Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's in a Name? ICE was Right to Change Theirs. Day Two Review

After the second and final day of the ICE Conference, I've taken some time to reflect on the overall experience.  It was an outstanding event! What really struck me is that the most moving, inspiring sessions really had little to do with computers or technology.  The keynotes from Dave Burgess (AKA Talk Like a Pirate) and Kevin Honeycutt truly were more about relationships than technology. Thus, the name change from 'Indiana Computer Educators' to 'Indiana Connected Educators' seems to make a lot of sense.

Yes, there were great ideas to be gained from the speeches and sessions, but things have moved more from the "things" to the 'why'.  It's not how you get there, it's just that you get there. And, students should share in some of the decisions on the path to take... even the destination.

Danielle Darnell &Amy Schmidt from MSD Wabash County shared their successes in coding with all students. 
Here we practiced with moving cups to simulate the moves of a robot.
We heard quite a bit about coding, and the session I attended was great at giving some of the nuts and bolts, as well as resources,  In addition to their emaze presentation, and a Pinterest page, they shared specific ideas for different grade levels and answered many questions. I really liked the fact that their entire district participated in an hour of code last December. Could my district do this?  Even just the two schools in the same building? 

Any time Leslie Fisher is presenting, I have to go to at least one of her sessions.  From the clever videos she plays as you wait for a session, to her content and comments, she is always entertaining. This time I attended her gadget presentation, although I heard that the twitter session was very illuminating, too.  And then there was evernote and others.... too hard to choose!

Whenever I hear Kevin Honeycutt speak, I have to tell people about the stories he relates. Even though I had been to two sessions of his before, he had lots of new material. As I mentioned on my twitter stream, he has so much that is "quotable and tweetworthy" that it's hard to keep up. Listening to him makes you feel empowered, important, and inspired; now for the follow-through.

At a later session (wisely moved to the auditorium to accommodate a larger crowd and keep his equipment intact), he gave some rapid-fire ideas for incorporating digital literacy into research. By using us as a class, he showed how he would have students answer the question, "What was the first submarine to sink a ship?" Then he asked many, many follow-up questions, asked us what websites we were using, alerted us to false information, and told us we always had to cite sources.  Have 15 minutes left at the end of a period/day?  Divide a class in two; half the room researches to support     A: Black widow spiders are the worst  OR B. Brown recluse spiders are the worst.  Put your links and citations into a shared google doc (which can even be shared with parents)  Or choose things such as dogs/cats, standard/automatic, text/email/chat. He encouraged us to use one of his ready-made PBL lessons dealing with an asteroid hurtling toward earth. He has worked with many students to find ways to turn their talents into money, even careers.  

Our great Indiana DOE Office of eLearning has several events for October, Connected Educator Month.  One of these is the #INeLearn Challenge, designed for you to use with your staff.  You can even earn PGP's for completing it, all as you learn about different aspects of the Google Online Communities of Practice. There are communities by discipline and grade level.

Sherry Gick &Addie Matteson demonstrate their enthusiasm in the Maker Space photo booth.
And, I would be remiss without another mention of the extensive Maker Space available to us.  A lot of effort went into affording us the opportunity to experience several possibilities. All in all, the conference was an ideal experience, and will definitely go on my calendar for next year!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pirates, Vacation, and Makey Makey

The first day of the Indiana Connected Educators (ICE) conference was a fabulous experience! Several districts and the Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearning have combined to make our state a leader in education technology, with many inexpensive opportunities for teachers and other educators to learn from nationally-renowned tech stars.

Consider the line up for this year's conference:
-Sylvia Martinez
-Leslie Fisher
-Dave Burgess, AKA Talk Like a Pirate
-Kevin Honeycutt

Throw in two breakfasts, two lunches, free wireless and parking--- all for $100? (and presenters attend for free)  No wonder more than 400 people registered. My primary reasons to attend: ICE helps you experience the same joy of learning that you hope students will, and I get to see lots of friends!

Some of my media specialist friends at ICE. AISLE had great representation 
Photo courtesy of Michelle Green
Although I participated in the eLearning book club with Sylvia Martinez's Invent to Learn and have been in webinars where she presented, seeing her in person really helped me realize more of the impetus and reach of the "Maker Movement".

Buzz saw?  Whirlwind?  Psycho?  No-- it's Dave Burgess!
I've read the book, been in multiple chats... but nothing can compare to seeing Dave Burgess in person. My main take away when I read his book was that teachers should not be afraid to be different, to "go out on a limb" to be memorable, and entertaining to students.  The level of engagement in his presentations was phenomenal, and you could sense teachers thinking of ways they could adapt lessons.  I was so excited to see Dr. Nancy Steffel of the University of Indianapolis, who brought all of her junior and senior preservice teachers to this conference, and had them sitting in the front row for Burgess's keynote.  What better way for future teachers to prepare!

One of the best things about attending: the learning and connections continue. There are so many opportunities through ICE and the IDOE Office of eLearning. Whether it's the Thursday night twitter chats or other programs, it is easy to find encouragement and support.  ICE has been during my fall break the past few years, and fits nicely with what I want to experience on a vacation: enjoyment, time with friends, learning new things.  I rarely go anywhere over break, but if I do, I plan around being able to attend ICE.  It's disappointing to me that some educators think of it as "giving up" their vacation.  There's no hassle of lesson plans, having a sub, and I think districts might more easily be able to come up with a mere $100 for this wonderful experience. It could also be that many classroom teachers don't realize this exists, as they are rarely sent outside their districts for PD anymore.

And best yet-- I get to come back today!

This year's ICE includes an extensive Maker Space.
As with students, it seemed like the 3D printers drew the largest crowds.