Reflections from ISTE 2015 by Mistene Clapp

ISTE 2015 was a month ago and looking at my notes, my brain is still full.  Looking back at the notes I made, I have so many ideas to put into place in my classroom it’s hard to start talking about it all, like the tip of the iceberg of my learning.

Learning from experienced and inspirational educators who I know from Twitter, like Pernille Ripp in her Ignite! session, was a highlight for me.

Learning from experienced and inspirational educators who I know from Twitter, like Pernille Ripp in her Ignite! session, was a highlight for me.

I have attended technology conferences before, but this one was amazing.  And massive.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of teachers who came from all over the world to work together to make life better for their students.  Everywhere I went rooms were packed, teachers were lined up and others were tweeting out information to the ISTE hashtag to keep others #notatiste up to date.  It was amazing to be apart of that community.

Sessions in the conference were carried out in many formats and I tried to hit up every single type.  I wanted to learn in all the styles to better teach my students.  I tried to maintain my focus on Flipped Learning, Digital Citizenship and Blogging.  I was blown away every single time and couldn’t stop wanting to attend more sessions.  I was definitely one of those newbies who put too much onto their plate, but I couldn’t help it.  I am still glad I did so much.

Mornings were filled with twitter conversations and meetups in coffee shops with other people who were attending in Philadelphia or attending virtually.  Days filled with sessions and speedy trips to the Reading Terminal Market for lunches, then back for more sessions.  I was lucky to spend a few of the evenings as well with new educators in my PLN and amazing companies in the educational field.

On the first day I was excited to attend the first Ignite!  It was inspiring in so many ways.  Educators from around the world have 5 minutes and 20 slides to spread their message.  I was inspired by many of the educators and the style itself.  Imagine if we pose a question to our own students, like “What do you believe in?” and gave them 5 minutes and 20 slides?  The educators though… they were amazing.  Karen Lirenman spoke about student voice and blogging and that students are never too young to learn with the world.  Pernille Ripp spoke about trying to be something you are not will make you nothing in the end and seeing everything in your classroom as if you were the student – would you want to be there? Rafranz Davis spoke of equality and Bill Bass the culture of creativity.

My favourite Ignite! ideas were Christy Fennewald’s Hackers and Doug Timm’s YouTube sessions.  Fennewald spoke about students as Hackers.  They are going to do it, why not have them do it for good?  Create a space where students who are comfortable with technology can help others – including teachers! –  learn to apply it or fix it.  Timm spoke about using YouTube to reach a broader parental audience than using Twitter.  I use Twitter and don’t have a lot of parents who follow, but YouTube might just be a different story.  Plus it will make my students producers rather than just consumers.

Keynote speakers were another highlight.  Soledad O’Brien has experienced so much in her line of work and Josh Stumpenhorst is an amazing teacher to learn from.  Jack Gallagher was brilliant talking about his experiences with his autistic son, I teach autistic students in my class and I am always wanting more information and insight into their world.

The only other lecture session I attended was with George Couros – who I had seen twice before – and he never puts on a bad presentation.  My big takeaways from him this time were that the biggest barrier for us is our own way of thinking and that change will always be an opportunity to do something amazing – something that was reflected more in my classroom this year than ever before.

And the other sessions?  They were put on for teachers by teachers.  I learned about Google tools, different types of AppSmashes and ways to create them, Flipped learning vs. Flipped classroom, Cloud based tools, Digital Citizenship programs, Student Voice and EdCamp start ups – all from teachers who use these ideas in their classrooms in ways that I too can use them in mine.

I was also really excited to meet up with teachers and companies that I work with and talk to.  I met a bunch of my PLN by walking around or running into each other in the expo hall and was excited that many of the companies I use in my class were at the expo.  I was really excited to meet the Kahoot! team and the Nearpod team – including the person who started the program!  I was tweeting with the creator of DoInk! but couldn’t seem to find her when I was there.  That’s how big it was!  Some of my PLN taught at expo booths, it was great to see them in action!

ISTE 2015 was amazing.  For someone who already incorporates technology into the classroom and is willing to take risks to try new educational tech programs in the class it was exactly what I needed.  I needed a conference that pushed me further into implementing tech ideas that I have already heard about in new and engaging ways.  I needed to learn how to push myself to the next level and this conference helped me to achieve that.  Thank you MindShare and Limestone District School Board for such an amazing opportunity to better myself and my teaching practices.


Mistene Clapp is an educator and EdTech promoter in the Limestone District School Board in Ontario. She is also the MindShare Learning’s Digital Classroom Video Challenge winner for Central Canada 2015.

Follow @MisteneC