was quite amazing to have us all together. The only regret was that Ann Ottmar and Celina Brennan (also part of our group) couldn't be at ISTE. As you can imagine lunch was filled with wonderful conversation and tons of smiles. I am so glad we were able to arrange our schedules to make this work. And while I had spent time with most of them on their own at other times during the conference it was really great having us all together. They are truly amazing ladies and I am VERY FORTUNATE to be able to call them my friends.
Matt and I, finally meeting face to face
From lunch it was back to the blogger's cafe to finally meet Matt and Dan from Kidblog. I say finally because Matt and I have had many conversations and e-mail exchanges. I've been featured on their blog and I can't say enough about how wonderful they have been to me and my students. When I have an issue or concern they are quick to find a solution. Meeting them was another highlight.
I spent a bit of time back on the vendor floor and met Moby from Brain Pop.
I also had a meet up with my Global Collaboration friends Melvina, Louise, and Paula. And while waiting for us to meet up I had a wonderful time talking to Rodney Turner from Arizona.
I caught the third and final ignite session as well which was filled with many fast paced presentations. I liked the ignite sessions a lot. Basically you get 5 minutes to share 20 slides. I'd think for a presenter it's 5 minutes of pure torture. Well maybe not during the 5 minutes but definitely the minutes before you begin. It's funny though because as much as this totally freaks me out I kind of think it would be a fantastic challenge for me to do. If you know anything about me, taking challenges and pushing limits is something that I thrive on doing. It's doing something that my logical brain says is impossible, and I prove to the other side of my brain that it is possible. Hmm...
Tuesday night I had some time at a Discovery Education Canadian tweet up, and then played tourist a bit as a hung out on the River Walk and took one of the boat tours.
I was suppose to go to the EdTech Karaoke party but I went back to my hotel to moderate blog posts from my students back at home. Their posts were all directed at me, how much they missed me and loved me. They were tough to read because I was missing my class a lot too. I'm leaving my school after 18 years and so I will not see these students again. Needless to say by the time I responded to all their posts I really wasn't in the mood to join in the Karaoke fun. I was also completely exhausted having slept very little running non stop since before I left for Texas.
I think I've now written more than enough but still have more to share. Stay tuned for the third and hopefully final post on my time at ISTE13.