Thursday, July 3, 2014

ISTE 2014: Thank-You for Valuing Teachers!

I am a blogger that blogs when I am excited about things.  After 5 days in Atlanta for ISTE 2014, my head is full of blogs that I can’t wait to write. However, I also have 2 young ones that haven’t seen their mom in a while.

Though I would love to spend all day composing my thoughts while they are fresh, the reality is, I need to transform from the EdTech Cheerleader to Mom. Ideally, I am going to try and take a few moments out of each day to work on my blog posts, but I also know the holiday weekend is here, which also means family time and fun! So here is my first ISTE 2014 blog post with hopefully more to follow.

One of the greatest things about ISTE is meeting the founders of the apps and digital tools we use in the classroom. When I meet them, I can’t wait to talk to them and let them know how they have impacted my classroom. They are like celebrities to me, as I am so impressed with their innovation, risk-taking, and impact on education. I would like to take this time to highlight a few of them that impacted my ISTE 2014 experience.

Write About This:

One of my great EdTech friends that I met years ago at EdCamp Detroit is the creator of Write About This and Tell About This, Brad Wilson.  If you haven’t checked it out, it is one of my favorite tools to use in my third grade classroom.  Not only can children respond to tons of high quality prompts, but students and teachers can also create their own prompts.  This has been great to use when writing reflections, taking notes during science experiments, and responding to our reading. It is EASY to use and my kids love it!

2 of my students wanted my iPad while we were waiting to be called into the Michigan State Board of Education meeting.  Instead of playing a game, they chose to use Write About This! 


Another Michigan connection, as he graduated from MSU, is Brett Kopf , co-founder of Remind (formerly Remind 101).  I had the wonderful opportunity to meet him at my first ISTE, which was in 2012 in San Diego. After that I got to know both Brett and his product manager, Christine Garland very well while visiting conferences! They were, and continue to be, so great at grassroots marketing, and in of the best I have witnessed!  Smiles can be found on their faces wherever they are, and I am so proud of their growth as a company.  They have expanded their team, and I have enjoyed getting to know the wonderful staff members they have added.  This ISTE I was able to get to know Clara Galan better over a coffee meet-up with others, which was a treat! If you see the Remind team out and about, definitely take the time to say hi.  They are a welcoming crew and truly have great minds and caring hearts!


In March I came across Plickers, and I was soooo excited about it, I jumped on my computer to write a post about it right after school! (Click here to read it and learn about Plickers.) In Atlanta, I saw some people walking on the streets with Plicker shirts, and I was going to approach them, but I was also running late, so I decided to wait.  After the EdTech Karaoke party, I ran into a young man with the shirt on.  When I asked him, “Are you the Plickers guy?” He said, "Yes," and I squealed with delight, as I love, love, love the tool and the quality technology that it includes.   In short, you can print off ½ sheet QR codes that are numbered for your students.  Each side of the code as an A, B, C, or D. When you ask a question, students make sure the side that is the answer they want points up. Using the camera on your device, you can scan the class and the results will be recorded and even graphed instantly...while you are still viewing your kids through the screen!  It is AWESOME! Plickers only has to be on 1 device, so if you are a teacher with no wifi, but have a smartphone or a teacher that lacks a 1-to-1 environment...this is the tool for you!

I was so excited when I first used it, I ran and got my wonderful co-worker, Jennifer Bonkowski, to have her demo it!  

Nolan Amy is the founder of Plickers, and he was just as excited to meet me...something I had not encountered before.  Then I was able to meet Jenn Kim, another team member of Plickers. They were awesome!  I used Plickers in my Digital Tools for Formative Assessment session at EdCamp Detroit, and Plickers was a hit.  I am a true fan, and I can’t wait to see them grow in the educational world in the near future! The icing on the cake was we figured out that we were in the same hotel...and right next door to each other!  ISTE Neighbors! What are the odds?


It was surprising to me that founders of apps and websites are equally excited to meet teachers.  In fact, sometimes even shy and intimidated to approach.  That is crazy to me, as I would think it would be the other way around.  Hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe prior to the closing keynote, Nitesh Goel, the founder of Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) introduced himself. Again, when I found out he was the creator of Padlet, I was honored to be in the presence of such an amazing app developer.  Not only that, but I had no clue he created Wallwisher as a college project!  Wow! What an impact he was able to make at such a young age! (I found this interview which tells his story.) I shared the ways Padlet has been used in my class...and even during Vacation Bible School at my church! He was so excited to meet me, which again, was crazy! I am not a teacher that has thousands and thousands of followers on Twitter.  Having the last name of Bond, as you can imagine, is a fun conversational piece. On my daughter's birth announcement DVD, I even joked that she liked her bottles "Shaken not stirred." However, I had never really taken a Bond photo until I met Nitesh.

Meeting the people behind the digital awesomeness of these companies is one of the things I love about educational technology.  Their stories are amazing, their impact in education is inspirational, and they also have something in common...modesty.  Though they may not be giants in the educational world, they have made a great impact in my life, and they are well on their way to growing by leaps and bounds.

In April of 2010, I was an early adopter of a digital learning platform that changed the culture of my classroom.  I shared my love for it at conferences all over, including my very first ISTE!  4 years later, I am still one of their biggest fans!  Edmodo had my heart when they were just a toddler in this EdTech world, and through the years they have grown into a huge company impacting millions of educators and students around the world.  Despite their growth, I have remained connected and truly feel part of the Edmodo family.  I feel valued and appreciated...something that I don’t always feel in my normal life as a teacher in this educational world.

Edmodo Cheer at my first ISTE! Notice the handmade bow complete with puffy painted icons! 

So thank-you Write About This, Remind, Plickers, Padlet, and Edmodo...thank-you for making me feel like I matter!  It means a lot! For those of you who have opportunities to meet the faces behind EdTech tools...go for it!  They can be a wonderful member of your PLN!

No comments:

Post a Comment