In addition to having AR and VR as the theme for the conference, there were lots of edtech company announcements that happened during ISTE. One was the new collaboration of CoSpacesEDU and Merge Cube! Their big announcement: in the near future students will be able to create their own Augmented Reality spaces in CoSpaces and view them through Merge Cube!?! What!?! I’m still blown away by this idea and so excited to try it out with my students. I feel like this is the next step in moving our students from AR/VR consumers to creators. And how perfect to announce during ISTE?
Speaking of CoSpacesEDU, while at ISTE I was asked to present and share the awesome things our students at Hall Fletcher Elementary School have been creating in CoSpaces. Any chance I have to share our students’ stories and projects, I jump for! This was an awesome opportunity to show off the creativity and critical thinking that our students have been doing not only to teachers but also to students. The students in the picture below are from California and I talked them into presenting after me. What a great group of smart girls! They were nervous to present but I told them, if I could do it I knew they could! I sat in the front row and cheered them on! They did awesome!
In addition to CoSpaces, I also had the opportunity to sit in on Jamie Donally’s AR and VR sessions. Man, I’m glad I did! I have been following Jamie on Twitter for the past year and have participated in a couple of her #ARVRinEDU Twitter Chats. (If you haven’t checked out this hashtag or participated in a chat, you should! You will learn a ton in a short amount of time!) She is amazing! I found myself during her session, not only taking tons of notes in my Google Keep, but also emailing and tweeting colleagues about the awesome tools that they could implement in their classroom. She shared a ton of apps including Rumi, Figment AR app, Morphi, and StoryFab.
I honestly feel the best part of ISTE are the amazing educators you meet. During Jamie’s session, I met an awesome teacher from Kansas who was just starting up a MakerSpace and had been using AR and VR in her media center for a couple of years. It was awesome to share ideas with each other about what our students are doing and what our spaces could look like. I feel like sometimes teachers go to conferences and focus on learning from the presenter, but most of the time they walk away learning so much from other teachers they’re interacting with. This is something I hope I never forget to do. We are often times so attached to our devices that we forget to talk with each other. Collaborate. Talk, Share. That’s what it’s all about!
I walked away from ISTE 2018 with a full heart, stuffed brain, and an expanded PLN. I have so many ideas that I want to implement and have shared with my colleagues. The best part is that I can and will continue the learning after ISTE with the awesome educators I had the opportunity to meet!
Darcy Grimes is a veteran North Carolina Educator, and Senior STEM Innovator for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT).
Welcome to Chicago! As the 2018 Outstanding Teacher, I had the privilege to represent NCTIES at ISTE this year. I arrived in Chicago with more than 20,000 other educators excited to enhance my teaching and explore what was new in the ed tech field.
ISTE has so many opportunities that happen at the same time, planning out your day is challenging but necessary.
While the vendors have shiny new things and lots of giveaways (a teacher favorite), you need to balance that option with general learning in keynotes, quick learning bites in the poster sessions, and deeper learning in the concurrent sessions. In addition to the learning opportunities, the networking is amazing. Once you think you are done with the day, there are always vendor events in the evening. This year, EdTech Karaoke and a baseball game were big events after hours.
Before I left North Carolina, I had a plan loaded up in the ISTE app. I decided to focus on what I could bring back to my school and what would deepen my learning. I decided to focus my learning on computer science, engineering, and data. In addition, I had a list of vendors that my schools uses or is thinking about using. This list helped me stay focused in the gigantic, like several football fields, vendor hall. Lastly, I wanted to reconnect with several educators from all over the US. I have a mentor in South Carolina, Google Innovator peers from multiple states, and other educators that I follow on Twitter. These conversations and connections bring another level of learning.
My favorite keynote started with the music group, Musicality, which was featured on America’s Got Talent. Following the music, we heard from the president of ISTE, Andy Weir, Katie Martin, and Michael Cohen. Each keynote was extremely inspiring and full of passion. I left the keynote ready to get back into my classroom and make a difference in the lives of my students.
I learned a lot of little tricks walking through poster sessions on augmented reality and 3D printing, while my deeper learning occurred attending a longer workshop on digital badges. I was thrilled to attend Sylvia Martinez’s session on creativity. After reading her book, Invent to Learn, I was inspired to write a grant with my librarian to start a makerspace. I credit her book with changing my mindset on what a library might look like and how we can empower students to be creative without a specific assignment or a specific task.
While I received a lot of new shiny giveaways, including a pair of Moby (from Brainpop) socks, I tried to have conversations with vendors to deepen my learning of the products we already use at my school. I spoke with the creator of Project Ignite, which is now a part of Tinkercad, where I learned how to streamline my 3D printing process. I stopped in to talk with Bloxels to learn more about the new educator’s hub. I looked at lots of options to use my class set of Spheros and I stopped in and talked to Renaissance learning about how my school can improve how we use STAR data to make decisions. The EdTech Team booth had short sessions throughout the conference including an amazing experience to learn sketchnoting with Sylvia Duckworth.
My evening sessions were focused on networking. Google offered an event for Google trainers and innovators where several new products and updates were shared. Future Design School set up an amazing event where you were partnered up with someone and completed a design sprint. These ‘beyond the conference’ sessions were just as valuable as the conference sessions.
I left ISTE with a Google Keep folder of pictures, quotes, products, and other ideas to try out this year. In addition, the feeling that you “don’t know what you don’t know” made ISTE an amazing adventure. Next year, ISTE will be a lot closer. So mark your calendar for June 23-26 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Susan Jinks @drjinks is a middle school CTE teacher in Moore County. She was honored to receive the NCTIES Outstanding Teacher award in 2018.
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