The ISTE 2012 conference was a varied ecosystem, it felt like a hierarchical free zone in which both the intellectual highs of research based learning and teaching pedagogy are presented and fervently discussed alongside the appropriation of hipster bravado and merriment. They coexist because learning was still extent for either approach to presenting. Just as our students need variety and a shifting of traditional learning with more accessible and motivating playfulness. It reminds me that in our classrooms we have the traditional text, a container of meaning which both students and teachers can feel is safe side by side with having our students use the Internet for finding information in which another layer of sophistication or lens needs to be applied. We have teachers wearing ties and following traditional methods but also incorporating gaming, media, remixing all happening at the same time.
In one day I went from seeing Gary Stager adamantly pushing for the classrooms many of us desire in which invention and creativity solve all the learning goals that my students must achieve during the course of the year with authentic problem solving. In particular the robot ballerina stands out as Stager pointed out the mirroring of robot by the little girl's body movement as an important developmental cue. Afterwards I went to the Hollywood Squares session in which educators dressed as stars and the questions asked had to do with recalling or figuring out key statements made from various Youtube or TED presentations.
One of my favorite sessions because it seemed so relevant to the needs of my own district and its inability to push for innovation outside individual classrooms was Suzie Boss's session. I loved the session because it focussed on a district's model for bringing innovation and a creative focus for the students even with a varied demographic environment. There were principals present and she Skyped in Pam Moran the superintendent. I created a Storify session to save some of the discussion. Hopefully this sort of presentation is a harbinger of positive change for larger systems such as districts that all together embrace a different way of thinking.
My perspective overall was fairly restricted as I had family that would wait until I could get away and take them to one of the many fun family activities in the San Diego area. I would usually leave in the late morning or early afternoon so there is much I missed, but still I then would periodically check in on Twitter following the #iste12 hashtag.
The nexus for me as usual was the Blogger's Cafe, where those who are there are accessible and amenable to interaction, but the whole sails pavilion seemed to promote the informal and social type of interactions with people that the Blogger's cafe is there for.
I had volunteered to help at the Newbie Lounge which Beth Still had organized as well as donated to her "Send a Newbie to ISTE" project. and as a result ended up talking to various people. I spoke with an educator from South America, also spoke briefly with the founder of Edshelf, Mike Lee, and finally was able to meet @cybraryman/Jerry Blemengarten
The flipped classroom label was so prevalent that I couldn't get a sense of who was really up and modeling the best or most innovative methods, but I did meet Ramsey Musallam who has the website Flipteaching and
who has done his graduate work on the subject and has a large set of research information accessible and linked off his website.
Along with the rockstar sessions and the discussion about who are the rockstars I had a sense that people are experimenting with the image of who a teacher is and how we represent our selves. It was interesting to see the #edubros inviting Ken Robinson to join them and their was the group ESSDACK out of Kansas with Kevin Honeycutt and Ginger Lewman and their techtoos and lanyard/badge bling that teachers need never fear about being relevant, dynamic, and fresh to our students.
I was glad that companies (such as Classdojo, Classconnect, Educreations) who progressed under the Silicon Valley education start-up support/funding group Imagine K12 were well represented. I spoke to someone from Class dojo and saw that Classroom Connect was dispensing hugs and love to anyone who wanted it by the trolley station outside the conference. Hopefully more young startups which foster those types of direct relationships and interactions will continue to foster more innovative software or apps that we can use in our classrooms. I didn't see Voicethread on the vendor floor which is too bad.
There were a lot of people I missed either because they weren't there or because I just never crossed paths with them. These people made the conference feel like a somewhat incomplete experience by my not getting to interact face to face with them.
There have been several good blog posts that have popped up in my RSS reader or were shared. Of the posts I read so far I think John Spencer gives voice to two critical areas of need to moving more schools forward which is professional development and giving teachers the opportunity to fail. With all the cut backs and hight stakes testing we must invest time and effort in both these areas. Also Jeff Uttecht posted about the need to realistically help the systems around us evolve after listening at a conference such as ISTE to more radical proposals for change that involve revolution. I wish his ideas didn't resonate with me and that we could just dump all the useless obstructions to where we want to take our classroom, but he is right. Both these posts remind me of the importance of going back and working with the teachers around me for whom small incremental steps either with technology or student centered learning are what they need to see. We are in a system which values consistency and staying the course. Once something works there is hesitancy to change.
Responding to Vicki Davis and her #istebig3 tag requests and my top three takeaways or things I want to continue to learn and pursue
1. I love common core
At a national conference I was able to begin discussing standards that are going to be affecting almost all teachers in the U.S. Who's to say that as new ideas are created at a national level that foundations and organizations which promote authentic project based learning, that teachers cannot join together with them to create a more powerful and influential voice towards moving our classrooms in new directions.
2. I want a classroom of inventors, creators, engineers
I want to continue to work towards making authentic learning experiences in which my students are directing their learning in meaningful ways. I hope I'm able to glean more ideas from sources that promote problem solvers, makers, and doers.
3. I am a curator.
As I was thinking and documenting what was happening around me trying to collect it and keep from being overwhelmed, Miguel Guhlin posted a couple of posts about content curation tools and I realized during the school year that my use of paper.li, scoop it, pinterest, tweeted times, Zite, related to the curation and sharing of content. My sense of accomplishment and purposefulness was just as great as if I was creating new content or generating new ideas. At the conference I'm always trying to give voice on twitter to concepts that I want to remember.
I was saddened to read that all of Richard Byrnes sessions were rejected for ISTE which I'm guessing was the primary reason he was not attending this year.
Finally I saw that Chris Lehman did a short post on why ISTE still matters to him. He mentions (and I would include him in) the group of educators that have given so much to where we are and they will continue to be important leaders in where we are going. I didn't have a chance to really see many of the new voices that have emerged in my PLN this past year, but it was another ISTE conference which I can carry with me through the next school year for inspiration and to keep my passion renewed.