So, first off, my noble & far-reaching idea of writing a new blog post each night of ISTE was thwarted by exhaustion & faulty internet, therefore I will now attempt to compile all of the thoughts, ideas, reflections, etc here. Eeeck! Before skimming through & highlighting the actual conference I would like to ramble in a run-off sentence sort of fashion and profess my love for Philadelphia. Dear Philadelphia, I love you. I was so taken back by the streets, buildings, architecture, murals, sculptures, history etc. The overall richness of the city was so alive & it was as though you could literally feel the heartbeat of the city as you walked. The city & its locals were so bright, full of color & light. I am so glad we arrived Saturday afternoon & were able to see Independence Hall, the liberty bell (which deserves its whole own post) & walk all over center city exploring & basking in the beauty (& weather because helloooooo 70s and a breeze does not exist in Alabama in late June!) Below are some of my favorite pictures I took wandering around the city itself, & I would love to go on & on professing my love for Philadelphia but alas I must move on to the reason I was so lucky to get to this city in the first place —- The ISTE Conference!
Aside from my love-hate relationship with the massiveness of the conference center itself ISTE11 was an overwhelming success on so many levels & I will do my best to highlight the most moving & thought provoking aspects of my experience…ok, in no particular order or organization here goes…(be aware of quick subject jumps & excited rambling, I will try to keep this to a minimum)
I knew I was going to be in love with this conference when the welcome keynote began with break dancers & this —>
John Medina, who can be found here —> http://www.brainrules.net/ was energetic, passionate & kept me on my seat through his whole presentation. Some of the most interesting or what Oprah likes to call “ah-ha! moments” (haha) I took away from him are as follows:
1. An educators take on data & an “unnatural” classroom environment
He discussed the importance of being data-driven, which we all (or should all) agree is central to why & how we do what we do but he took it a step further in explaining why education is in the situation it is today. To the effect of “data is the same words with a different set of meanings ” meaning people look at the same data and have wildly different views thus the creation of a classroom design that goes wildly again what the brain is naturally prepared to do.
2. Things he said that I thought were brilliant & wanted to expand on more later in no particular order…
The Brain Rule —> “every brain is wired differently from every other brain and learning in ways unique to that wiring”
On how we learn —> “all of human learning occurs in the alleys, not the highways”
“IF ALL YOU DO IS MEMORIZE, YOU ARE FAILING THE HUMAN BRAIN”
“one must revisit the database & create an ability to improvise” <— For me personally, this is where project-based, inquiry-based, & problem-based learning is absolutely critical in creating adaptable, prepared, globally-minded, aware students that aren’t only able to question (which is SO crucial) but also able to discuss & find or better yet create the many facets of an answer. Medina goes on to say that students must be able to see & understand a new idea, file that idea, & then improvise it. The improvisation is where critical thinking, application & independent learning all occur. Without this step we are just creating robots people, you can program a robot to fix a specific problem that the robot is trained to fix but you cannot create a robot that can adapt to true 21st century, global problems. The robot would blow up, & I personally want my students (who are not, nor could or will ever be robots) to soar, not blow up. As educators, to stop said student (not robot) from blowing up in this “ever-changing world we live in”, we must be able to recognize individual learning gaps, fill them & give our students purposeful assignments that will allow them to question, analyze, create & adapt. We must be supporters of fluid learners.
Lastly, Medina discussed the theory of mind through the statement “what is obvious to you is obvious to YOU.” Educators must not only accept & understand the fact that they are teaching individuals not a group of, well to stay in theme, robots but must also be aware of each individual learners need, emotions, interests, etc. To prepare students for a globally connected & ever-changing world we must support each individual learner to ensure each is getting what they need. This has to be understood & applied to create an environment where individuals can learn together & take what they have learned out into the world and, well, rock! Oh, wow…there is no way this can all be one post, please disregard the aforementioned statement about me smashing all of ISTE 11 into this one post, sorry! to be continued…