ISTE Gems! - Tech Learning

ISTE Gems!

The connections made during the conference are invaluable, but there is still a benefit with sharing the little gems with others who didn't attend.
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The Stack

Every year I return from ISTE with a backpack full of information and a Google doc filled with session notes. Like everyone else who has been to ISTE over the years, I have come to find that the connections made during the conference are invaluable, but there is still a benefit with sharing the little gems with others who didn't attend. These are just a few highlights that I found in my pile of "stuff".

Maker Movement

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I think it is safe to say that Raspberry Pi has made a dent in the maker movement, and allowed students to learn programming skills, create technology rich projects, and not break the bank in the process. At the Raspberry Pi + iPad session, MikeAmante did a great job sharing his experiences with the device and how he is using the technology with his students and plans of expanding the program in the fall. More information from Mike can be found here. A big surprise at the end of the session were two representatives from the Raspberry Pi Foundation showed up and shared news about Picademy USA; you can find more info here.

Innovators Mindset
If you have ever listened to or follow George Couros, then you understand that he has a great way of using short, but thoughtful statements that make you really think about education and what it could be. I always try and catch one of his sessions at ISTE because he never fails to provide great thoughts that can easily be shared at admin meetings, staff meetings, or lunch time conversations. Here are a few (as accurate as I could be) that he used in the session Developing the Innovators Mindset.

  • Relationships are the most important piece in schools now and in the future
  • Biggest barrier is our own way of thinking
  • Think different
  • Digital factory model is still factory model
  • Technology is more than a tool
  • Technology can be transformational in hands of a great teacher
  • Would you want to spend all day in your own classroom
  • Everyone is a teacher and a learner


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Courtesy Roy Blumenthal CC 2.0

One of the hardest thing for many educators to do is build their PLN. Taking that first step from picking which social media platform to venturing out of the four walls of the classroom can be scary, but absolutely necessary to grow as an individual. The session, The Passionate PLN, by Jessica Raleigh, was a very informative hands on experience that introduced Twitter to everyone as a way to connect and make a difference. A highlight was The Breakfast Club, #BFC530, as a place to participate in a one question twitter chat, every weekday at 5:30am. If you are looking to build your PLN and connect with others, give it a look here.

ISTE 2016

The ISTE conference has a little something for everyone and is consistent with the variety of sessions that makes it a good destination. If you are an educator looking for an event with options, want to grow your PLN, and meet like minded peers, then I would recommend educating your school boards and administrators on the opportunities ISTE has to offer. But remember, finding local events, lunch and learns, Twitter chats, coffee on a Saturday morning, also provides collaborative time and opportunity for connections to help us grow professionally. Get out of those four walls and see what others are doing and share!

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Jon Castelhano is director of technology for Apache Junction USD in Arizona and serves as an advisor to the School CIO member community, a group of top tier IT professionals in schools across the country who understand and benefit from news and information not available elsewhere. Read more at



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