I just returned from the ISTE 2010 conference in Denver, Colorado.  I was privileged to be with a group of wonderful teachers from my district who challenged me to think deeply about the reasons why we use technology with out students.  I took some time to pick out sessions that would show me new approaches to teaching and learning.  I’m sure that I will be reflecting on the conference for a very long time, but here are some of the big ideas that I want to spend more time developing in my own educational practice.

Developing, Designing and Delivering Presentations:
Ken Shelton and Robert Craven provided me with food for thought about creating presentations which use visuals to communicate a message. They provided great resources and my take-away is that I want to encourage students and teachers at my school to use cameras and create a comprehensive library of images that we can share with each other.  I also want to eliminate those bullets from my presentations and continue to look for ways to involve my audience through interactive activities.

Matching Teachers and Technology and Birds of a Feather sessions:
Rushton Hurley had a great interactive session which engaged the audience.  He has a list of things to do and things not to do to provide effective staff development for teachers.  He emphasized not teaching in a computer lab, but instead using staff meeting time for teachers to share student work and ideas for projects.  I started that process this year with a faculty Ning, but I need to provide teachers with more opportunities for sharing in teams.  I experienced the power of teamwork at ISTE while meeting with four other teachers from my district.  We had impromptu sharing sessions and inspired each other with great ideas.   The Google Certified Teachers Birds of a Feather session also made me think about ways to improve sharing at my school.  GCTs came to the front of the room in this smackdown and shared one thing that they were doing in their classroom or school.  There were so many fantastic ideas shared in that one hour session!  We need to provide our teachers with this sharing time in school and then great things will happen in the classroom.  Teachers need to be given opportunities to inspire each other.

1-1 Computing and Designing Learning Spaces:
I attended a few sessions about 1-1 computing environments and am very excited that so many states are looking at ways to provide each student with a learning device.  There are a variety of research studies coming out providing valuable data on how to make 1-1 projects successful.  I have had some experience this year working with a teacher in our state digital textbook pilot.  Just from that small pilot, I have seen some of the same results that are being reported in research studies.  Students do communicate more with the teacher and are more engaged in assignments and projects.  I definitely want to continue learning more about what works and what pitfalls to avoid.  I also attended a session on learning spaces by Chris Johnson from the University of Arizona.  He emphasized the need for building spaces that allow us to interact with each other.  He said that the best social interactions come from sitting around the fire.  This is definitely true for me.  I love the chance to meet with small teams and work in an environment that facilitates collaboration and communication.

The Tools:
A conference wouldn’t be complete without attending sessions about new technology tools.  I loved Leslie Fisher’s presentation on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad apps.  She shared a great list of resources, and I can see many great uses for educational applications.  Sometimes you just need to attend a session to get a new idea for something that you’ve been doing for a while.  I work a lot with students and teachers on Google Earth projects.  I attended the Google Earth Web 2.0 Mashup and came away with some great ideas.  I had never though about embedding a timeline in a Google Earth placemark.  Now I’m going to be taking more time to look at ways to embed content in my GE placemarks for more interactive activities.  In the vendor hall, Dan Russell from Google shared his top favorite search tools with me.  He had some great educational uses for Google News Archive and Google Sets.  I can’t wait to share his curriculum examples with my faculty.

Wrap Up:
I’m thrilled that I had the chance to meet so many new people and learn so much in a short amount of time.  If you didn’t have a chance to attend the conference, follow the tweets on Twitter by searching #ISTE10 and join the ISTE Ning to find presentation links – http://www.iste2010.org/.

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