ISTE Day 1 Reflections

photo%202Wow, what a day. ISTE is an amazing experience. But, I’ll be honest, I’m exhausted. I’ve been out “conferencing” since 8:00 this morning. I entered this experience as a total newb–this is my first ISTE conference. So far, so good. In fact, I think ISTE 2014 will be one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. Our team flew in yesterday, registered, and got everything in order. Today, however, was our first real day of conference activities. Here’s what I did:

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A smartphone charging locker

This morning I attended a 3-hour workshop “Make BYOD Programs Work for You” hosted by three educators, Dan Morris, Ryan Imbriale, and Susan Brooks-Young. This workshop stressed how schools can make BYOD initiatives work better. The presenters stressed the need to formulate BYOD goals around current research. Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up reports are a great place to start if schools want to find data to inform their educational technology programs. The speakers also stressed the need for school leaders to clearly define goals and ensure that continued support is given to teachers as they try and implement those goals in their classrooms. Ryan had a great line during his part of the presentation: “Teachers are comfortable with smartphones in a social setting but not necessarily in a classroom setting.” One of my favorite parts of the presentation was an icebreaker scavenger hunt  where we tried to find people in the room who had done things like “tweeted this week” or “in the last week accessed the digital cloud.” (you can find the activity on my Twitter feed). Overall, it was a great workshop, not just because the presenters were knowledgeable and organized but because they also encouraged attendees to connect with others in the room throughout the session. In short, it was one of the best workshops I’ve ever attended.

Our cab ride to ISTE selfie
Our cab ride to ISTE selfie

In the afternoon I attended ISTE Ignite, where about 12 speakers gave 5-minute, 20-slide presentations. My favorites were:

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ISTE Ignite

Pat Yongpradit, Director of Education at Code.org, who spoke about the importance of teaching kids to code. He wondered how all students can be prepared for future jobs when they aren’t taking computer science.

Jennie Magiera, a teacher and co-founder of PLAYDATE, spoke about the importance of educators taking control of their professional development.

Rafranz Davis, an instructional technology specialist from Texas, spoke about the power of having kids create and sharing their creations with the world. She shared the experiences of a student named Braeden who wanted to make puppets and how his journey making and sharing forever changed his life. You can read about Braeden’s journey here.

And of course, a special shout-out goes to Nick Provenzano, aka the Nerdy Teacher, who sang the Phineas and Ferb theme song to about 2,000 people.

After Ignite, I toured the ISTE Social Media Meetup with the rest of our team. When your district’s technology director snuggles an inflatable dinosaur, you know the day was a success.

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Day two is tomorrow. If it was anything like today, it’s going to be great.

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