Sunday, October 19, 2014

Connect, Collect, Create ~ A Reflection of #ITEC14

The fall conference of the Iowa Technology Education Connection (ITEC) was held last week More information can be found at and for those that couldn't be in attendance, (and even for those of us that were there but couldn't be in a million places at once), many presenters shared their presentation materials at this link:

I was honored to be asked this fall to become a new member of my school's technology cadre. This is an area that I have a lot of passion for and hope to not only use my new knowledge & connections to create an even better learning environment for my students, but also to use it to encourage my colleagues to connect & share the wonderful things they are doing in their classrooms with a wider audience.

I could write pages and pages about my 3-day experience at ITEC. My dozen pictures and 15 pages of notes could probably prove that. But in this reflection I decided to focus on three key words: Connect, Collect, and Create.


My colleague, Kendra Carlson and I were
able to meet author Peter Reynolds.
* I was able to spend some quality time at the conference with my school and district colleagues. Spending time with colleagues outside of the school building is a great way to get to know each other better, share ideas, and enjoy one another's company for more than 25 minutes at lunch. We went to a few sessions together, but most of the sessions we attended were different so it will be great to share and compare new ideas. It was a pleasure to spend time with teachers from my own school including Kendra Carlson, Susan Moeller, and Maggie Knox. I was able to see many other teachers and leaders from my district (Southeast Polk) at the conference which was encouraging.  I hope we can continue moving toward more technology integration as well as positively branding and sharing the great things happening in our schools. 

Having some fun at the Panda Pix Photo booth!
I'm in the back with the pink hat and red heart glasses.
*I participated in a "Classrooms Gone Google" workshop on Sunday that was facilitated by Jamie Fath, our district technology integration coordinator & ITEC team member. Jamie was also kind enough to let me hang out with her for a couple extra hours & really gain an appreciation for the work of the ITEC team behind the scenes. Plus I had the chance to meet Monday's keynote speaker, Adam Bellow.

Some of the #iaedchat leaders and supporters
at Legends downtown Des Moines.
Photo credit: Jimmy Casas
*Reconnecting with people I've met on previous occasions as well as meeting so many of my PLN friends was definitely a highlight of the conference. Meeting the people you have communicated with on Twitter and Voxer in person helps take the connection to a new level. It was awesome to hang out at Legends downtown on Sunday evening with #iaedchat moderators Jimmy Casas, Matt Degner, and Devin Schoening along with Aaron Maurer, Leslie Pralle-Keehn, Timothy Scholze, Erin Olson, Shaelynn Farnsworth, and many others. We had some good discussions while trying to also pay attention to the actual Twitter chat online. Whether it's people you work with, people you've just met, people you've wanted to meet for awhile, and people you enjoy reconnecting with, nothing beats great conversation about common interests and dreams.


*ITEC was a chance for me to collect new ideas and strategies for becoming a more effective teacher. I have great new ideas for giving students more voice through passion projects and blogs, creating instead of just consuming, and using more technology to enhance the learning experience.

*I also collected new knowledge of how to help my students research, capture, and correctly give attribution to pictures and other media to use in their projects. Like many other ITEC attendees, I have a list of new extensions and apps that I'm taking the time to look through and choose for my class to use.

Devin Schoening shared this quote with us
in his "Let Kids Be Amazing" session.
*Besides collecting ideas, I also collected a sense of reassurance that the strategies I've implemented this year and the plans I'm gathering for the future are things that can positively impact my students.

*Collecting new names of people I can keep in touch with was also a highlight of the conference. Each new person I met or had the chance to have a conversation with on Twitter or in person will be a way for me to collect new ideas, get feedback on my own ideas, and learn from now and in the future.


*Many of the ITEC sessions and keynote speakers spoke of creating opportunities for students to be creative, show their strengths, and use their ideas to help others. In creating these opportunities, there is often risk involved: the risk of doing something wrong, the risk of push-back from others, the risk of making mistakes, and the risk of not putting in the effort to make the change a positive one and therefore reverting to old ineffective ways.

Playing with littleBits kits during Aaron Maurer's
"Tink Tank 2" session made me feel like a curious kid again.
*Creating a new path to change is sometimes not easy. It takes stepping out of your comfort zone. It takes support from others in your "corner." It takes time, and it even takes a realization that your "yes" to new things often means a "no" to other things. But change isn't something I'm afraid of.

*The ITEC conference helped to confirm a couple of things that I had been thinking about for awhile. My ideas are still in the planning stage but with some hard work, help from others, and a new way of thinking about learning, I think I may just be able to bring about a path to new change. 

Monday's keynote speaker, Adam Bellow,
was an inspiration to teachers wanting to
go down a new path!

Thank you to everyone who made this 
experience one to remember!

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