Saturday, December 27, 2014

So What Exactly is ISTE?

Over the next few months you are going to hear a lot about ISTE. Chances are if you have spent 5 minutes on Twitter over the last few weeks you have seen people tweet about presenting (or not presenting) and ISTE this summer and you wondered what all the fuss was about. Hopefully this help make some sense of it all. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a nonprofit organization that “serves educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world.” ISTE is an international organization that has over 100,000 members. I first became familiar with ISTE in 2008 when I was doing research to figure out how to better use technology in my role as a teacher. I joined one of their virtual networks and I attend their annual conference and I was absolutely blown away by my experience. I have been back every year since then, mostly on my own dime. Needless to say I have become an expert on how to attend ISTE on a shoestring budget, but that is a completely different post.
Over the next few months I’m going to write a series of posts about ISTE which I hope you will find useful on some level. This first one will focus on what ISTE is and why becoming a member is beneficial to you as a professional. After this post I will narrow the focus to the ISTE standards. Later in the spring I will share some posts that will be useful to first-time conference attendees. (It is actually quite an overwhelming experience and it can be frustrating if you don’t approach it with a game plan.)
So what is ISTE? Basically, ISTE is an international professional organization that provides educators with resources, ideas, and networking opportunities to help advance the use of technology in education. Here are the highlights of what ISTE  provides for members:
  • Technology standards for a variety of different groups of people from students to administrators. These standards provide a clear picture of which skills are important in our changing society.
  • Variety of professional development opportunities including webinars, books, and online courses.
  • Advocacy opportunities to help promote change anywhere from the local to national level.
  • Membership in affiliate organizations from around the world. Many times membership in an affiliate organization means you qualify for a discounted ISTE membership.
  • Meaningful way to give back to our learning community by providing volunteer opportunities.
  • Connect with educators year-round in the online ISTE community. You can also connect with other educators using official conference hashtag which is #ISTE2015. (Rebels will use #ISTE15 so you might want to follow both.) The ISTE Twitter account, @isteconnects, is also very active and responsive to questions. You can also connect with ISTE and ISTE member on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
  • Digital and print access to entersekt.
  • ISTE’s annual conference. The conference is held at the end of June in different  cities across the United States and it attarcts anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 educators. To say it is HUGE is an understatement. This year the conference is going to be in Philadelphia and in 2016 it will be in Denver. I will write much more on the conference in the coming months but I would urge you to find a way to get there and get a room booked soon because they are filling up fast! If you are planning on attending try to find a way to get there by Saturday morning. There is always a great “unconference” that takes place and it is a usually one of the highlights of my ISTE experience each year.
Membership in ISTE is around $100 which is less than 30 cents a day. I look at it as an investment in myself. I have had the opportunity to do so many things because of my membership in ISTE. Please take a few minutes to check out their website and consider joining if you can. If you can attend their conference this summer it would be an experience that you would never forget!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best of the Week of Dec. 12, 2014

I have been busy collecting great resources, but I got behind on sharing them! If you have a few minutes before the end of the year you might want to check out some of these posts. 

  • 60 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom- Twitter is one of the most powerful communication tools we can use. We can connect to anyone in the world in an instant. Lots of educators shy away from it because they see it as a waste of time, but when used with a purpose it can help us do so many great things! Students are already using it so why not incorporate it into our repertoire? This article has lots of interesting ways that students across grade levels can use Twitter in the classroom.
  • 12 Expert Twitter Tips for the Classroom- This post explores how Twitter can help make connections between learning and concepts.
  • How ‘Deprogramming’ Kids From How to ‘Do School’ Could Improve Learning- This article explores what differentiated instruction looks like and how one teacher completely transformed his classroom by using a different approach.
  • Mission #1: The Power of the Blog- This blog will probably only appeal to math teachers, but it's a really good resource so I wanted to share it.
  • Creating on a Chromebook- Peter Vogel is a Canadian educator who was one of the first to use Chromebooks. He has shared this doc that is a list of common tasks and apps that students can use to complete the tasks. It's a great resource!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Stories in the Data

Last week when I was at the Google Teacher Academy in Ausin, Texas I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Aviles. He was a brilliant and energetic lead learner and his session on 21st Century Storytelling left my head spinning. The focus of this session was how we can look at data and tell a story with it. Chris introduced us to a tool called Ngram viewer. Ngram allows you to search for words in over 5 million books that date back 500 years. I don't know about you, but I think that is incredibly impressive!

David Warlick just wrote a post about how he is using Ngram to help him write a book about this history of educational technology. Imagine all of the possible ways that students could use this in a classroom! Instead of telling students how events and people are related, with some guidance, they can begin discovering these connections for themselves.

Ngram is not the only powerful tool that you can use to search data. Here are some other ones that Chris shared with us:

  •  Google Trends- shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages. Click here to learn more about Trends.
  • Google Scholar- Google defines Scholar as a "simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research."
  • Google News Archive- Search current or archived news stories from the US and other countries. Users can also search by topic.
  • YouTube Trends- Google describes YouTube trends as "a new destination for the latest trending videos and video trends on YouTube and a resource for daily insight into what’s happening in web video."
  • Google Correlate- Google Correlate is a tool which enables you to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The target can either be a real-world trend that you provide (e.g., a data set of event counts over time) or a query that you enter.
Possible applications for these tools: 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Creativity through Photography

Earlier this week I attended the Google Teacher Academy in Austin, Texas where I had the privilege of learning with over 50 of the brightest minds in education. One of my favorite learning sessions was Mobileography which was led by Cory Pavicich and Nicole Dalesio. We learned about about design principles as well as how to use NFC (Near Field Communication) tags. This article explains how NFC's work and this one provides some interesting ways to use them.

I enjoyed this session because ever since I was really young I loved taking pictures. I remember getting my first 35mm camera when I was in elementary school. When I was in high school I took an entire year of photography and I learned how to develop my own pictures. I can still remember the chemical odor of the darkroom and my excitement as the images began to develop. While darkrooms are a thing of the past for most of us what has replaced it is better! Mobile devices allow us to take pictures of everything which is great, but it can also be overwhelming! I learned how to take better and more interesting pictures in this session.

Imagine how photographs can enhance what we do in the classroom! If we teach students to take great shots and then use those images to tell a story. Photos can be used in so many creative ways to help students express their learning. If that isn't enough here are even more nine more projects to try with your students. I encourage you to think of a way to incorporate photography into your classroom before Christmas. Even if you have just a couple of devices students can take turns taking pictures. Take them outside and have them explore our world! Then for fun take a series of pictures and use Auto Awesome to create a movie!

Here are more resources shared by Cory and Nicole: