Several Thoughts after My First ISTE Conference:
1. This conference contained lots of awesome tech! This technology, however, will not help students unless they are doing awesome things. Numerous people have said it, “It’s not about the device.” It’s what kids are doing with the device that matters. We must get students to think and solve problems. We must get students engaged in authentic ways. Technology has made it easy to connect, collaborate and communicate in a global way. However, it is imperative that we model for students how to make a difference using technology.
2. There are a lot of educators focused on improving learning for teachers as well as Ss. Many of the sessions I attended focused on improving professional development for teachers. Some used gamification to motivate teachers. Some utilized teacher choice to make PD more relevant. Some used online platforms like Google Classroom to deliver PD content to teachers in an on demand environment. Many educators are looking for PD that is more meaningful and relevant to their everyday role. @MsMagiera presented a session to close Wednesday focusing on some excellent ways to engage teachers in conversation and exploration for the purpose of learning. Other sessions focused on how educators could create their own PD if their district was not providing relevant sessions for them. At a session on creating reflective learners, @claudia_felske shared the following video, which I think captures how educators feel sometimes:
Sometimes, as educators, it is our responsibility to step off of the escalator!
3. We must focus on continuing to teach parents, students, and teachers about digital footprints and digital citizenship. I was able to attend an excellent session on engaging families and the community on #digitallife for students. An important discussion must occur about how students are utilizing technology. We must involve students, teachers, and parents in this important discussion. By teaching and modeling responsibility when using social media, we can give students a better online experience.
4. Engaging students in authentic learning opportunities is important. Many of the vendors and sessions focused on giving students hands-on learning activities based around STEM, STEAM, robotics, coding and programming. These activities are meaningful because they are allowing students to answer questions, solve problems, and ultimately, feel a sense of accomplishment. One of the most fun ways that I saw to provide students with hands-on, problem solving activity was a session on how 6th grade students created Rube Goldberg machines to accomplish simple tasks. Dr. Zeitz (@zeitz) presented several ways that students can use critical thinking skills to answer an essential question. Students must design, reflect, fail, and try again until they solve the problem. When we talk about the importance of growth mindset, this type of activity can truly allow students to fail forward!
While I learned a great deal, and saw many things that will help me to improve my craft, I also left the conference with some questions about how we can continue to improve and engage students in the process. Thank you to all who made my first ISTE a wonderful learning experience!