Processing ISTE 2010

It’s been a few days since ISTE 2010 and I’ve had time to step back and reflect on my experiences there.

I was inspired by the educational philosophies and successes of Chris Lehman, Gary Stager, and Jeff Piontek. Harry Rheingold reminded me of the importance of critical thinking, I thought about issues of equity and student achievement during edchat (live), saw some of the successes and challenges experienced by other schools and districts, met some people that I’d only previously interacted with online and shared the world of educational tech integration with a former colleague and fellow educator. But by day 3 (including Saturday and Sunday at the leadership bootcamp and constructing modern knowledge), I’d had enough. I was tired of waiting in line hoping for free seats at the most popular sessions, going to sessions where few new (to me) perspectives were presented, and of listening lots and doing little.

This was my second time at the ISTE summer conference. I participated when it was in Atlanta a few years ago. I found it overwhelming then, and my reaction was similar this time. Sure, it was nice meeting some of the people that I’ve only interacted with on Twitter but professional development in such a setting doesn’t really work for me. I’ve (re)discovered that I hate large crowds, and long lines. (I’m a country island girl at heart.) There were a lot of both at ISTE 2010. Being immersed as I am in twitter, blogs and the world of technology education, I saw or heard little at ISTE that I hadn’t been exposed to before. Sure, there were some new links, some unique wordings, inspiring classroom examples, and some opportunities to see new and/or changed technology, but there was nothing earth shattering. I was reminded of some best practices and of how much more I could be doing, but as “the” instructional tech person at my (K-12) school, I’m already putting enough time and energy into work and am intent on maintaning some balance in my life. So where do I go from here?

I know what my weaknesses are and I should focus on overcoming them. I have many philosophical and pedagogical discussions. There are lots of avenues to engage in discussions virtually. It’s more difficult (though not necessarily impossible) to construct something with someone in the virtual world, especially since I have limited spatial awareness, and little experience with or knowledge of artistic forms. I’d like to take a filming class and refresh my programming skills but I’d prefer to work with a group face to face than virtually. I like intimate gatherings of good friends over parties with lots of casual acquaintances. I’m not the kind who jumps into new things; I first quietly watch from the sidelines and then decide how I’d like to participate. I interact with my PLN, help when I can and ask for help when I need it but I feel a certain distance. The ISTE conference is huge but it doesn’t work for me.

I need to come up with some processes for implementing my beliefs about technology education into my classes and my school. At the core of my beliefs is that there is more than one right way and that the right way depends on our characters and that of the students that we teach. For me to continue to grow as a teacher, I need both self development and curricular/school development. I’ve started this process but there is much to do and I need to be systematic about it. I’m supposed to be vacationing with family in Ottawa over the next few weeks but I’m going to have to carve out some time for work. August, and the new school year, are not that far away.

Final Thoughts

I do not mean to discredit the value of face-to-face conversations. They may lead to deeper engagement and understanding. I just feel that the ISTE conference provides few formal opportunities for discourse, and little time (in free sessions) to engage in hands-on. For this reason, I will remain an irregular participant, but I am sorry to have missed EdubloggerCon from all the twitter updates. I missed it last time too and forgot about it when I signed up for the leadership bootcamp this year. I will definitely keep my eyes on the ISTE conference and won’t rule out attending again but I’m not planning on attending next year. I’m going to explore other conferences that may better meet my needs. I may have gotten more out of ISTE if I’d paid for half day or full day sessions and had more time focused on using a tool. Something to consider for next time. I did bring a friend to ISTE 2010 this year and she got lots of great ideas for use in her (elementary) classroom so ISTE 2011 might be a good choice for you, depending on your goals. For more information on ISTE 2010 and future conferences, see

Critical Thinking

Presenter: Betsy Aoki, David McGavock, Howard Reingold

  • Bing background is an image map with links to a variety of links (default focus is water)
  • instant answers from Bing share the source on the bottom
  • Bing results let you preview items before clicking on the link for further exploration
  • allows you to get results from the social web
  • has a variety of apps such as hotel finder, photosynth and today’s front page news
  • students must figure out the source of the material that they are reading to determine authority etc.
  • wikipedia is the best place to start but worst place to stop when doing research
  • wikipedia reveals the process used for creating the page
  • have students justify reason for using a source so that they explicitly practice critical thinking in selecting sources

Continue the discussion


Gaming Across the Curriculum

Gaming Across the Curriculum BYOL session – Finding and Evaluating Educational Games

Marjee Chmiel, National Geographic Society, @mchmiel,

Trevor Owens, Center for History and New Media @tjowens,

Game directories (modified September 15, 2011)

Game recommendations

Coaster Creator –

Gravitee 2 –

Do I Have a Right –

The Jamestown Online Adventure Game –

How to use games

  • share them in a diigo group, on a website or newsletter
  • “free time” activities
  • classroom activity
  • “homework”
  • your ideas (from comments)

Physics games from my diigo

21 Things about 21 Things


Have teachers to:

  • Experiment and learn about web2.0 tech with online activities of a manageable size
  • build a PLN
  • use the tools in the classroom
  • reflect on use


  • meet needs of variety of users
  • high quality and cost effective
  • self-paced and flexible
  • backwards planning
  • modules/chunks
  • include free tools and subscription tools
  • track progress
  • get support from all segments esp. administrator
  • generate interest
  • provide tiered support
  • provide classroom support
  • give time
  • consider timeline for rollout to be most effective


I missed the rest of the presentation because I started exploring some tools. The list seems like mostly common sense items but as we all know, common sense isn’t always commons so the presentation is a useful reminder of considerations when planning and implementing professional development.

ISTE 2010 Keynote

Opening keynote by Jean-Francois Rischard

Sylvia Martinez’s post about the keynote –
I was volunteering behind the blogger’s cafe during the keynote and saw that the message was being lost in powerpoint translation with that particular crowd. I couldn’t hear the message over the powerpoint slide outrage but was intensely curious about the message, especially after reading some tweets that said how interesting Rischard’s book is.  I spoke with a SMART engineer during lunch on Monday and asked him about they keynote. It was interesting to note that he did not mention the powerpoint slides, but rather mentioned the urgency that he felt from the message that children of all ages need to be involved solving global issues, environmental issues being the biggest one mentioned. I got similar responses from some educators that I spoke with.
In Sylvia Martinez’s post, she mentions “I think Mr. Rischard missed the point by saying that we should develop curriculum for K-12 that does this…” I didn’t hear the keynote so I’m not sure what Rischard said but I don’t see any reason why curriculum developed couldn’t be hands-on. I agree that we must have students directly involved in doing the problem solving and related work. I’d go so far as to say that we need students being and doing. A few summers ago, I went to visit family in Canada. My little (half) sister who was 5 at the time was throwing a can into the garbage bin. I told her that she needs to recycle it. Her response was that she learned about recycling at school but that was just  a school thing. Somehow the action at school did not get translated to her activities at home. She was “doing” by recycling at school but she wasn’t “being” the message because she hadn’t internalized the message to apply it all the time and to share it with others. Our curriculum definitely needs to get students being responsible citizens by acting and thinking as a global citizen.