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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