ISTE 2014 Reflections and Plans

ISTE 2014 in Atlanta was over the weekend and if I had to describe it in one word, it would be Overwhelming.  Yes, with a capital O.  When I first arrived, a line for the first set of Ignite sessions wrapped around the Georgia World Congress Center.  There were people everywhere!  So many people that I did not even get to attend the Ignite session, but things got better.  They had televisions set up around the conference center, where the sessions were being broadcast live.

Later, there were some networking events for various groups (Librarians Network, Young Educators Network, etc.), which was fantastic because I had the opportunity to meet with some of the people that I have interacted with on Twitter, but have never met in real life.  Meeting my Twitter friends was definitely a highlight of the entire conference for me!  Some of the people that I met at the networking session were Sherry Gick, Jennifer LaGarde, Donna McDonald, Okle Miller, Andy Plemmons and Tiffany Whitehead.

The SIGLIB Playground was a great place to learn on Saturday morning.  Andy Plemmons shared how he uses Google Hangouts to connect his students with others around the country.  Sherry Gick and Matthew Winner shared their Earth Pals project and how they have sponsored Genius Hour activities in their library media centers.  There were several other presenters that I would have loved to hear, but time just did not allow (Linda Dougherty, Donna McDonald, Jenn Brower, and Tiffany Whitehead).

The poster sessions were unique.  It was fun to wander from table to table to hear about the fun ways that technology is being integrated in schools internationally.  QR codes were everywhere for participants to scan and learn more about the topic being shared.  One of my favorite poster sessions was by Pascale Gendron, who presented about a collaboration between a language teacher and a science teacher  in which the students created videos to share their learning.  Another cool poster session was by Heather Miller, who shared music videos that her students had made to tell about concepts they had learned in their history class.  The poster session was titled, “Gleek out to U.S. History by Making Rock Opera.”  The video presentations in both of the poster sessions were amazing!  You could tell that the students wanted to create the best possible video for both of these projects.  Several of the poster sessions had student presenters, who were beyond excited to share their creations with teachers.  One young student (probably a 2nd grader) approached me to show his technology “How-to” videos that he had created and produced using iMovie.  His confidence and pride in his work was inspiring!  The teachers that brought the students for Discover Cedros Tech Tips should be commended for the positive impact they are making on the lives of their students!

Some of the lecture-style sessions that I attended were by Rushton Hurley, Dr. Robert Dillon, and Dr. Warren Goetzel.  Hurley and Dillon’s presentations both dealt with student-produced videos.  Each offered an interesting and engaging perspective of getting students involved and sharing their stories in an engaging way.  Dr. Goetzel presented ideas about grant possibilities for schools and school libraries, as well as giving tips on how to write a successful grant application.  The tips given by Dr. Goetzel have definitely inspired me to pursue a myriad of grant possibilities for our school’s library media center.

The exhibition hall was huge and I visited for a little while each day, but still did not see all of the booths.  I could go on for hours about the expo.

Having lunch with some of the friends that I have met on Twitter and Skype, but had never met in person until ISTE was a highlight of my trip, too!  Getting to talk face to face with Kathy Schmidt and Shawn Hinger over lunch was so much fun!  It is not often that media specialists have time to sit and share with others within this profession.  Collaboration with teachers and book fairs were just a couple of the topics that we discussed during our visit.  The construction workers that joined us just added to our experience!

During the Genius Hour panel, Vicki Davis challenged the attendees to think of three things that you want to do differently next school year as a result of what you have learned at ISTE 2014.

Here are the three things that I want to do next year as a result of what I have learned:

  1. Encourage my students to share their own personal stories (possibly through a project like the one defining moment video that Dr. Robert Dillon shared).  Dr. Dillon shared that students need to gain understanding from their peers through the stories that they write and share, which can also promote empathy.  Fostering empathy, giving students choice, and allowing students to have pride in their work is something that I think can be accomplished through promoting student video production within our school’s library media center.
  2. Pursue grants often to continue to improve and develop our media collection.  Create a reading program that can be used for grant applications and make sure that the program can be clearly understood by a variety of audiences.
  3. Use a variety of ways to present the positive story of learning that is occurring within my school to a wide audience.  The library forum on Marketing Your School Library gave me several new ideas to promote media resources to students, show parents that the media center is a real place for learning, and to spread a positive view of our school to outside stakeholders.  My first steps will be to develop a Youtube account for student-produced videos and as a place to showcase the learning within our school and to create a Twitter account to share photos of teaching and learning.