#ISTE2015: Tuesday Round-Up

Another crazy, learning-filled day! I may have to split it into two parts because there was just! So! Much!

My first session of the day was from Erin Klein (@KleinErin) and Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp), two engaging & charming speakers, who are both still in the classroom. I have so much respect for professional development-providers who are also still in the classroom. Ms. Klein & Ms. Ripp talked about providing students with a voice, and that seemed to be a theme of my day. These speakers were strong advocates for their students, and they used technology to provide their students with a voice, and with authentic writing experiences. It was far from technology for technology’s sake.


Some tools that they shared for helping students communicate their ideas included:

  • Livescribe’s (@LivescribeK12) sound stickers, which can record teacher instructions, student stories, and anything else in between. They showed us a child using it to record bird chirps for a nature project, and I can also envision adding sound effects to a narrative story, adding dialogue to a comic, and to having students record their stories and ideas, especially if they have a writing difficulty
  • They were also one of many supporters of Book Creator (@BookCreatorApp) for student-written books, and they mentioned Smore as well for
  • My other favorite resource that they shared was Brad Wilson’s (@dreambition) two tools: writeabout.com (@MyWriteabout) for upper elementary and middle grade students and tellaboutapp.com (an iPad app) for younger students or struggling learners. This tool allows for an authentic audience, and when I caught up with Brad later, he shared how many SLPS’s and special educators are using it to motivate students to write and share their ideas. He also talked about the various interest groups that already exist (a Minecraft one, naturally), and that teachers can create their own (e.g. for book talks). Plus, I love their motto: WRITING SHOULD BE FUN!

Then I went to a game-based learning playground where I learned about fantastic games from Matthew Farber (@matthewfarber). Since I don’t want to plagiarize, I will direct you to his website about mobile games that are game-based not just “chocolate-covered broccoli.”



After that, I was thrilled to see Greg Toppo (@gtoppo), who is a fantastic speaker, and all-around badass. While he did talk about games, he talked about the power of games and technology, and about the responsibility teachers have to “release control” and embrace progressive thinking (including, but not limited to, evidence-based games). He also completely blew my mind about how much technology has grown (way beyond Moore’s law as we know). He provided great examples of just how much faster, more efficient, and cheaper computers are now than when they were first created. He shared a quote by Dr. Ed Lazowska on the topic, who said, “A house would cost the same as a nice bottle of wine,” as comparison. Lastly, he shared a must-read: John Markoff’s What the Dormouse Said about how the anti-establishment in the 1960’s gave rise to the PC in the 1970’s. I’ve already bought it, and I’m excited to dive in (after I work my way through some of my other tsudonku).

I also heard Dr. Jackie Gersetein (@jackiegerstein) speak about the necessity of the SAMR model and “Web 3.0” (or at the very least 2.0). There is no longer room for technology as substitution, nor boring lessons! Students want to be engaged, they want to create their own content, and they want to collaborate and comment on each other’s work. There are so many ways of doing this, but the audience suggested Kidblog and Google Apps (Docs, Slides, and Sheets with commenting enabled).

Then a session from Common Sense media, which shared 3 tools recommended by teachers on their Graphite (@Graphite) site:

  • ReadWorks (@ReadWorks), which I’ve previously only used for passages (which I found to be somewhat boring) apparently has more than just boring passages! They have Skill & Strategy Units, Comprehension Units, and Novel Study Units that seemed well-designed…and it’s all free & web-based!
  • StudySync (@StudySync), which has a “TV channel” with short movies that summarize popular books, an annotation feature that allows teachers to view their student’s work in real-time, writing prompts, and even current events (with text boxes with reflections). Requires a subscription, web-based.
  • LightSail (@lightsailed), which has over 80,000 books based on various reading levels with teacher-designed notes, annotation/interactive tools, novel study with curriculum checks, literature circle (with reflection prompts), and personalized word wall. Requires a paid subscription, for iPad & Android.

I also attended a BrainPOP session, which was not about the Game-Based Learning I’d wanted, but their Mindmap tools were ultimately very engaging, in line with evidence-based research, and self-differentiating. One aha moment was in how the presenter likened the maps to our neural connections, and encouraged continually updating the mind maps to support Growth Mindset. Like any mind map, the hierarchies are excellent for reading comprehension and pre-writing, and when paired with details, you’ve got yourself a paragraph/essay. I also learned a lot about ants making mine :º) The Mindmaps are currently available for BrainPOP, but the feature is coming to BrainPOP, Jr. soon. The tool relatively easy to use, and certainly has potential.

blurry mind map about ants

blurry mind map about ants

Thereafter, I went to the @InclusiveLN and @GoogleforEdu playgrounds and I validated some tools I already used, and learned some new tools. A few of my faves are listed below:

  • Clicker Books (by Crick software), which is like Book Creator, but allows for amazing scaffolds, including templates, sentence starters, embedded pictures, and more. Definitely something I’ll be checking out for my younger grade students
  • DocentEdu (@DocentEdu), Molly Schroeder (@followmolly) recommended this tool, and I love it! It allows teachers to annotate any website, with highlights, sticky notes, embedded videos, quizzes, and chats. A phenomenal tool that appears easy-to-use!
  • I knew the Omnibox could be used as a search tool & calculator & timer, but I didn’t know it could be used as a dice-roller or coin-tosser! I love that you can use it for randomness, but I love it even more as an opportunity to discuss how those tools are programmed
  • I wrote about how much I love the various uses of Wordle yesterday, but little did I know, there’s a Chrome Extension for it! You can get a world cloud of a website instantly with Word Cloud Website, or use Word Cloud Generator, which lets you put in any URL and get a world cloud of it, which is a great conversation tool or “main idea” generator/critique
  • Molly and Kim Meldrum (@MeldrumKim), whom I was also honored to see, also supported the following apps, which I also adore!:

Well, I apologize for shmushing all of that into one blog post. Lucky that it’s already so long, or I’d include a review of @Edtechkaraoke (#ETK15). It was a blast! Amazed by all of the main stage singers, and very much entertained by all of the side stage singers :º) The winner (@technicolorr) absolutely deserved the title.

P.S. For those wondering about my goal from yesterday: Yes! I made connections! I had conversations! …and it was scary!

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