One of the most fun things about ISTE is getting to meet the people you interact with online, face to face. If you are an edu-blogger or tweeter, then you may know Twitter personalities like @web20classroom, @mbteach, @bethstill, @gwynethjones (The Daring Librarian) and other prolific Tweeters in the edtech world. They were all at ISTE, presenting, participating in “tweet-ups” and hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe. I had the chance to meet Shelly Terrell, AKA @shellterell, teacher leader and edtech tweep with over 15,000 followers. Although we have talked a few times on Twitter, we never met in person (she lives in Germany!) Being the EdTech Mecca that it is, ISTE is the perfect place to meet up with your teaching Tweeps, Facebook followers, Tumblrs or any other educator you’ve connected with virtually!
Sessions and Speakers
When I heard that THE Stephen Covey would be a keynote speaker at ISTE this year, I almost had a heart attack. Seriously. I read his most famous book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, years ago, and have lived according to its principles ever since. I was definitely disappointed when his face showed up on the big screen as opposed to his actually being there, but again, what would you expect from a tech conference? In spite of my initial disappointment, I was not disappointed by Dr. Covey’s presentation on his latest book, The Leader in Me. It is basically an overview of how the 7 Habits were successfully used to turn around failing schools. Muriel Summers, principal of A.B. Coombs Elementary, the first school to successfully implement the 7 Habits as a turnaround program, was there in person with two of her students, who impressed the crowd with their knowledge of the habits and their articulation of how their lives were changed by Dr. Covey’s principles.
John Medina, author of Brain Rules, was the opening keynote speaker, and I was really intrigued by what he had to say about how the human brain works. A molecular biologist by trade, Dr. Medina spoke about the brain and its behavior from a sceintific point of view while offering implications for educators. I was so impressed by his presentation, I bought the Kindle version of his book right away. At the time, it was $3 on Amazon! At this point, it’s $7, but still worth the buy/read. Check out the ISTE channel on YouTube to see videos of the keynotes and many more highlights from the conference.
Philly, home to Ben Frankin, Rocky Balboa, and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is a city steeped with history. I shared a small hotel room with fellow blogger/tweeter Paula Naugle right in the heart of downtown only a few blocks away from the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This was great, since everything I wanted to see was either a short walk or trolley ride away. I’ve been to Philly a few times before, and already visited the Liberty Bell and a few other places of interest. This time, I made it my mission to run up the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before I left. It’s intense, but I did it! There’s also a Rocky statue in front of the museum that everyone takes photos with. Another must-see attraction in Philly is the Reading (pronounced “redding”) Market. It is adjacent to the Convention Center, and it’s a great place to grab lunch, or a book, or some herbs, or some jewelry, or fresh produce–I think you get it, they have everything! It looks like a train station or warehouse that has been turned into an awesome market with a wide variety of vendors. NCTM 2012 is in Philadelphia, so if you go, be sure to schedule some time to check out this awesome city and grab a Philly cheesesteak for me!
All in all, I truly enjoyed my 1st ISTE and cannot wait for ISTE 2012 in San Diego. There’s something for everyone-vendors, bloggers, great presenters and keynoters, and above all, an opportunity to mingle and connect with other teachers who enjoy technology as much as I do! I hope to present next year as well, so please wish me luck…I hope I’ll see you there!