#ISTE17 Thoughts So Far

I landed in San Antonio on Saturday morning, and got to spend some time exploring the city. In short, not a fan. There just doesn’t seem to be much going on. Lots of chain restaurants (YUCK!) and touristy stops. Had some great tortillas at one place though, so not all is lost.

I’m not alone on my adventure. As I have done the last couple years, I have others from my school with me. This year, I’m joined by our former CRT Toby Hurst. We spent a lot of our time yesterday discussing educational philosophy, the ups and downs of education, and where we think the big problems are and how we can fix them. More on those discussions will be released with my podcast episode on June 30th, so stay tuned.

We also noticed that teachers look like teachers. We haven’t exactly been able to pinpoint the reason, but walking around the city yesterday we definitely could look at a group of 2 to 4 people and say “those are teachers,” or “yup, definitely teachers.” We also worried ourselves with whether or not we looked like teachers. Given that we couldn’t exactly say what it was that made the other teachers look as such, we couldn’t be sure, but somehow in our hearts, we both hoped that we didn’t give that aura off.

Still, that isn’t really the point of being here. I’m here for ISTE, and while the expo hall doesn’t open until tomorrow, there are still sessions to be checked out today.

I started my morning with a solid breakfast (it is the most important meal of the day, so if you’re in town, I recommend Schilo’s) and then picked up my badge. My next stop was the Bloggers Cafe. It’s up on the top floor off to the corner. It has a handful of tables with charging ports, some other comfy chairs, and a couple of screens. If you are reading this and want to know where to find me, that’s probably the place I’ll be if I’m not in a session.

I also jumped into the tail end of the TeachMeet ISTE session before the lunch break. It is an unconference style where participants get up and share some of their work. I only caught a few presenters, but their ideas were solid. Full notes for that session here.

The first one I stepped in on was Chantell Manahan talking about using pop-culture in to engage your students. One idea she had was using screencastify to record a video clip without the original audio, and instead have the students voice over their own audio. The example she showed us was from one of the Romeo and Juliette movies, and the students added their own paraphrased and funny audio to the scene. She also had students do a “Iron Chef” challenge, in which they had 18 minutes to make a 5 slide presentation (1 slide per group member) and then present. The big advantage to this is that students create and present all in one period (so interaction with content and assessment of learning in one period). You can checkout all her slides from the presentation (with examples) here.

The other one that I thought was awesome was Jay Eitner talking about getting students connected to the internet at home. Now, I’ve heard these kinds of presentations before, and certainly internet access for all students at my school is a problem from time to time. What I hadn’t heard about were two of the ways he is helping his students. One is called the FCC Lifeline. This is apparently a government grant that will help off-set the cost of a low-cost internet. In order to qualify, students must be on Free and Reduced Lunch through the school. They can then apply for the approximately $10 a month internet option from the local internet provider. Then, they can apply for the FCC Lifeline grant, which will have the FCC reimburse the internet provider for $9.75 a month, making the at-home internet cost only 25 cents for the family!! WOW!! He also talked about the EveryoneOn program, which, in a nutshell, provides a 4G wireless hotspot with 4 GB of 4G internet and unlimited 3G after that, to families for up to 10 devices for only $78 a year. Details for FCC Lifeline can be found here and EveryoneOn can be found here.

I’ll be back with two more posts today when I checkout IGNITE Round 1 (I LOVE IGNITE!) and the Opening Key Note.