ISTE 2016

I am so pumped to be headed to ISTE 2016 this year in Denver, Colorado. This will be the farthest west I’ve ever traveled and there is no conference more fun than ISTE. I have this huge list of people I want to reconnect with and an even longer list of people I want to meet face to face for the first time.

I’ve got a jam packed schedule at ISTE, but I’m hoping to squeeze a few fun things in there in addition to just “conference” things.

One of the first things I’m doing is heading out with my library rockstar peeps (Diana Rendina, Colleen Graves, Sherry Gick, and Elissa Malespina) to see SparkFun! And even better – we’re taking  a big red bus!

MackinVIA Love [Booth #3132]

What kind of conference would it be if I didn’t get the chance to share my love of MackinVIA? Stop by throughout the conference to hear from myself, Shannon Miller, Michelle Griffith, or Mesa Heise talk about the Transform Your Library Movement and how the FREE MackinVIA supports integrating digital tools into the curriculum.


Low-Tech, No-Tech Makerspace [Sunday 7:00-8:30 Lobby D, Table 32]


First up, I’m doing a poster session in Lobby D from 7:00-8:30 on Low-Tech, No-Tech Makerspaces. I was so amazed and honored to be listed in this School Library Journal article on “Hot Ticket Sessions” at ISTE 2016. At this session, you get lots of ideas for maker activities requiring little to no technology. If you’ve got trash (and somehow, schools have tons), you have maker resources.

ISTE Librarians Network Playground [Monday 8:00-11:30 Lobby D]

Next on the agenda is the ISTE Librarians Network Playground. I’m pumped to present on Google Cardboard because who doesn’t love VR? I’ll be bringing some traditional cardboard viewers and a few of the Viewmaster Viewers. I’ll also bring a few freebies I got from random giveaways. My session is at 9:30 and then I’ll be posting lots of love from ISTELIB

“Inclusive Library Spaces: Moving Beyond Accommodation” [Monday 2:30-3:30 Room 707]

Next is something I’m super excited for – my interactive lecture on Inclusive Library Spaces. I’m really hoping to stretch the minds of attendees and help librarians and educators rethink their spaces and resources. Too often we focus on the minimum or legal requirements when serving patrons, but we don’t do a lot things intentional to make the library more welcoming and inviting to all. This session is held in one of the flexible learning rooms and I’m really going to try and make this as participatory as possible! Come and share your ideas!

Creating a Makerspace in Middle Schools [Wednesday 11:45-12:45, Room 601 Table 2]

Yesterday, Chris Champion asked if I would co-present on starting a makerspace at the secondary level. Not too many details here, but we’re going to roll with it and undoubtedly, it will be epic.
I’m also super excited to see all of my friends at Buncee. If you haven’t checked out this tool, you need to find them in the exhibit hall. Granted, there are about 300 other companies I’m looking forward to connecting with, but Buncee is a little family of mine and I can’t wait to see them all again.
If you aren’t at ISTE, Craig Yen (and probably many others) will be Tweeting every single second on the #notatISTE16 on Twitter. There’s also a Google+ community.
Stay tuned for my reflections 🙂

Reflections from a First Timer

The fact that it’s been two weeks since ISTE is the first sign that my brain is still processing all of it. Now that I’m starting to come down from my ISTE high, I still can’t believe how much of an amazing experience that conference really was. My days typically went from 7:30am until midnight. Oh, and I’m 7 months pregnant! Needless to say, I was exhausted every single night. But that was probably a good thing. I tend to think too much when I’m laying in bed, which usually prevents me from falling asleep. With all of the amazing things I had seen and learned about each day, it was probably good that I was too tired to even think.
I heard amazing things about some of the sessions and I really enjoyed seeing schools implementation at the poster sessions. But those didn’t have much of an impact on me.
The most invigorating part of the entire conference was the exhibit hall. Thousands of products and education entrepreneurs sharing their story of how they want to make a positive impact on the lives of students…it was so empowering. My heart was racing. I met as many founders and CEO’s as possible and talked their ears off as much as they could allow. The best part was – they LOVED sharing their story with me. Many of them have been in business for years, but you would think they just launched their product last week from their enthusiasm. Keep in mind that these entrepreneurs have been standing for hours on end talking to 21,000 educators. And they still gave ME the time of day. [Shout outs to BunceeTynkerLearningBirdTackk, and TeachersFirst for letting me talk your ears off.] It spoke volumes about their company. Because even if I wasn’t sold that their product would be good for my students, I truly felt that some of them would change their product (even drastically) if they thought it would have a better impact on student success.   That. Is. Awesome.
I also got the chance to meet a ton of edu-rockstars. You know, the ones that have like 60,000 followers on Twitter? Travel the world speaking to educators? I’ll admit I was totally star struck and didn’t approach as many people as I wish. But for those that I did get the chance to interact with, I was amazed at how real they are. Even the ones that have been out of the classroom for years still spoke as if they had a classroom of students waiting for them.
This wouldn’t be a true reflection of my ISTE experience if I didn’t mention my time at the MackinVIA booth. I had the amazing opportunity to show educators how I use MackinVIA with my students during some “Expert Presentations” in the exhibit hall. What a nerve-wracking experience! I even had a microphone (so tempting to start singing show tunes).
Mackin is a prime example of the companies I was referencing above. They really want to the best product out there. And I don’t mean make the most money. They really just want to be the best option for kids. When I gave my presentations, I kept emphasizing to the audience about how you can use Mackin completely FREE and you don’t have to buy a thing from them. A part of me felt a little awkward because they are, after all, a business. When I was joking around with the owners afterward, they said how much they loved it and if they wanted a salesperson sharing their product, they would have done so. That. Is. Awesome.
I also participated in my first #TLNewsNight. We librarians are so funny 🙂
The playgrounds, karaoke, the students, the city. Everything was just so…amazing. Can’t wait to see you in Denver.