ISTE 2013 was awesome. We were able to make connections with many people that we interact with regularly, but only through the digital realm. That is always exciting when you have the opportunity to discuss and collaborate with the people that already make great products for your students to use. I also believe that what makes their services so great is their willingness to listen and discuss the needs of teachers and students.
There was a lot of discussion at ISTE about PBL (project-based learning). One particular great resource was a session held by Andrew Miller. During that session, he spoke about how technology can play as the role for distributing the materials and content when giving the students a central question for students to pursue. Repeatedly he mentions the importance for students to have “voice and choice” when providing students with the opportunity to participate in PBL. Students should decide what they want to use to share their learning when pursuing the driving question. If you are interested in PBL, a great resource to look over is http://www.bie.org.
The image I posted above serves two purposes. First off, I just discussed PBL. Second, this may change much of how East Noble Schools provides professional development in the future. I’ve attended MACUL and FETC and neither of these large conferences had these “poster” sessions like ISTE. These were teachers, tech coaches, and even students providing professional development much like a science fair project. They had a display and you were able to discuss with the person face-to-face on their expertise. There were probably around fifty tables of various subjects for a total of two hours. After that time was up, there was an hour break and a fresh set of poster sessions took place. These sessions were extremely beneficial as I was able to gather the material in a matter of 10-15 minutes instead of sitting through a lecture for an hour.
As I already mentioned, these sessions included students in a few of the posters. This lead to an exciting experience as we were able to see how students were utilizing technology. There is even a video floating around Youtube of Zack and I making salsa. (However, I have yet to pinpoint the location of it.) After the video was created, the high school students created an app with a website called Appsbar. These students were extremely excited to share.
Another group of students were practicing their programming skills through a project they called Sparky. With this project, the students built their own robots and programmed them to move about. The cost is small as the parts can be obtained fairly easily and the software used for the programming is open source. Check it out for yourself from my Tweet during ISTE:
— Lance Yoder (@Mr_Yoder) June 25, 2013
To continue with the robotics and programming rant, Zack and I participated in a session held by Lego for their WeGo lego set. With it, students can create their own robot and program it to perform various tasks. Not only that, but it was a lot of fun. Believe it or not, WeGo is intended for lower elementary. How could would it be to come home as a first grade student and tell Mom or Dad that you made a robot in school? I’m not sure they would even believe you. 🙂 (Click on the link at the end of this Tweet.)
— Lance Yoder (@Mr_Yoder) June 24, 2013
Lastly, I’ll leave you with the closing Keynote by Adam Bellow. It was probably the highlight of the entire conference. He is passionate about how technology has provided us with the opportunity to reach out to our students and also give the students the opportunity to reach out to the world. (His portion begins roughly around the 22 minute mark.)