Tag Archives: Maker Space

Reflections on ISTE 2016

I have just returned from the 2016 ISTE Conference in Denver Colorado. Like every ISTE conference, I return both exhausted and exhilarated. I had a personal milestone at ISTE, becoming the Chair for the Independent School Educator’s Network; I am both excited and a little overwhelmed about the prospects of the new year. Looking back at ISTE, here are a few of the highlights.

Amazon Inspire

gallery-1467038201-amazon-inspire-landscapeAmazon announced the beta launch of its teacher platform, Amazon Inspire. It will be a free marketplace for teachers to access lesson plans, worksheets, and a variety of instructional materials. This is Amazon’s first serious step into the education market and I’m curious to see how it evolves. I signed up for early access, and you can to using this link.

Google Rolls out even more Tools

Google highlighted some very cool tools. One that especially caught my eye is Google Cast; this is a Chrome extensions that will allow users to project their screen wirelessly from one Chrome browser to another. It’s still in beta form, but holds a lot of promise. Google has also double downed on their programming tool Pencil. They have provided a lot of free tools to make programming with Pencil much easier and some tools to help you get started coding music, games, and art. It’s a great tool to bring coding into your classroom.

Microsoft Doubles Down on OneNote & MineCraft

Microsoft_OneNote_2013_logo.svgMicrosoft is putting a lot of weight behind OneNote (its powerful note-taking tool); paired with a Surface or other touch-based computer, it’s a great resource in the classroom. While I’m a great fan, I still see it reserved solely for older students (think High School and College) power users. It’s interface will intimidate beginners and it’s far too complex for elementary and all but the most advanced middle-schoolers. MineCraft was literally everywhere. One of my goals for the next year is to become more proficient in this tool so that I can bring it into my classroom.

Makerspaces are having a Moment

My good friend Vinnie Vrotny has been a makerspace advocate far before they were “a thing.” He put together and hosted our Makerspace Playground, highlighting cool activities and learning spaces that encourage exploration and creativity. Various themes on makerspaces and tinkering were omnipresent on the exhibitor floor as well as in various sessions.

ISTE is always an exciting time for educators, we get to see what’s coming and what has been going on at other schools around the world. I’m excited to watch these new tools unfold over the next year and then reflect on them again next year after ISTE 2017 in San Antonio.

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iPad Summit Pre-Conference at Cambridge Innovation Center & MIT Media Lab

It’s November so I have left beautiful South Florida (where it was 77 degrees) to Boston (50 degrees and dropping) for the annual iPad Summit hosted by EdTechTeacher. For the first time in a long time, I am attending a conference solely as a learner. Instead of prepping for my own presentations, I just get to enjoy the events.

This year, they switched up the pre-conference workshops. I had the privilege of visiting the Cambridge Innovation Center and MIT’s Media Lab. What I loved about this was that it wasn’t about curriculum, lesson plans, or pedagogy. Instead, it was a big picture discussion. What are employers looking for today? How do we foster entrepreneurship in our students? I also got to see some great tools in action that I am not allowed to share with the public.

At the Cambridge Innovation Center, we met Vickie the founder of Youth CITIES, an organization that fosters entrepreneurship in young children. In meeting with her and other leaders in innovative practices, the notion that “it’s what you can do, not what you know” was highlighted. If we can get kids to think outside the box and build professional networks, they will be ahead of the curve in the real world. They also encourage more team building and social interaction. While in academics we are graded solo, in the real world we work in teams and on projects.

These magnets change color when you press them! Thanks Gail for the pic!

These magnets change color when you press them! Thanks Gail for the pic!

After lunch, we got to visit the MIT Media Lab. If you are familiar with the work of Seymour Papert, you know that he espouses the view that we learn by doing and grow by sharing and collaborating with others. The Media Lab highlighted this experience to the extreme. All around us were open labs. While the focus was technology the projects were on medical sciences, music, and we finished in Lifelong Kindergarten where, surrounded by legos, we learned about Scratch, Scratch Jr., and (my favorite) MakeyMakey:

The Education Arcade, with its focus on learning using games, was the highlight of my day!

I wish I could put down on paper all that I learned, but I’m just starting to process it all. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the conference brings!

Day 1 at ISTE

Today was my first day at the 2014 ISTE Conference. If you have never attended ISTE, it’s often awe-inspiring as well as overwhelming. It’s an exciting and exhilarating time for educators – especially those of us passionate about the role of technology in education. I spent much of the day catching up with my peers that I only see on the conference circuit, including my old classmate Moss Pike, Ph.D. from the Harvard Westlake School, my friend and mentor Larry Kahn (soon to be Tech Director of the Iolani School), and Vinnie Vrotney (the new Tech Director of the Kinkaid School and new chair of the ISTE Independent School Educator Network).

There is so much that I am looking forward to this week – seeing what Google has up its sleeve (especially Classroom), learning what other schools are doing, the Maker Playground on Tuesday 9:00 – 1:00pm! It’s going to be an exciting conference!