Thursday, July 30, 2015

Where Do I Begin? Highlights of the ISTE 2015 Conference - A Four Day Cram Session!

As my colleague and fellow librarian, Paula Hansen, and I sat across the aisle from one another on the plane back to Lakeville, MN from Philadelphia, we couldn't focus on the People magazines in our laps. Our heads were leaned into the aisle as we were intent on sharing ideas, making plans, dreaming of the possibilities and solving all the world's problems...or at least the problems in our little corner of the world! We had spent four intense days at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference 2015 in Philadelphia!  Around us, there was an energy on the plane, as it was almost completely filled with ISTE 2015 attendees, a few forgotten name badges still evident, and it felt like everyone was debriefing all at once!  For Paula and I, we were planning and dreaming of the new ideas we could bring back to our students and staff! We were ready to conquer all things tech ed! Though there is almost no way to share all of the conference lessons, sessions, posters, playgrounds, and keynotes, the biggest take away for me was a renewed enthusiasm for our educational mission and a desire to share that energy with teacher friends and students back home! Even though I can't begin to summarize the entire conference, here are just a few of my highlights.

1. I received the ISTE Librarians Network Primary Award.  

I know this one shouldn't be first on my list, but it really was a thrill.  It is always nice to receive the "attaboy" that comes with winning an award, but the connections that I made as a result were the real reward! I was so excited to meet many of the innovative librarians that I follow from around the nation. It was fun putting names with faces, after months and years of communicating with librarians and educators via our ISTE Network and Twitter! Makerspace Guru, Diana Rendina, winner of the ISTE Secondary Librarians Network Award and Donna MacDonald, President of the ISTE Librarian Network were the first of many fantastic librarian-educators I had a chance to meet!


At the ISTE Librarians Network Breakfast, Shannon Miller gave an inspiring keynote about helping students find and use their own voice in the world! We were also thrilled to visit with two Minnesota library superstars, Mary Mehsikomer, last year's ITEM (Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota) president and Laurie Conzemius, the recent winner of the ISTE "Making It Happen" Award! Paula and I felt like we were with library royalty!

2. Project Based Learning and #ndlibchat friends! 

During our visits to the poster sessions, I found North Dakota librarian friends that I met virtually when I joined their Twitter chat! It was so great to finally meet Maggie Townsend and Misti Werle in person! We went to lunch and they shared the details of their experiences with project based learning. 

3. There were several great sessions on library redesign that were inspirational! 

Carolyn Foot's packed session entitled Library Design - Rethinking Spaces with Students in Mind was excellent! My favorite quote from Carolyn was when she reminded us that "pretty isn't enough! Our spaces need to fulfill a learning purpose!" 

I also had the privilege of attending a library design poster session by North Carolina librarians, Rebecca Goddard and Jennifer Robertson. Their session was filled with ideas that I am excited to try in our Oak Hills Library!


4. Learning how to host an Edcamp!?!

In the session entitled, The Edcamp Movement: Best Practices for Organizers, participants were given an opportunity to divide into groups and ask questions about how to host an Edcamp.  Paula and I were especially excited about this! There is an Edcamp starter kit that we can send for. Now we just need to be brave enough to dive in!

5.  In his session entitled, 30 Tools In 60 Minutes for Teacher-Librarians

Richard Snyder shared apps that I hadn't yet tried with students.  I was especially excited by the apps - Sway and BookTrack! I left this session with some great ideas for my students!

6. The ISTE Librarian Playground was buzzing with new ideas and new ISTE friends!

One of my favorite ideas of the whole conference came during the playground at Nan Stifel's table. Nan shared maker lessons inspired by picture books.  Below is a short video clip of her maker activity based on the book The Little Red Lighthouse and Cubelets.

Librarian Jennifer Hanson did a wonderful job sharing her knowledge on teaching with primary 

7.  MackinVia won the Tech&Learning Best of Show at ISTE 2015.

No surprise! Mackin Educational Resources has developed a innovative ebook platform, MackinVia, that delivers digital content to students with all of the bells and whistles that maximizes its educational value for students.  Paula and I were honored to be invited to a beautiful meal with Mackin owners Randall and Kitty Heise, and Mesa Heise, Brian Cretzmeyer and many of the Mackin family and friends! Thank you for your generousity Mackin and thank you for such a great tool for student reading and learning!


8. The Vendor Fair was filled with products and services that I would love for my students to try.

I was able to answer several questions that I had about 3D printers and which one would be best for our Oak Hills students. (Now for finding the funds!) I found several maker tools that would be great for engineering, coding and creative lessons with students - Sphero, LittleBits, and Cubelets, to name a few. I also got a chance to try the latest inexpensive document camera from iPevo! They have really combined high quality and low cost to make a great product for schools! Finally, Paula and I even came away with ISTE swag! Super fun!

9. Philadelphia was a great city for the ISTE conference!

Reading Terminal Market was the perfect lunch spot!

10. The opportunity to learn and share with 20,000 educators!