If I Were Attending ISTE…..

In about 2 weeks — many of my friends and colleagues will be descending upon Denver to attend the ISTE conference.

Alas, I will not be able to join them there…..

but if I were — this is what I would do.

#1.   LINGER
Usually, at the conference, I am moving from session to session.  In fact, sometimes sitting in a session just to get a seat for the next session.   It is an exhausting conference because it is a “have to get to” conference.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to linger more.   Not move onto something else before I took to time to think about what I have just done.   Not dash from a conversation I am in….just to join another….but take the time to linger in a conversation.  To not give importance to what is “NEXT” and perhaps miss what is “NOW.”

As a seasoned educator, who has my feet wet in a lot of “techie” opportunities, I tend to sit back and say “impress me.”   So instead of listening, I am critiquing.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to listen more.  Remove myself from being an expert and put myself into a the role of a learner.   Not always judge the content based on what I already know and what how I already use — but be impressed by what someone else might be doing or might already know.   Look for something NEW to learn rather than always having the silent checkmark of “did it, did it, did it.”

#3.  WATCH
There is A LOT happening at the conference and there is a great deal of dashing happening at the conference.   And because of this, a lot of things get overlooked.  As simple as the decorations in the conference hall (which usually are quite interesting) to someone sitting alone in a session room to what book someone might be reading to the t-shirt someone chose to wear.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to watch more.
Keep my eye open for opportunities of vision.  Notice things that perhaps are unnoticed.  Call attention to things others might wish to see.   Look to see what someone else might be looking at.   Take the time to look.

Many times at the conference, people go to be heard.  For many, what they are doing on their campus is unnoticed at their campus and finally they can share this with others who not only understand but will also acknowledge their hard work.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to share out stories from those who stories often remain silent.   Take the time to blog or facebook or twitter out someone’s great idea (giving them full credit) — and putting them into the spotlight.

Though many think I am an extrovert…..I am not.   I can be quite timid and often will sit back and wait to be approached rather than approach.  I have this silly insecurity of not fitting in, so I set myself up to not fit in.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to join into conversations, walk up to someone who I might be afraid to walk up to, not head to my hotel room at 6 but join some after parties, and be brave to sit by someone I don’t know at a session and say “hi.”

#6.  SHARE
For the time you are at ISTE, from the moment you get up each day to the moment your head hits the pillow — you have an opportunity to learn…..MUCH.   To the point that your brain will be tired each day by the overload of information.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to set aside at least 1 hour of each day to reflect and share out what I learned.
Whether it be during a dinner conversation with friends, or a blog post, or links placed on twitter or a google doc, I would take time to process, reflect, and then share what I learned.

#7.  PLAY
In the last few years, educational conferences have taken a turn from providing “listen to me” sessions to much more “hands-on” opportunities.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to look for the “fun” opportunities.   The breakout edu area, the minecraft room, the robotics session, anything that allows me to touch, to explore, to experiment, to learn.  Personally, I would make sure that at least 60% of my learning options involved being able to “touch.”

ISTE presenters have known now for several months their topic — and many have been fine-tuning what they will say and are ready to share.   Also, many of the ISTE presenters are no longer in the classroom and have ventured (or hope to venture) into the world of consulting.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to ask more questions from those who are presenting.   Not to challenge — but to understand more.   If someone has left the classroom and is giving me ideas to use in my classroom — I would ask them to share examples from teachers who are using what they have just suggested.  If someone gives a quote or proven data, I will ask for the link to research it later.  I would try hard to not be a passive attendee but engage more.

I would like to be at ISTE, but alas, I cannot.
But if I were to go — I would try to make this ISTE count — for me, for my teachers, for my students.

Please let me know, if you are attending ISTE (or any other conference) and perhaps some goals or plans you hope to put into place.

Thank you



3 years…..of learning

Each year — something new.

This is my 3rd year of being the Elementary Technology Teacher — and each year — something has been the highlight of the year.

My first year — I think DOT week (based on Peter Reynold’s book “the Dot”) was a highlight — especially with the Virtual Reality App that made the DOT come alive. We went from a flat white paper to something that jumped off the page….and the kids saw possibilities.

My second year — had to be CODING. Though we used it my first year…..the second year was when I saw the impact, the enjoyment, and the learning. I honestly wish I saw students more than 1 time a week. Sometimes I wish I was with them 8 hours a day — we would never run out of things to learn. Students began to grasp the idea that they could control and manipulate technology rather than just click, click, click …. and the kids saw possibilities.

My third year — was totally unexpected. In April, the day before OpenHouse, I was told we were getting a 3d Printer the following day on Friday. By Monday — I was already designing curriculum and a week later — 4th & 5th were working with tinkercad. And each student ended up creating something unique….and printed it out — to take home. I had a father thank me yesterday — and then again today. He said “my daughter is holding something in her hand that someday she will look back and say “i was there at the beginning of this.””. Students went from hearing science, and hearing math, and hearing metrics, to having to put it into action … and the kids saw possibilities.

When I look at my 3 years — which have flown by way too fast —

I know I am resting on some past ideas (imovie trailers, skittle graphs, powerpoint gameshows, wordle picture clouds, etc.)…. But I also know that each year, I have stepped into an unknown possibility and my students have willingly followed (and sometimes lead) along.

I have no idea what will be new in 2016/17 — but I look forward to another new step forward…..and seeing possibilities.

I Can’t Play Baseball

I can’t play baseball

I like to watch baseball but I can’t play baseball.

There are many things that could go wrong.

  • The fear of failure
  • The fear of not being able to connect the bat to the ball
  • The fear of getting hit
  • The fear of not making it to the base on time (or tripping on the way)
  • The fear of being tagged out
  • The fear of not knowing whether to run or to wait
  • The fear of not catching the ball as it comes sailing through the air
  • The fear of not being good enough
  • The fear of letting the team down
    I could add more…….

There are so many things that I know I am not good at — that lead me to not play baseball.

And for those of you who are NOT afraid of baseball or are at least comfortable enough to not let it scare you — my fears, to you, might be irrational, silly, and you might even judge me.

I know what I probably need is a good coach….
but NOT a good coach who is going to try to convince me that those fears are unfounded
— instead I need a coach who helps me to deal with those fears and little by little, perhaps not conquer them…..but to encourage me to not let them keep me from playing the game at all.

And that’s a lot like tech.

You see, I am good at Tech
I enjoy tech and I’m not afraid of tech
….but to explain that to someone who is terrified of tech, I’m not going to win them over by telling them how simple it is.
I’m not going to win them over by proving to them their thoughts are wrong and/or irrational.
I’m not going to win them over by pushing my comfortableness against their uncomfortableness.

What will help is when I am willing to help them work with these fears in a way that works for them.
Not shaming them or comparing them or even pushing them….but realizing that their fear might be totally justified and might also be the wall that they see is WAY too hard to get around or over and even through.

My job is NOT to tell them to go “hit the ball out of the park” –
Sometimes, my job is to encourage them to be willing to even pick up the bat or the ball or even be willing to sit on the bench.

And then, we go from there.


The Anticipation of a Good Idea

This past week, in San Diego, several friends (from all over the US) journeyed to the NCEA conference.   Since it was just 1 hourish away, I suggested we have a dinner meetup — and ended up having dinner with 6 great educators.

I invited dragged  Donna — a 1st grade teacher & my bible study leader & my friend — along for the ride (for the company & conversation).

We had a Walton’s type of table, so I sat at the head of the table for the beginning of the meal and then moved to the end for the remainder of the meal so that I had a chance to chat with everyone.

And oh — what we shared.   Minecraft, Blogging, Coding, 3D printers, App ideas, Projects, Memories (from past conferences), Class Ideas, and some personal stories as well.   The conversation never stopped.

On the way home, as we were chatting — Donna mentioned about the excitement — the enthusiasm at the table — and I remembered again “That is WHY I love meeting up with educators WHENEVER possible.”

Whether it be on twitter or facebook or at a conference or an edcamp or a meal or a coffee cue or a Tweet Meet or ……………feel free to fill in the blank.

I always know — with almost 100% percent certainty — that there will be at least ONE good idea shared whenever I meet up with teachers – and because of this, I go.

There is a joy — an exuberance — and a sense of “I love being creative in my classroom” that happens at these events.   And sadly, it does not often happen on our own campuses.

The conversation last night never stopped — and the conversation overlapped in so many places that there was no way to listen to it all — but we all went away with new ideas, we all went away having been heard, we all went away ready to gear up for the last 9 weeks of school and END IT WELL!

It is always great to see friends — both new and old.
And it is always great to hear new, creative, teacher tested (almost always) ideas that can be used in our own classroom or shared with another teacher on campus.