Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sympton: ISTE 2014 Fever

This is my first time attending an ISTE conference and I've spent the past few days doing final preparations - making sure the app is updated on my phone and iPad and reading all the "newbie" articles I could find. And it helped - I thought - until I walked into the Opening Keynote auditorium. It was HUGE!!! 

Prior to the Keynote, I was able to attend The Arcade Experience  hosted by BrainPop. It was very interesting and informative. They've developed Game Up - a collection of games that are accessible with or without a subscription. Yes, you read that correctly, even without a subscription!  Of course, there are plenty of reasons to purchase BrainPop if your school doesn't have it already. Within the Game Up collection there are many games that have multiple levels, levels that realistically cannot be played through by a student in one sitting. If you have the 24/7 subscription, students can easily login and save their progress. But the really cool part about this is the "snapshot" where students can take a screenshot and add lines of text to it. The rep shared with us that she's used this in a school setting to have students take a snapshot right at the beginning of the game and add their prediction. She's also used it to have students write something that they are having difficulties with during the game or even highlight their successes. If the teacher has her own account setup, then she/he can easily login and access the student comments. The applications of this are awesome! This is a simple way to have students so self-assessments and to have quick teacher assessments (have the student take an end of the game result snapshot). 

After the Opening Keynote with Ashley Judd, I headed toward the poster sessions. Thank goodness for QR codes! The tables were swamped and only once did I have an opportunity to actually speak with the presenters. And a side note for QR codes - if you're not using i-nigma get it now! It's available for Android and Apple products - all for free. A shout-out to Tony Vincent for sharing this with attendees at the GAETC conference last March. 

I stopped by almost every table, but these are my top three that I'm interested in using with my students: 

Student Blogging Challenge 
This is the one time I spoke to the presenter - My main question was, "Can I realistically do this with elementary students?" As the media specialist for K-5 students at a school where writing is a major focus, I want to create meaningful lessons for students that incorporates writing, global learning and digital citizenship. This project does all three! And, drum's FREE!  It's a 10 week program that begins each September and March. More details: I can create one account for the school and run this as a media program. I do not have to recruit one teacher per grade to create accounts. Since the grade levels of K-5 are so diverse in their abilities, I would share their challenge questions on my media center blog and give suggestions for each grade as to how much/how little they participate. This is something I am definitely going to use during the upcoming school year!

Getting Social: A Classroom Without Borders  
Alice Chen has a program "One World. One Classroom." that I've just signed up to be a part of. Basically, it's a simple way to connect your students with students around the world. She also has a Google+ community that is open to everyone - "Classrooms Without Borders." Another easy way to find ways to connect students with other students around the world. 

Heralding Heroes: The Impact and Implications of Inspirational Media 
According to their website, "The mission of MY HERO is to use media and technology to celebrate the best of humanity and to empower people of all ages to realize their own potential to effect positive change in the world." Wow - isn't that a great idea for your students? So much technology is thrown at students and some of it isn't that great or inspiring. But what if your students could be part of the change? To create art or technology projects that inspire others to do more, to be more? A worthwhile task indeed - one that I'll be investigating further for my K-5 students. 

Tomorrow I'm heading to the Digital Age Library Playground and several sessions on the Maker Movement.

UPDATE! I met Library Girl at ISTE! On the left - Jennifer LaGarde aka Library Girl and me on the right. Very cool meeting a library celebrity! :)

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