Guest Blog Post

My guest blogger is Adam DeWitt. He is currently the principal at Oconto Middle School and was previously my middle school principal at Marinette Middle School. In this post  that he has shared with me, he discusses some of the technology tools he learned about at the ISTE 2014 Conference.

10 ISTE 2014 Takeaways

When a conference the size of ISTE unfolds, it is hard to outline all of my learnings in a single post.  So, to help me solidify my learning from the collective cadre of educators I am providing my list of 10 takeaways.

10.  Vendors.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the vendors that supported the ISTE effort.  Obviously, they stand togain from their interest in ISTE, but without their investment in learning, the ISTE Conference would be drastically different and not for the better.

9.  Aurasma.  An augmented reality tool that allows you to see and interact with the world differently.  Augmented reality is just beginning to make an impact in education, but its potential looms large on the horizon.  Social media giant Facebook would agree.  Facebook purchased another augmented reality set of goggles for a cool $2 billion dollars.   Pretty cool that Aurasma is much cheaper!  One presenter, James Kapptie (@jpk38) provided an interactive session with ISTE attendees outside for an unconventional approach.  Great idea Mr. Kapptie.

8.  Diigo.  This isn’t a new tool, but when you realize how many experts use this tool to store their web searches to share with the world, why not use it too.  Allen November is willing to share his Diigo library with the world and I am better for it.  If Diigo is blocked in your school and district, be a change agent and ask for it to be unblocked.  Our students are social learners.  Let’s help them maximize their learning with this very affordable tool, free.

7.  Story Telling.  Telling stories has always been a great way to share information in an engaging way.  Steve Dembo (@teach42) shared an entire bag of tricks in relation to story telling using Youtube and other video tools.  Instead of listing all of his tricks, enjoy the Prezi.  If you ever get the chance to listen and interact with Steve be ready to learn and laugh.  Great presenter!

6.  Search Operators.  Google doesn’t think in English terms.  Allen November made a great case for us to provide our students with challenges that force them to think like the people on the other side of the argument.  He asked the audience to find “schools that teach The American Revolution in England”.  Searching the terms verbatim provide a much different set of results than: “American Revolution”.  We must prepare our students for solving problems and using search more accurately could be a first step.  Check out these resources provided by Google.

5.  Youtube.  Students learn better when they have choices.  There is a little known tool within Youtube called annotation.  The annotation tool will allow you to annotate the videos and could also lead to the creation of videos that allow students to choose the ending of the story.  Very engaging.

4.  Voxer.  This isn’t the newest tool out there, but it became a great way to coordinate while meeting others at ISTE 2014.  Voxer would also be a great tool for mass communication with students on field trips.  Essentially, it is a free walkie talkie app on steroids.

3.  Remind.  Some 7th grade teachers at Marinette Middle School experimented with this app during this past school year.  This could be another way to connect with families on the go in short memos about anything related to school.  Be careful to not over communicate!  Building relationships just got a bit easier.  However, don’t use this tool as the only form of communication.  Talking to people is still a valued skill.

2.  Kahoot.  Are you looking to engage your students more this year?  Kahoot describes themselves as an easy-to-use, game-based, blended learning & classroom engagement tool for schools, universities & businesses.  Steve Dembo and Adam Bellow demonstrated how to use Kahoot during one of the sessions at ISTE 2014 and we were all engaged.  Flip Kahoot and have the students create the Kahoot for whole class reviews based on different learner needs.  The tool is easy to use and highly engaging.

1.  My biggest takeaway from ISTE 2014 yielded little in terms of technology.  Each keynote, session host, and exhibitor that I chatted with talked about students first and technology second, third, or further away from the instruction.  Our closing keynote was the 2013 Teacher of the Year, Jeff Charbonneau.  He said it best when he summed up the conference in one four letter word, KIDS.  Keep our kids at the center of what we do and the achievement scores will take care of themselves.  Good teaching hasn’t changed, just the tools.  Education will always be a people first service.  Thanks ISTE for a great conference!!!



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