NCTIES 15 was an awesome experience. Every session I attended was full of great information and ideas for application in the classroom and my school. I left the conference on Friday afternoon exhausted, but in the best way. My mind was buzzing with new ideas, so much so that I could barely sleep that night. That weekend, I immediately began figuring out ways to implement the things I saw and created while at NCTIES 15.
There were definitely trends that emerged as the conference kicked off. There were so many session offerings on making learning personal for students by including play, discovery and more creativity in learning experiences. I noticed many sessions on gaming, gamification of the classroom and how to incorporate coding into instruction. There were also makerspaces galore and tons of opportunities to play. One idea that is very important is that not only should we allow our students to play, but we, as educators, need to play too! I loved the gamification session I went to and found myself in my hotel room on Thursday night testing out many of the online game suggestions they made. During his keynote address, Kevin Honeycutt reminded all of us, “while at NCTIES, don’t test drive the device, test drive the IDEA!” When attending a conference, like NCTIES, it’s easy to focus on the cool technology tools, devices and resources because they’re cool. Unfortunately, sometimes this is all we focus on and we don’t move on to the application of these tools, devices and resources in our own buildings and classrooms. I made sure, while taking all my notes and bookmarking in Evernote, that I always had a brainstorming list of ideas for application running. Doing this has made it much easier for me begin planning and sharing with my colleagues.
Another trend that I saw while at the conference was fostering and building opportunities at school for kids to explore, discover and use their passions. Just doing the same thing everyday, even if it works or produces high test scores, isn’t enough. We have to take risks in our classrooms and schools to allow a safe space for students to figure out their passions and, more importantly, use those passions for more than just projects inside our four walls. I heard many presenters talking about how they’re doing this through Genius Hour, 20% Time and the makerspaces they’re building at their schools. No matter how these presenters are allowing students to explore their passions, they all expect these kids to use these passions for something more. So that becomes the key. You discover your passion and then, “So what!?!”
I have already used some of the resources I learned about, as I planned for Digital Learning Day with my staff. I will blog about these specific resources in the coming days. I also plan to record and post a #NCTIES15 highlight video on Quick Tech By TM, along with my partner in crime, Mollee Holloman.