It’s finally here – ISTE2014! I am so excited to finally be able to attend this conference. It’s been on my wish list for a long time. Today was ISTE Unplugged known this year as Hack Education 2014. This was a true unconference. Participants did not need to be registered for ISTE to attend.
Since ISTE registration was already open, I decided to check in first and pick up my badge. This was handy to have throughout the day because it made sharing info easier. The check-in info included coupons and raffle tickets. I highly recommend the coupon for the welcome treat from King of Pops – a peach pop. I’ve had King of Pops before, and they are amazing!
We began the morning with putting ideas for conversations on large pieces of paper and getting to know each other. Then, we voted on the sessions we were most interested in using dot stickers. The next step was to compile the votes and post the schedule on the wiki. Our first “session” started at 10 am, and we walked to the appointed areas and started forming groups. The idea was not to have more than 20 people in a group so that conversations were easily fostered.
For my first session, I chose to go to the Maker Spaces/Girls in STEM conversation. We had a very large group, so we broke out into a smaller group and had a fabulous conversation about girls in STEM and how to engage girls through making. One of the coolest things that was shared in our conversation was a blog called KikiMaker, the making journey of a 10-year-old girl who started making when she was seven.
The second session I joined in a conversation about project based learning. Since I’ve been on the PBL journey for over a year now, I really wanted to hear what other people are doing. Again, we started as a very large group and then broke off into smaller groups to have conversations. We all shared what are experiences have been including ideas for overcoming struggles. A few more participants joined us, and Ginger Lewman also chimed in with her expertise. It was awesome to have her join and share with us.
We then had our group photo. Ironically, Steve Hargadon, our organizer had shared with us earlier in the day that we would not retake the photo if anyone was late or missed it, and he was late to the photo. It was still fun having our group photographed together.
Lunch was followed by the smack down session. I was very glad to find out that all of the great apps were compiled for later reference. I’ll admit, the smack down was very fast moving, so it was hard to keep up.
The last session I attended was about setting up maker spaces in schools. It was awesome to hear first hand from other educators who have already implemented making into their classrooms and clubs. Hearing stories of students making to help them learn were inspiring. I am going to have some pretty cool tools to play with this fall, and I look forward to setting up our own maker space.
The final round of sessions I didn’t see anything I wanted to attend, so my colleague and I decided to go explore ISTE Central. We hadn’t really stopped in at the welcome center, and we saw many people wearing multiple ribbons on their badges. Being nerdy, we wanted lots of ribbons as well. We came away from there with several ribbons, so if you’re looking to ribbon up, be sure to stop by. There are other places as well to find ribbons over the next few days. We also checked out the ISTE bookstore and stopped to make new friends.
The last stop of the day was for a maker event hosted by Bird Brain Technologies. They make the Hummingbird Robotics Kit, and we had a chance to build our own robot, program it, and watch it work. It was a lot of fun, and I made “new” friends while we built our robot together: @slmteched, @SuzanBrandt, and @ezigbo_. It’s funny when you meet someone, exchange Twitter handles and realize you already follow each other.
It’s hard to believe the official activities haven’t even started yet! I can only imagine what amazing experiences the next few days will bring. I am so excited to be a part of ISTE 2014!