Category Archives: ISTE

Why I blog… and why you should, too.

In February of 2014, I made a decision.

I started a blog.

This one.

A little over three years later, I have to admit that part of the reason I did it was because it seemed like all the cool kids were doing it.  I didn’t really think I had enough to say to make a blog worthwhile.  Anything I could say was already being said by other people who already have established blogs with large numbers of followers.  I had lots of reasons why starting a blog wasn’t a practical thing to do.

But, I did have some good reasons to try it.  I told myself it wasn’t a lifetime choice, I could easily stop doing it at any time (but isn’t that what smokers say?).  I knew I wanted to become a better writer, and one of the best things a person can do to become a better writer is to, well, actually start writing.

There have been some additional benefits that I was not expecting.  First, I found that my own blog was a great place to organize and archive things that I wanted to go back and access later.  Resources such as links to my previous presentations and snippets about news stories or other online materials go in posts or pages that get categories and tags.  Spending a few extra seconds setting categories and tags for my posts makes it much easier for me to go back and find things later when something reminds me of a useful resource.  And, I don’t have to try to remember if I saw that resource on Twitter, or Facebook, or in an e-mail, or….

Second, I have been able to incorporate the practice of reflective writing via blogs with my college students.  Reflective writing assignments in the form of neatly typed paragraphs or pages are a staple of many education courses, but I wanted to take it a step further with my students.  My class (Communication Tools and Strategies for Students with Moderate to Intensive Special Needs) was reading Ellen Notbohm’s excellent book “Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew”.  Rather than having the students write reflections on the chapters that would only be seen be me, I asked them to publish their reflections on a publicly available class blog.  Years ago, I heard Rushton Hurley tell a room of educators, “If students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good.  If they are sharing it with the teacher, they want it to be good enough.”  There is a big difference between good and good enough.  An authentic, global audience can be the key to making that leap.

Third, when I go back and read some of my old posts, I am noticing changes to my writing style and the language that I use.  I hope I am also becoming better at getting my ideas across.

Enter “Blogging Buddies!”

ISTE’s Ed Tech Coaches’ Network is starting a new program called “Blogging Buddies”.  The idea is based on Jennifer Hogan’s “Compelled Blogger Tribe” idea from her blog.  I am committing to producing at least one new blog post each month.  I am also committing to visit the blogs of four specific individuals and leave comments on their posts once a month as well.  The second part is the “new adventure” for me.  There are a couple of blogs I peruse regularly, but most of my blog-watching comes from links I happen across via Twitter.

I look forward to getting familiar with not just the ideas that my “randomly selected” blogging buddies will produce, but getting to know something about them as people as well.  I don’t just want to know what they know about what works in educational technology, I want to know why they do what they do.

More to come….

 

 

ISTE 2016

ISTE 2016 Logo_Full Logo_Full Color

When I accepted a position as a Technology Integration Specialist with Forward Edge, one thing I found out was that I would be attending my first ever ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference.  This year’s conference was held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.  I know a lot of my EdTech friends didn’t have the opportunity to go, so I thought I would pass along some of my biggest takeaways.

  • We have to start with a focus on our instructional strategies and expectations.  If you start your decision-making process with “what the tech can do” and then try to cram it into your existing instructional system, you’ll be frustrated.  If you start with what you want instruction to do for all students, and then find the tech that supports and amplifies that, you’ll be transformed. [ Transforming Teaching and Learning with an Authentic Audience (YouTube: 15:56) ]
  • Programming is big.  Kids should learn about coding, and learn to code.  Coding involves math, science, literacy and pre-literacy skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving.  These are skills that we want every one of our students to develop and learn to use in real-world circumstances.  This is really scary for teachers who don’t know how to code, but there are some resources out there that make it a lot easier.  [ Free resources: Code.org | Scratch ] [ Hardware Kits: Makey Makey | Raspberry Pi |  Project Bloks by Google and Wired.com article on Project Bloks | littlebits | Ozobot ]
  • It is worth the time spent getting a vision for what sort of world our students are heading into.  What will the world be like in five years, or ten, or twenty, or fifty?  Are we preparing kids for that world, or the world fifty years passed?  And what sort of a societal change do we want these students prepared to make? [ Wrap-up of Dr. Michio Kaku’s keynote | Wrap-up of Dr. Ruha Benjamin’s keynote ]

 

ISTE Ignite PhotoI was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate with two brief presentations.  Some friends of mine made “home video” recordings of my presentations, via Periscope, now on YouTube:

I’m already looking forward to ISTE 2017 in San Antonio, TX, June 25-28, 2017!  If you have the opportunity to go, I would love to see you there!

Two Presentations – Ten Minutes

This year, I have the pleasure of attending my first-ever ISTE conference, thanks to the good folks at my new workplace, Forward Edge.

I also have the added privilege of giving two presentations!

My “Five Rules of Design Thinking to Reach All Students” presentation was accepted as part of “ISTE Ignite Sessions – Round 1” on Sunday, June 26 at 1:30 PM (MDT, 3:30 PM EDT).  The Ignite format means I have prepared 20 slides, and they will auto-advance every 15 seconds, giving me a grand total of five minutes for my presentation.  I’ve done versions of my “Five Rules” work in lots of different time blocks (fifteen minute TEDx, one hour, two hour, all-day ), but this will be my first time doing it in the five-minute Ignite format.  As difficult as that sounds, it’s all about the preparation, and being settled on just exactly what I want to say for each of my slides, and “sticking to the script”.

Then, I will team up with my friend Stacy Hawthorne to be part of a forum session titled “Making Ed Tech Stick!”  Multiple presenters will again have five minutes each to talk about proven strategies that have helped schools use educational technology to truly transform the way we teach.  My presentation there will be titled “Three Big Fat Lies Tech Coordinators Tell”.  Two presentations.  Ten minutes.  And lots of opportunity to enjoy and learn from others’ presentations along with mine!

Will you be at ISTE?  Or perhaps you will be part of the #NotAtISTE16 crowd?  Either way, I look forward to learning from the overwhelming amount of interaction that comes out of this conference every year!

Learn more about the Ignite format, and see some great Ignite talks at their website, IgniteTalks.io.