Friday, July 4, 2014

Top Take-aways from #ISTE2014

In honor of my recent trip to #ISTE2014, this week's favorite finds post is about all of the great presentations, tech tools, and apps for the classroom. The ISTE exhibit hall was packed with vendors, giveaways, and lots to see, so much so that at times it felt like my head was spinning!
Of all that I saw, I had some definite favorites (you know the kind that have you are already looking for funding resources).  While I understand that different people are looking for different products. my top choices were:
  1. The Swivl - It's a audio and video presentation system that follows the person speaking to allow for hands-free/remote-free videoing.  It has picture in picture capabilities making flipping the classroom and videoconferencing a personal experience.
  2. The Variquest Perfecta 2400 poster printer - swoon!!!  Seriously!!!  Ever since I visited the Ron Clark Academy and saw the students' life-size pics, I have wanted a printer to print my own photos and posters.  The Variquest printer will do just that and more!  For this teacher who skews a bit crafty at times, the Variquest booth was pure heaven...with their vinyl cutout machines to cold laminators, it was all great.
  3. MOOC Studios by iStudio - I had a chance to play in this green screen space complete with backgrounds, video software, and set-up.  It was fun and I can imagine our school's news crew would have a blast in this easy to assemble, portable studio. 
The presentations at #ISTE2014 were fantastic. I had a chance to hear published authors, a science teacher of the year, and even a TEDTalk presenter. I went to sessions featuring topics on which I wanted to learn more.  Some of my favorite presentations and presenters were:
  1. I had never heard anyone speak on visual literacy, but I was in for a treat at this session with Dr. Lynell Burmark. Not only was she charming and an excellent presenter, she also shared information that could be applied to any subject and any grade level. She used pictures and videos to relay her message and kept us all engaged with interactive strategies designed to have us infer and share our thoughts in our own words (key skills for the Common Core).  Biggest standout: When eyes take in an image and ears take in words, students recall of information increases by 42% and their ability to transfer the information is raised 89%. Question to self: So, why aren't I using stimulating images in my classroom?
  2. Obviously Evernote has changed since I first signed up for it some years ago and thankfully Rob Zdrojewski had stayed with it and shared the ins and outs of the tool. I absolutely had no idea that I could use my camera to store business cards and documents, nor did I truly understand the search features available. All I can say is that I spent at least an hour in my hotel room taking pics of all of my conference goodies and tossing the hard copies. After hearing his presentation, I refused all pieces of paper offered in the exhibitor hall, but captured all of the information I needed with my app. I even asked someone a question and then recorded their audio response using my phone's mic - lol! Kind of in love!!! Since I have been home, I found, a blog platform that allows users to blog from within Evernote and simply hit publish when they are done. I am thinking that this might be a clean solution for our English teachers who have wanted their students to blog, but were overwhelmed with the actual implementation.
  3. Finally, Al Pajak shared on Flipping the Classroom with flare. While I have shared videos with my students for awhile, I can honestly say that they were no where near the caliber of the videos created by this genius. His were personal, included interaction with the viewer, and were way beyond the expected.  I think what I appreciated most was that it was obvious that the presenter loved doing this for his students. It was easy to get excited, because he was excited.  The biggest question I hear is, "how do you know if the students watch the video?" The presenter embeds his videos in a Google form and includes a question or two that can only be answered after watching the short clip...brilliant!
As you can imagine, the apps and online resources were plentiful at ISTE.  As I have mentioned, I've updated my Evernote app already, but there were a few others that I thought were worth noting:
  1. I saw Colar last year, but only loaded it after I got home - just in time for July the 4th celebrations with kiddos.  You are able to download coloring pages and then use the app to bring your drawings to life.
  2. Stevie Kline introduced me to the Library of Congress' guides for analyzing primary resources.  The site has guides for teachers and even a digital form for students.  As you look at the resource, you may think...well, so what?  But, she showed an image of students sitting on the floor with a large poster. On the poster paper, the teacher had taped a primary source picture and had written guiding questions.  As students worked in small groups, what they observed depended on their perspective. As we went through a similar activity, I found that I did not necessarily see the clues that others were spotting.  Like me, this could be an activity that some need to practice more than once.
  3. All of my tech-y teacher friends in Texas seemed to be pros at using Thinglink (both an app and online tool).  I, on the other hand, wasn't sure how to get started linking images to URLs, videos and texts.  I ran into the founder and got a private lesson and even a sneak peek to the newest feature...Thinglinks inside of videos!  I think that I am going to get a late start on a  Thinglink Summer Teacher Challenge hosted by Susan Oxnevad just to give it a try. 
It was a whirlwind of a trip...full of information, creative energy, connections, and even prizes! So worth it; so fun!
iPad Air: Thank you #splashmath

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