Saturday, June 28, 2014

ISTE2014... so it begins

What begins? #ISTE2014 began for me last night. It was our last day of school for this year. It should be time to put our feet up and relax. Nope... As a connected educator and a perpetual learner it was time to head off for the wonderful ISTE conference. After the close of school, I ran home. Rechecked to make sure I packed everything I might need. Headed to the airport. Met up with colleagues I am lucky enough to call friends. And away to ISTE we go...

I admit this educator who normally runs on just a few hours sleep, slept quite well for the night. Woke up and headed to the conference center to check in. 

What a great feeling to connect with friends I haven't seen in what feels like forever (even if maybe it was just since July).  We scoped out the lay of the land. Participated in some interesting discussions. Networked with friends. Twitter, Facebook, The ISTE Networking Game... I'm glad the servers could handle us all (for the most part). I had the pleasure of running into so many of my beloved Discovery Education friends. I lost count! What an amazing feeling.

Next it was on to a party hosted by Class Dojo. How nice to make new friends! 

Then we returned to put our feet up on the balcony. Watch a beautiful sunset. And relax for a little bit.

Of course I had to round out the night on social media and blogging. But it was nice to spend some time today connecting in the real world. I think perhaps we all need to remember to put down our devices for a moment and enjoy life as it happens. 
Otherwise, you might miss the view like this...
Savor the moments when we take time to reflect and review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

T-minus... (cross post)

Forgive me - I felt this should appear on my personal education blog as well as my Discovery Education Blog,
The ISTE 2014 conference is about to be underway. The Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute (DENSI) is nearly underway. What a busy exhilarating time for teachers. In younger years I use to so look forward to Summer Vacation. The last day of school for a year meant freedom. It meant relaxation. It meant beach time. It meant reading time. Now, in my recent years, I look upon the last days of school differently. They are now a blur of preparation to go begin MY learning processing. For the last 9 months I have focused on the learning of our students and my fellow teachers and staff. Of course I kept learning in small bits during this time. For example, I “attend” #DENchat, Thursday night Twitter Chats to continue learning from my PLN. But the summer is time to focus on what I am interested in learning. Our school wraps things up for students on Friday. Yes, Friday… please give me patience to wait that long. But then I board the plane and I head off for adventures. Not rest and relaxation at the beach. Oh, no, not me. I head off for more hustle and bustle and chaos and overwhelming technology learning options. Yes I attend ISTE2014. I would not have it any other way. There is so much available: informal moments in between sessions, formal sessions, poster sessions, live face-to-face events, workshops, blogging areas, playgrounds, vendor booths, spotlight showcases and more.
If you are attending also, here are a few tips I have learned after attending a few ISTE conferences:
  • *Bring business cards – You will meet many many folks that you may want to followup with. (Consider creating a QR Code – the digital version of a business card)

  • *Create personal labels – There will be many many vendors requesting your information. How many times can you write your name, address, and email address over and over again. Quite a few will let you afix your preprinted label to their lists and/or cards.

  • *Wear appropriate shoes – I love heels. They look amazing. But for long days at the ISTE conference center – opt for comfort. You will be glad you did.

  • *Water bottles can be a fashion statement. Does yours have bling? Pretty colors? Your school logo? Your favorite vendor’s logo? Does yours clip onto your bag? And the best part they serve a purpose. It is important to stay hydrated. Remember this year is being hosted by lovely Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not called “Hot-lanta” for nothing.

  • *Google Calendar – Please do not over book yourself. Leave yourself some time to digest and absorb what you have been exposed to during the conference. You can plan out your events to make sure the items you truly want to attend do not overlap. Also save (and saver) some time for blogging, twitter chatting, sharing, and reflecting.
Speaking of taking a breather – I saved myself a few days and then after #ISTE2014 wraps, I head to Tennessee for DENSI2014. As if ISTE wasn’t a fabulous few days of high-impact learning – bring on #DENSI2014! A week long of the best, most indepth learning I experience as a teacher all year. I look forward to this even with such glee. The conversations leading up to this event are so much fun. They help long time DEN leadership council members to reconnect. And I think it helps those that have never attended a DENSI to pick up some of our enthusiasm. New members are welcomed with open arms. The world of DENSI is a world of acceptance and love. It’s like an automatic golden ticket to the greatest family of educators around. I can’t wait to meet all our new friends and reconnect with longtime DEN friends. Would time just get here already?!!
This year I will be assisting with leading one of the DENSI2014 teams. I look forward to us all getting to know each other better. I feel like I’ll be a Teacher Summer Camp counselor this year. I hope my team will have an amazing time together.
The  ISTE and DENSI count down is on. The count down is nearing it’s final stages. Synchronize watches, and twitter feeds, and edmodo groups, and all that other great technology stuff. So excited to see what we will learn this year…