Monday, July 7, 2014

An Inspirational Student!

I have been to 11 graduation ceremonies at Hopewell Valley Central High School since 2003. It took 7 years before I started to see students walk across the stage who were my students at Bear Tavern Elementary School. It took until this year for me to tear up at a graduation ceremony. Please take a moment to see why and watch the video below of former BT student and CHS graduating senior, Andrew Niederer. It will touch and inspire you.

video
Video courtesy of HV-TV

If you ever need a reminder of why we do what we do, this is it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#ISTE2014 Newbie: With A Little Help From My Friends

image from https://www.isteconference.org/2014/
I just attended my first ISTE Conference & Expo!  Did you hear me? I just attended my first ISTE Conference & Expo! Sorry, I'm just very excited and energized after my time in Atlanta. So much so that I wrote this post in the airport as I waited for my flight home and on the plane. If it rambles a little, bear with me.

Over the past few years, since I started building a PLN via Twitter, I have been watching the stream of tweets with the #ISTE conference hashtag as my school year would come to an end.  As I read all of the tweets going by with links to amazing resources and nuggets from thoughtful sessions, I knew that eventually I would have to go myself. This year, I was able to attend in Atlanta and it was an exhausting, rewarding, learning, connecting, type of experience.

image courtesy of clker.com
Fortunately, I got by with a little help from my friends. I was able to hook up with members of my PLN from the moment I got there and they helped show me the ropes. A big thanks to Billy Krakower (@wkrakower), Kyle Calderwood (@kcalderw), Liz Calderwood (@liz1544), Kate Baker (@KtBkr4), and, of course, Jerry Blumengarten(@cybraryman1).  There were many people that I met and had the opportunity to talk with because the folks above took me under their wing and mentored me during my time at #ISTE2014.

Everyone told me that the informal conversations are as valuable as the sessions themselves and I truly understand what they meant now. The learning and connecting can take many forms; a brief chat with Nathan Stevens (@nathan_stevens) and Jenny Grabiac (@techgirljenny) at a social event, a conversation with Jessica Allen (@jessievaz12) over dinner, a dialogue about a project from one of the poster session presenters (they are GREAT) in the Galleria, a warm, wonderful hug and words of encouragement in the Blogger's Cafe from Paula Naugle (@plnaugle), a
me and Paula Naugle
great opportunity to go to lunch with Jerry, Billy, and Kathy Bloomfield from Readworks, or a quick conversation in the conference hallway with Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) to remind that "You Matter!"  These real life connections are part of what make the virtual connections via social media so valuable. 

#ISTE2014 was also filled with fantastic sessions. The biggest problem was deciding which ones to choose because there were often several sessions of interest to me at the same time. I came away with some great ideas from Kyle Pace (@kylepace) and Michelle Baldwin's (@michellek107) session "Full STEAM ahead: Cultivating connections with the arts." I learned that I can start a maker space in my school and classrooms and I don't have to break the bank from the folks at Digital Harbor Foundation's (@DHFBaltimore) session: "Classroom Makerspace: Your Guidebook to Inexpensive Making in the Classroom". I was inspired by the session
Levar Burton speaking to a packed room.
with Levar Burton (@levarburton) whose Reading Rainbow has helped so many children over the past decades. That barely scratches the surface of what I have learned (fodder for more posts).

You never know what opportunities will present themselves at #ISTE2014. I arrived on Saturday and that evening received a message asking if I would help out in a session as a Twitter Mentor. So my first professional development opportunity at the convention was actually working with Elana Leoni (@elanaleoni) from Edutopia and Kyle Calderwood in their session "Saved by Twitter: 10 ways to use Twitter to Connect" (#savedbytwitter) as they worked with a room of 150 new Twitter users to show the power of the social media platform for connecting and professional development. Awesome! The next night I went in to support Jerry Blumengarten and Susan Bearden (@s_bearden) in their session "Twitter 101: Build Your Personal Learning Network" and was asked to do something similar. 

I'm going to stop now because now that I have my initial thoughts down I need to process them a bit more. I am sure there are more posts coming when I collect my thoughts.  Stay tuned...

So, a few takeaways from this post....

1. Go to #ISTE2015 in Philadelphia if you can

While there:
2. Talk to people, they will talk back
3. Take a risk and leave your comfort zone
4. Take the time to explore the Expo floor. There are some wonderful things there and a great deal to learn (I didn't even mention that above!)

But, Right now:
4. Get on Twitter and start to connect with the amazing folks out in our education community.
5. Follow all of the people I mention in this post, you won't regret it!
6. Leave a comment and let's start a conversation here or on Twitter


P.S. Thanks to all of the educators with whom I've interacted during the last several days. It has been wonderful.
Me, Nathan, Kate, Aaron, Liz, & Kyle