While going through the notes I took during the two day ITEC conference, I decided to see if my takeaways matched the "Big Ideas" shared during the sessions I attended. I pasted my notes into Wordle, and came up with the word cloud pictured above. I was pleased to see my "ah ha" moments did in fact match up. Attending and presenting at conferences can be reinvigorating and rejuvenating for educators, and the connections made and new ideas gained allows me to go back to the building refreshed and ready to implement activities and strategies that impact student learning.
As a parting statement, first Keynote Adam Bellow mentioned, it isn't important what you learn during the conference, it's what you do Wednesday (once the conference is over) that matters. I've compiled a list of Takeaways and Next Steps, that I look forward to implementing and reflecting on this year.
1. Teacher Tinker Time (shared by @Coffeechugbooks)
I'd like to begin Teacher Tinker Time as it would allow staff to come to my room and explore new tools, bounce around ideas, and design activities they can take back to their classroom.
2. Creation, Creation, Creation
Every presenter and keynote speaker I heard over the two day conference stressed the importance of letting students create. Whether this is through writing, playing with legos, producing a movie, or coding an app, by allowing students to create we are allowing them to find what they are passionate about.
3. Publish and share ideas
Along with having students create, it is important they do something with this work. This could be as simple as posting a story to a blog, a video to youtube, or submitting an eBook to the iBooks store. When students have the opportunity to receive feedback from a world wide audience, not only will they be motivated to continue learning and sharing their ideas, but will also feel they are a contributing member and a leader in society.
4. Connection is Vital
While I consider myself a connected educator, I need to do more to connect my students as well. While I have brought poets, authors, Olympians, news anchors, and climbers, these connections were arranged by me. I need to get the students involved and connected with peers and experts outside our classroom and building walls. Yes, my being connected does benefit students, but the true benefit will occur when students seek out answers themselves, and reach out to experts to gain answers on their own. Empowering students can be scary, and yes, I will run into road bumps, but that's when teachable moments are embraced. But, I feel the reward outweighs the risk.
5. Make your mark and see where it takes you
The final keynote speaker of ITEC 2014 was Peter H Reynolds, author or The Dot. During his keynote, Peter stressed the importance of allowing students to make their mark on the world. One of my favorite statements Reynolds made was "Stop controlling ever move a student makes, and they'll give [learning] a twist."
1. Begin a "Teacher Tinker Time" in my building
2. Work with primary students and teachers to get students creating and publishing work.
3. Pursue the possibility of adding a Makerspace to our building.
4. Share learning with staff and PLN through social media, in person conversations and presentations, and teacher tinker time.
5. Continue connecting with educators and building my PLN.