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I recently returned from the ISTE 2017 Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  This conference which is sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education was my first!  I love attending one of their affiliate state conferences which is in my state of North Carolina which is called NCTIES and takes place in Raleigh, NC during the first week of March.  After taking a lot of pictures, I compiled them in a highlights Animoto video and hope to share a lot of the resources and ideas that I learned in this post.

Since I had never been to a national conference with 21,000 people, I knew that I should prepare.  I studied the session descriptions in the ISTE17 app and created my schedule in a Google Calendar which I later placed into the ISTE Conference app.  There are sessions to attend, keynote speeches to hear, playgrounds to try out the latest digital devices, a classroom of the future to tour from PowerSchool, lines to wait in for Apple and Google Sessions and sore feet due to all of the walking.  I stayed two blocks from the Convention Center and took the ISTE Shuttle a couple of times, but mostly, I walked to and from the Convention Center with my heavy bookbag with iPad and Chromebook along with lots of teacher swag given to me by Exhibitors!  In the evening, I liked getting to walk along the Riverwalk which is a beautifully designed area in downtown near the Convention Center where there are restaurants and stores galore!

I enjoyed participating in The Joy of Professional Learning activities from Apple Distinguished Educators.    They want to transform professional development into “PL or professional learning”.  In my school district, “PL” is associated with “Personalized Learning”, but in the case of this session, a book series has been created by Apple Distinguished Educators which you can access for free on the iTunes store called “The Joy of Professional Learning”.  I would highly recommend checking out their amazing lessons and activities to promote professional learning with educators.

I also recommend another iBook download from another Apple Distinguished Educator,Jenny Grabiec, called “iCan with iOS”(Apps, Tools & Strategies for Students with Learning and Attention Issues) which is a great way to learn about various Apple accessibility features on iPads.

I heard a few of the presenters mention the Reggio Emilia teaching approach based in Italy.  It is not a new approach to teaching and learning, but a new interest in it is rising as it relates to developing innovation in schools.  The idea is that opportunities should be given to students by teachers to help kids construct their own understanding of the world through their environment and through communicating with others.  I really like the idea in this approach of documenting children’s ideas throughout the process of learning something.  Playing and learning are inseparable in the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching.  The ISTE17 presenters and Exhibitors delivered in sharing many different ways to learn by playing and to design lessons based on the new ISTE Student Standards.  Flocabulary has partnered with ISTE and developed this music video to illustrate the ISTE Student Standards!

The idea of having students express their thoughts and creativity in a variety of ways was alive and well in many of the sessions that I attended!  Having students research a global location then build a three dimensional model of it with 3Doodler cool glue pen was an amazing idea!  Making students’ thoughts and voices visible in various ways such as in Flipgrid by having children record their responses to a question which others in the class will watch and also respond to, is an example of this approach.  Using technology to show progressions of thinking using Bloxels video game builder is another way to provide children with iterations or multiple attempts at designing a video game using hands on blocks.  Displaying a child’s thought process in programming a Blue Bot, a cousin of the Bee Bot, can be done in Blue Bot TacTile Reader or with Blue Tooth connection from the Blue Bot to a digital device which supports their app.    Building and programming with Scratch the Itty Bitty City using a MicroDuino is another way to allow children to play and test out their coding sequences.  Another favorite of mine is the Cubetto wooden box by Primo toys which can be programmed using a series of colored blocks which is a great way to play and design a course like a computational thinker while collaborating with others.

Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo, in their joint session, referenced “The Space” by Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon, however, they discussed that you can have an innovative maker space without a space dedicated to it.  In this case, educators would have a mind shift toward making and playing in order to allow opportunities for students to discover and construct new understandings of how the world works.  They believe teachers should start the class with this question:  What do you want to learn?  When students can investigate a topic of study in an inviting space with various tools to show their thinking, then they will be excited.

My favorite keynote was Jennie Magiera on Tuesday morning.  I included a lot of her slides in my Animoto video because she inspired me so much to tell my story.  We all have stories that we want others to think about us and then, there are the real stories.  In my case, I have made ISTE sound amazing and for the most part, it was.  I posted pics on Facebook and Twitter (@edu_maples) from the conference and from our trip to see the Alamo, a special part of our American history.  Now, there were other stories that developed for me.   For one, I did not particularly like the food.  I got a migraine headache on Tuesday afternoon.  I couldn’t breathe and needed my inhaler due to smoke that poured out of a restaurant in the mall which was very close to the Convention Center.  I happened to be leaving the Convention Center for lunch right when the fire began so the streets filled with smoke.  The images in my video should help you see the scary story that unfolded.  Thankfully, although the Marriott across from the Convention Center was evacuated, the Convention Center was fine.  I had a heavy bag which made my back sore.  The good news in all of this was that my husband went with me so he began to carry my bag as he dropped me off and picked me up each day from the conference!  Our three and a half hour direct flights were a bit bumpy due to storms, but we made it.  Truly, the good far outweighed any of the bad stories.

It was an honor to attend this conference and learn from the best thought leaders!  I hope that my story will continue to develop as I implement the strategies and tools that I learned about at this conference and have a positive impact on my students.  I do not have Jennie Magiera’s title as Chief Innovation Officer in the Chicago Public Schools, but she has helped me to frame my thinking and my journey as a teacher and as an Innovator.  I was named a PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator a couple of years ago, but it is a continual journey of designing a path of experiences for my students that amplify their voice and document their thinking as they construct knowledge.  I am looking forward to processing more of the information that I have shared in this post.  I hope you enjoy it too!  Jennie shared that technology should connect us to each other in a positive way.  I really want to connect with those of you who are reading my blog by sharing what I learned!

My excitement soared as I gathered the following resources in the many sessions that I attended.  I have decided to provide links to the resources with a short description of the resource to share the love with you!

I loved Tim Fey’s Poster Session on “From Library to Learning Commons”!  Here are the resources that he shared:   https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1F01mN1B2x8bPVZXyQBy_Mjo6Y4tRvicnPFcGTdDcfcQ/mobilepresent?slide=id.g1d298f2d8c_0_0

Bloxels Video Game Design:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1vuULCF-PvYKf0qannkFhpcfWC9IIWqFDowXUc7T9yKI/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.p

Kickin It with Kinder-STEAM – http://goo.gl/MCLxN0

Mari Venturino’s blog:  http://blog.mariventurino.com/

Dr. Wes and Shelly Fryer’s STEAM Poster session:  http://seeingnewshapes.casady.org/steam

Google Drawings – https://goo.gl/hLfbJj

Digital Consumption and Creation in a Changing Literacy Landscape by Steven Anderson and Shaelynn Farnsworth’s presentation on how literacy is changing – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1rF-lzkoc1u9EcK_1eO-yAKp0TgjUzAmjPRIjvPUuG_U/mobilepresent?slide=id.g239a0cce2d_0_30

Movie Making with students – https://sites.google.com/site/moviemakingwithstudents/

Teach, Jane, Teach blog – http://janedunn25.wixsite.com/teachjaneteach/stream

Adobe Spark video/digital storytelling:  http://ipadography.weebly.com/storytelling.html

Technology Centers and many other engaging tech integration ideas! http://www.engagingeducation.net/wordpress/resources/iste-2017-resources/

Touchcast:  http://playlearnteach.blogspot.com/

Digital Storytelling Network resources:  https://docs.google.com/a/cms.k12.nc.us/document/d/1biCdyKHdSyMjE-SWj749ChC3IfLAS5KtFfDQx1FXFOw/mobilebasic

Sphero robots – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1MRTXTKb-tA4hSTjFRgiKw_YerQJGe1LI7hR0x-PYmsM/mobilepresent?slide=id.g1f7b4a1075_1_0

Universal Design for Learning Google Drive file by Gerstein and Bray – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1o1jhf91rrcyTFYgIiWUn0sZWxxBst2tSJUxoZRV5f9g/mobilepresent?slide=id.p4

Breakout EDU and Digital Breakouts –


Making Thinking Visible – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1AGLPejpuTwTVTeLsYCtRmP6K2e-5qFVobaTXE4hQpbM/mobilepresent?slide=id.g239675a555_0_0

Seedling Scavenger Bingo – a great app to use to have students work together to look for pictures of categories where they have to fill in each box on the Bingo digital board!

Great resources on Personalized learning –http://www.dsdprofessionaldevelopment.com/personalized-learning.html

Personalized Learning – https://conference.iste.org/uploads/ISTE2017/HANDOUTS/KEY_108242452/Resources.pdf

Making with Circuits:  https://sites.google.com/site/makerartstech/led-project

Be Internet Awesome!  Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Google:  https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/

Google for Littles:  http://christinepinto.com/gafe-4-littles-pln/

Google Tools:  http://www.chrislatkinson.com/

Google Add Ons:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1FoOYRcTD2i6KDYGXi9wdxX4wAjeZRPRRUHssb4GK33M/edit#slide=id.gfb2e63231_4_89

G Suite and the Writing Process:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1A1uNwrAkl7hFwho0HVx_SPTf13ijHjtcTRHbQV43ORQ/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_00

Googleopoly:  https://www.smore.com/na8sk

Digital Literacy with Google Tools:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1E4S4F8S3F0FGptCuGXiAYO9snAYkRrTDzqaGAV4fakA/edit#slide=id.g1ca4a9e9b9_1_13

iPads for Elementary:  http://www.kristenbrooks.net/

iPad as Creation Device:  https://conference.iste.org/uploads/ISTE2017/HANDOUTS/KEY_108268409/StationsDirectionsCards.pdf

Spark Creativity and Innovation:  https://sites.google.com/a/k12.somerville.ma.us/kennedy-makerspace/

Sphero robot projects and Literature:  https://padlet.com/willcottjulie/ISTE2017

Close Reading with Thinglink:  http://citizensowls.weebly.com/close-reading-using-thinglink-presentation.html

Augmented Reality in Education:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1zBXjw8JSK3LbEahpb7fWdrFbSan-U7eN2MHhbiww6xE/edit#slide=id.g173e7c2a73_0_0

Learning Spaces Images:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1pRCusVN8MXK4jieZJrNMOLgtkaV-ix6Vjo7Czx1FyBg/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_00

Stop Motion Animation:  http://www.ipadartroom.com/how-to-load-up-the-learning-in-animation/

Get Ed Funding website:  https://www.getedfunding.com/c/index.web?s@iCmSuIj2E1lbc

Digital Storytelling:  http://gmmpresentations.wikispaces.com/ISTE

Design Thinking in a Makerspace:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1vkFZk3qVFvEjqlax2LraNKTkb1UM2K_K52_6d_XQS98/edit#slide=id.g1ed03c4cd7_0_30

Do’s and Don’ts of a Maker Fair:  https://sites.google.com/richland2.org/makerfairedosanddonts/how-to-guide

Girls Building STEAM:  http://girlsbuildingsteam.weebly.com/

Makerspace in Library Programming:  https://sites.google.com/student.liberty.k12.mo.us/library

MakerSpace ideas (Great videos!):  http://www.hhh.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=975877

MakerSpace Playbook:  http://www.hhh.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=975877

Using Snapchat in the Clasroom:  http://ditchthattextbook.com/2016/04/11/15-ways-to-use-snapchat-in-classes-and-schools/

Badging Padlet:  https://padlet.com/PDLN/ISTE2017

Badging TED Talk video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxtgxXwW060



I am excited about participating in my first Slice of Life Writing Challenge. This is a writing challenge by twowritingteachers.wordpress.com in which bloggers are challenged to write about a slice of their day or a topic that inspired them each day in March. I am looking forward to getting to know other bloggers as I will also comment on at least three other bloggers’ posts to their blogs that will be linked to the daily Slice of Life page at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.

The grocery store Publix just made its debut in N.C. this week. I went to see it for myself today. I circled up and down the rows of cars in the parking lot being unsuccessful in finding a space to park for about five minutes. Finally, I noticed a customer who was getting help with her groceries by a Publix employee who was putting her groceries in her trunk. I waited for approximately three minutes to be able to turn right and pull into her spot when she left.  Anyone could see that my signal was on and I was positioned to get her spot. No sooner had she left when a car sped the wrong way down my row coming toward me and turned left into the vacant spot.  The driver’s wife or woman passenger in the passenger’s seat was mouthing “I’m so sorry” over and over through the window to me.  I don’t know what happened during the next minute because I was in a state of shock that the guy would do this.  I just sat with my right turn signal on with the clicking signal sound throbbing in my mind.  All I could think was, “How could someone barrel down the wrong way of the parking lot then suddenly turn left into the parking spot that I had waited for?”  Time stood still as I waited.  I thought, “This guy will have to walk by me to get into the store if I stay here, but I am not one who enjoys conflict.” I quickly concluded that it would not be worth it to have any contact with the driver so I was about to drive away. Unexpectedly, I saw the driver’s white back up lights go on. My mind raced with thoughts. Could it be that the driver is going to back out? But what if he doesn’t back out?  He could be mean and say hateful words.  We’ll, I almost drove away.  About that time, the car backed out and drove away.  I pulled into the spot relieved that there was no uncomfortable face to face contact.  My husband had witnessed this entire event while sitting behind me in his vehicle.  I looked in my rearview mirror as he drove past me and he grinned while holding up his thumb as a “Thumbs Up” signal.

This moment made me stop and think about why the guy chose to back out.  I have decided that he had the ability to humble himself and admit that he was wrong.  Maybe his passenger threw a fit and he didn’t want to listen to her complain so he did it for her, or maybe, just maybe, he voluntarily showed humility.

I read an article in the NY Times this past week about how companies want their workers to have soft skills such as humility, leadership and adaptability while also being willing to learn and relearn.  The article was based on an interview that had been done with a Google representative, but applies to companies who need people not just based on their grades, but also on their people skills. The article mentioned that in some cases, people who have rarely failed and gotten jobs based on their GPA’s being off the charts can have a hard time with humility.  It is important to show leadership and state your opinion in your company or school, but it is a wise person who can step back and allow other opinions to be heard.  Even if your opinion is not the prevailing one in a group discussion about a topic, you can be assured that having the ability to turn your back up lights on and gracefully submit to others will be noticed.  Having a grumpy stance or being filled with anger only pushes those with whom you work away.  People want to work with those who can rise to the occasion and suggest solutions but then also be adaptable to consider another’s point of view. Perhaps an idea that someone else has could be a better fit to solve a problem meaning that we can learn from our coworkers.

In school, I think that students need opportunities to work in small groups and navigate through the decision making process to allow them the space to be adaptable and show humility, if needed.  This might take the form of having them decide a topic to research or having them choose the type of project that they will create collaboratively.  I know that there are people who will let the leaders of the group do most of the work, but what if teachers formed groups with personalities that complimented each other?  At Google, their human resource department checks and rechecks the personality types based on how the interviewee responds to questions and scenarios.  Google forms teams of people who can work together and seems to position their workers for the best possible outcomes.

Our lessons should have an eye on the future knowing that the soft skills learned in school will allow our students to be college and career ready. Knowing how to get along with others is something we’ve all learned through experiences in life.  I just think it makes sense to promote collaboration through, for example, collaborative research done in a Shared Google Doc where group members have clearly defined roles.  After the research is done, the group could decide on a Storyboard for making an iMovie or other digital project.  As they map their documentary film out, they could rate themselves on soft skill usage such a humility, collaboration, perseverance, adaptability, etc.  Their ability to be successful will depend on how the group works together.

I know that when tensions flare, it is difficult to stay motivated to find acceptable solutions. I am so glad that the driver today made his choice in the Publix parking lot. I would have driven away if the driver had opened his door, but it just made me relieved when he made the right choice.  In our lives, we can view our ability to humble ourselves in our relationships as successful or not. I’d rather humble myself rather than being pushy and inflexible.