What a great time Philadelphia was for all of the ISTE participants this week. As I reflect upon all of the keynotes and lessons and personal experiences I had while I was there, the most important thing I must say first, is what a great city. It was very interesting to experience the weekend first and how the city shifts from weekend tourists, to the daily hustle and bustle come monday morning. I felt like the conference went the same exact way. It was very casual learning and getting-to-know-you on the weekend and then on Monday morning, the true deep-down learning of the conference began.
On Saturday, we spent a fun-filled day of learning with Discovery Education, celebrating 6 years of friendships and fun. The Day of Discovery was held at the Science School in downtown Philadelphia. It’s always fun to visit another city, but even more so when you can get a feel for the real city life, as we did in our day of learning at this local campus. Because my year has been so focused on 1:1 learning with the handheld devices, I found the iPad discussion with Steve Dembo to be an awesome way to kick off the day. He always has a way of taking something fun and making it even more exciting… as do many of the DEN members.
I followed that up with a great talk on assessment with Kyle Schutt and then classroom fun with Glogster and more presented by Tracy Blazowski. Both presentations where enlightening, but I have to point out that Tracy had the whole class excited to jump into Google Earth and some of the projects she has already created. The day had many highlights, but my favorite was the opportunity to celebrate the DEN’s 6th birthday with many of the original members and with cupcakes from DC Cupcakes, which were flown in that morning.
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to celebrate the opening ceremonies with my McKinney ISD counterparts who were awarded with ISTE’s Innovative Classroom Project Award for their Maybelle the Cockroach Project. It was exciting to sit with all of ISTE’s award winners for the ceremony and celebrate what they are doing to improve education all over the world.
The classes on Monday where wonderful. I spent time listening to Will Richardson speak on 8 Shifts for Every Curriculum. I also went to a DELL Panel discussion where a group of middle school and high school students where asked a series of questions on how they felt about connected technology in education. I really enjoyed this session because the kids all spoke from their heart about technology in their daily lives. They expanded on how teachers can impact their student’s lives through meaningful uses of technology in and out of the classroom. I spent quite a bit of time during this day connecting with others and discussing successful projects of the past year and ideas for the future. It’s always fun to reflect and share with people in your district and with others from around the country.
I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the fun that happened during the day on Monday. With the use of technology, people at the conference where able to find out about, learn and participate in ISTE’s first ever Flash Mob. I must admit, it was very cool. Although I signed up to participate, I decided to get there early and find a good vantage point to document the fun.
Tuesday was a fantastic morning. We had the honor of hearing Franklin Covey speak about 7 Principals of Highly Effective People and his new book A Highly effective Me. He shared his experiences from over the years and then delved into a particularly important experience that led to his new book. The new book focuses on how one school took those seven principals and incorporated them into their school. The school was able to turn what was a failing campus into one of the best schools in the state. The principal of the school then shared her experiences and also shared two of her students with us. The students spoke frankly about how these principals had transformed their school and their lives.
I also spent some time that day learning about different universities around the country with graduate programs that embed technology into their pedagogy. I look forward to one day taking on the challenge of getting my doctorate. It is interesting how much we as educational technology leaders want to keep learning in our field. It is also interesting that web-based Doctorate’s in Instructional Media or are almost non-existent. If you are out there… give me a tweet!
I attended several other talks during the week that included information on infographics, web 2.0 and more. I also had the opportunity to get locked out of several sessions due to popularity, but still followed along right outside the door thanks to the amazing people inside willing to stream the class through ustream.
The best parts of the week where those unexpected things that were slightly outside the box. I loved Polyvisions Cool Zone outside where they kindly served free snow cones to all who dared the great outdoors. The students digital light show on the side of the building during the evening was definitely amazing for all who happened by it. Happening upon glio, who was secretely painting their logo in chalk all the way around the city on Tuesday night was pretty cool too. My favorite part though was the last morning which celebrated our districts personal success.
Its an awesome experience when you can share a passion with so many people that are right there in your own district. On Wednesday morning, me and my counterparts, with Mary Carole Strother at the helm, led a sell-out crowd into the world of Maybelle the Cockroach and web 2.0. It was a fantastic opportunity to share the things that our district has done with others who might find it a great future project for themselves. Although, the model classroom can get very noisy and is in constant motion, I can assure you it was a great learning experience for almost everyone that attended. Some even got their own little cockroach to take home.
As I sit on the plane now and reflect upon what I learned this week, I’d have to say I am walking away with one slogan. “Either move over or buckle up because educational change is coming and it’s coming at light speed.” Education is starting to receive its first make-over since the industrial age. The Flat Classroom is taking over and I think this is going to be good.