ICE Conference Update

Here's what I learned at the 2016 ICE Conference

What I Learned and Why I Go

To me, the two best parts of attending conferences are connecting with other educators and learning new stuff. The connections are important and can lead to deeper conversations. It was awesome catching up with people I haven't seen in a while. However, if you want to sleep, there's not enough time to chat with everyone you want. I had a great dinner Thursday night was awesome people and throughout each day, had a chance here and there to talk to some friends.

When I'm attending conferences, I look for things I can use myself and for things that could be useful to my colleagues. While I did get some great ideas, I do need to do a lot more exploring to find out what's great, good, and just okay. Below is a recap of some of the sessions I attended, tips and tricks I learned, and ideas I want to explore further.

My Presentation

I presented a general breakout session on Thursday titled "Breaking Down the Walls of Your Classroom and School Library." The session was scheduled for the last time slot of the day, following my friend and well-known speaker Steve Dembo. His sessions are always packed and I joked to myself that everyone would leave after his presentation and I'd be presenting to an empty room. The session went very well and had good attendance. I didn't take a headcount, but there were at least 40-50 people in the room, which was great. I received some nice feedback after the session.

You can few the slides below, but in a nutshell, I shared 5 steps to a successful collaborative project. The library space is changing and should not be seen as it's own learning space. Classroom teachers and library media specialists can work together to create great projects.

Here are the five steps:

  1. FIND the right person to collaborate with first. This may be the most open minded teacher in the building, the teacher you have a great relationship with, or the person with the most technology in their room. You probably already know who this person is. This needs to be the person who will say “YES” when you come to them and say, “I have an idea.”
  2. PLAN what you’re going to do. This seems obvious, but make sure everyone knows what they are going to do and when. What will happen in the classroom during the project and what will happen in the library. Make sure to include all stakeholders, including any special education teachers. Think about the schedule and anything that could impact the plan. Is there an assembly or day off that changes the schedule? Keep those things in mind. Make sure you connect regularly and adjust the plan as needed.
  3. DO the project. It seems simple, but you have to stick to your plan. Don’t let a roadblock stop the project. One great thing about teaching is the idea that if something doesn’t go as planned, you can make adjustments and keep going. Don’t let the project get shoved to the back burner.
  4. SHARE what you’re doing. Throughout the process, let others know about what’s going on. Keep parents informed, other teachers, and the world. Blog about it, post pictures and video clips to social media, and spread the word any way possible. You’ll get great feedback and probably tips and suggestions along the way. Don’t keep what you’re doing within the walls of your school building.
  5. REFLECT on the project. Meet with everyone involved and discuss what went well and what needs to be adjusted. How will you make it better next time? This is very important and while I do believe teachers reflect on their practice, put these reflections in writing.

Library Renovation

This presentation shared how a K-8 library went through a million dollar renovation, over the course of 10 weeks, to transform their traditional library into a completely new space. They called their new space the Innovation Collaboration Exploration Lab, or ICE Lab. It was rather interesting to see how things changed, both the physical space and the mindset of the staff. Images of their transformed space begin on slide 30. I encourage you to take a look.

Golden Treasures of Google

This is a session I didn't attend because it was at the same time as another session I attended, but after browsing through the slides the presenter shared, I need to explore more. I've already started exploring Google Cardboard and Virtual Reality, which was the first thing mentioned. I think there's a lot of potential for students exploring places they can't physically visit. I'd also like to start using Google Maps a lot more. Google Lit Trips and Tour Builder are on my list of other things to look into more.

Kasey Bell was a spotlight speaker and presented several Google sessions. A couple are listed below.

More Google Stuff

There are always sessions at conferences these days sharing the best Google Apps and Extensions and well as search tips and Chrome information. The slideshow below shares some of this.

A few things that stood out to me:

Turn Out the Lights Chrome extension - this extension makes everyone on a YouTube page black but the video. You won't see any ads or other videos. It's great for removing the distractions for students.

How to force users to make their own copy of a Google Doc you share with them.

Omnibox Search tips - using the search/URL bar in Chrome as a calculator, timer, currency translater and more.

Centers 2.0

Centers are still a very important part of elementary classrooms, especially those in the primary grades. One of the sessions I attended was conducted by several teachers sharing what they do with their centers. They share a variety of centers, their purpose, and how they implemented the technology. One of the best parts of their presentation was the description of their center and options for technology integration. They don't share just one app or site, they show several options. Take a look through the deck for some great ideas.

Wonder Buddies

Wonder Buddies was a quick little session where teachers shared with they are doing with the buddy classrooms. In this case, it was 1st graders and 5th graders. Moving on from the typical reading buddies, the students worked together to find solutions to things they wondered about. They left the topics fairly wide open. They often shared literature that was related to character wondering things, creating things, or solving problems. I have the book list and will be adding those books to our collection.

They did share a Google Doc with their resources. Click here to see it.

A Whole Bunch of Misc. Sites and Tools

The last session I attended on Friday was presented by my friend Dave Tchozewski, a tech director in Michigan. He spent the 45 minute session going through a ton of tools. Almost all of the did not require the user to create an account. A few of my favorites... - we use this for Ixonia News

Google Story Builder

Answer Garden - allows instant feedback from students - Awesome random name picker

The link below will take you to Dave's site containing a huge list of resources.