My 1st ISTE Part 2

Familiar Faces
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.

About Philadelphia
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!

My 1st ISTE Part 1

Wow. I have finally made my first pilgrimage to the Ed Tech “Mecca”, ISTE. If you are a “newbie” like me, you may not know what it stands for; ISTE=International Society for Technology in Education. It is the premier conference for educators using technology in the classroom. I have been selected to receive 15 iPad 2s for my class next year, as well as a set of 32 ActivExpressions, alphanumeric “clickers” for students to text answers to questions I ask in class. One of the main reasons I came to ISTE this year was to learn some innovative ways to use the equipment I currently have and the new tools I am getting next year. However, as I embrace a personal lifestyle defined by minimalism, I can’t help but crave “less stuff” in my classroom. For this reason, I am trying to avoid hanging out in the exhibit hall, where I am sure to find some cool new tech tool that I “cannot live without”!
Exhibit Hall
If you enjoy exhibit halls at conferences, you would lo-o-o-o-ve ISTE!!! There is no exhibit hall that I’ve seen that even comes close to ISTE. It is overwhelming, bustling, and chock full of everything you go to exhibit halls to see– new ideas, free giveaways, and every vendor you’ve never heard of! I was a little taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the vendor presence at this conference, and frankly, a little turned off. I get it, people come to conferences like this to connect with vendors to find tech solutions for their schools, but for me, it is a gross display of the commodification of our kids’ education. Every one wants a piece! That said, I will continue to avoid the exhibit hall, but if this is your thing, ISTE is the place to be!

Please do not let my rant about the exhibit hall lead you to believe that I am not enjoying this conference. Every interaction, session, and just passing through the tremendous halls of the Pennsylvania Convention Center has made this one of the most enriching experiences of my professional life. I plan to attend next year and in years to come. There is sooo much that I am getting from this conference, that it would be impossible to share in one post, so stay tuned! I have been taking really detailed notes and plan to share what I learn right here very soon! For now, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from sessions I’ve attended so far:

“What is OBVIOUS to you, is obvious to YOU!” -Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules

“Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.”-Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The Leader in Me

“Treat a man as he is and you make him worse than he is. Treat a man as he has the potential to become and you make him better than he is.” -Goethe