ISTE 2011 – Day 1

Today was exhausting, but productive, fulfilling and exciting, overall. We started the day by grabbing some breakfast at a nearby coffee shop and then ventured off to Love Park in JFK Plaza. We took some touristy pictures with the LOVE sculpture and then returned to our hotel to catch the shuttle to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for registration. 

We registered, picked up some loot and then took off for Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center. Since this was technically our only available day to sightsee, we wanted to take full advantage of it. Again, we took some cheesy pictures beside the Liberty Bell and paintings of B. Franklin and then headed back to the convention center. There is a lot of great history here! 

We decided to visit the newbies lounge in “The Hive” and there I met two of my PLN pals from Twitter – @ and @ ! It’s really exciting to meet your friends in the Twitterverse and I hope to have more opportunities to do so this week.  

Zulma worked on homework and I went downstairs to the atrium to peruse the SIGs. Here I joined the following ISTE SIGs:

  • 1 to 1 Computing
  • Technology Coordinators
  • Computing Teachers
  • Online Learning

You can read more about SIGs here and I suggest that you join at least one if you are involved in edtech in some way. I picked up some ribbons from the SIG kiosks and even found one that was made especially for me. If you know me, you’ll get it. 🙂 

While Zulma worked on homework (still!), I got in line and waited for the keynote. I believe I waited in line for 45 minutes because there are tens of thousands of attendees at this conference and I had to get a good seat! After almost getting plowed over by a group of people, we managed to score the second row and a candy bar from Dell – double score! 

The keynote address was pretty entertaining and presented by Dr. John Medina, author of “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.” I plan on downloading this book on Kindle after I finish reading 5-10 of the other books that are currently in my queue. Some of the hightlights of Dr. Medina’s presentation were tweeted and retweeted all over Twitter and included revolutionary statements such as:

  • “An effective teacher is one that can fill in the missing boxes in student brains.”
  • Human learning – 1) memorize facts, 2) then improvise off of it. Need both!”
  • “Classroom (and cubicle) setting is the worst possible location for the brain to do what it was designed to do naturally” – I cringe when I see students confined to their desks in the classroom or when I hear about students missing recess. This has a lot to do with why I am sending my children to a Montessori school. They need to be up and moving – our brains were designed for it. 
  • “The human brain is made to solve problems, related to survival, in an outdoor setting, in constant motion, in unstable weather.” – This is pretty much the OPPOSITE of the traditional classroom most of us grew up in. Let’s take our kids outside with iPads and go on nature walk or a tour of a historical city…take pictures, record audio of what they are seeing and hearing. This is the classroom I want to be in!! 

And my favorite: “School uniforms should be gym clothes” and “Regular aerobic exercise improves brain function.” Kids should NOT be confined to sitting in desks all day long and adults should not be sitting in cubicles either. Our brains were not designed to work in these environments. 

Thank you, Dr. Medina, for an inspiring and thought-provoking keynote. It truly reaffirmed my desire to support teachers in their efforts to utilize PBL with technology in the classroom. 

I am looking forward to the upcoming sessions I plan on attending this week! I took the advice of an ISTE pro and highlighted several sessions of interest just in case the one or two I planned on were full or not what I thought they were. I’ve enjoyed using the ISTE mobile app to add sessions of interest to my conference planner. It really helps keep my schedule organized and easy to follow. Here are some of the sessions I’ve highlighted in the planner for Monday: 


8:30-9:30 – BYOL: Meeting the Common Core: Rigorous, Relevant, Project-Based Learning Enhanced through Technology

12:45-1:45 –  Spotlight: Language in Action! Using Animation to Enhance Language Learning 

12:45-1:45 – BYOL: Making Text Accessible to Struggling Students 

2:30-3:30 – Spotlight:  Infographics in the Classroom as a Creative Assessment 

4:15-5:15 – Lectures and Panels: Engaging Education: Student-Created Media Projects

4:15-5:15 – Lectures and Panels: Project-Based Learning in Hand

5:30-6:45 – Birds of a Feather: Devices or Data? 

Tomorrow I will take time to reflect on what I’ve learned from each of these sessions and hopefully exchange some ideas and thoughts with those in my PLN as well! 

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