Sunday, July 08, 2012

ISTE2012 IS OVER - NOW WHAT?

So, it has been over a week since I've returned from the best experience to kick start my summer: the ISTE12 conference.  Thanks to the generosity of the Avichai Foundation, I got to spend 4 glorious days in sunny San Diego, learning all about education in the 21st century.  In my previous blog post, I reflected on the "wow" effect this conference had on me.  In this blog post, after being back for over a week, I choose to focus on the take aways and lessons learned from this conference.  First and foremost, I think that the success of this conference is in the opportunity it gives educators to network and learn from each other.  In planning for the conference, I was so focused on choosing and re-choosing the sessions.  As great as those were, I think I learned the most from the people I had the privilege to interact with and have discussions with, and most importantly, will continue to remain in touch with. I got a chance to meet and learn from some gurus in the field, and I'm so grateful for that.  But, meeting educators from all over North America, connecting and learning from them, being able to continue these connections beyond the conference, is invaluable. Second, I was re-introduced to twitter. I had an account that I signed up for a long time ago. I was not really using that account much.  When at ISTE, you kind of have to tweet, just like the saying goes "when in Rome...". Everyone was blogging and tweeting. So did I.  Every session mentioned twitter (at some point), and I kind of got into it. The truth is that I really got back into it, and I haven't stopped ever since. I'm so impressed with the wealth of information that can be found on twitter,that I'm embarrassed that I haven't kept on top of my tweeting in the past while.  As a matter of fact, I've been following so many new hash tags and been so involved in new discussions, that it feels as if ISTE never ended.  And then there is what comes next, which is sharing.  I've taken so many notes and learned about so many apps, initiatives, ideas and projects, that I am bursting at the seams. I am trying different things, setting up initiatives for the fall, trying to bring forward different suggestions and idea to my team, wanting to implement some of the wonderful things I've learned about. That is what proves that ISTE was indeed worthwhile, if the takeaways from it can or would be implemented, if it was inspiring enough to be taken further.  I'm excited about the possibilities and am determined to take it further. Yes, it is kind of overwhelming... So many notes have been taken at the conference, so many ideas and apps have been introduced.  Trying to implement it all is simply impossible. But, I'm lucky to work with an amazing team of educators, who are used to me getting excited over new initiatives that have to with technology.  They are "on board" with me, willing to try it out and implement it with my support. What will be implemented at Associated Hebrew Schools this fall? Well, we intend to experiment with QR codes. This was a big take away for me.  I saw some great examples of using those in educational settings, and the away that the codes make teaching come to life and that is certainly one thing that we will implement in the fall. Also, our school has purchased several iPads this summer that will be deployed in September. Many of the sessions I took gave me tips, tricks and ideas of how to deploy and use those iPads successfully, not to mention a huge list of apps I would like to explore. A very exciting thing to look forward to. A third initiative that has been brewing in me since coming back from ISTE has to do with student blogging. I've attended several sessions outlining the success of allowing students to blog, the way different educators have implemented student blogging in their classroom. I've even learned about the flat classroom project where blogging connected children from across the globe. I intend to pursue this with my colleagues and take it further into the implementation stage.  Lastly, I would like to further my colleagues and my learning through our PLCs (I believe that it is PLCs in Canada and PLN in the US).  Sharing knowledge and ideas, learning and reflection can all be done through these wonderful networks and communities. Whether in school, on line, or otherwise, I look forward to sharing and continuing my learning and experimentation with technology in the classroom to promote student engagement and success. Once again, thanks Avichai for all that you've done to get me to ISTE. Todda Rabba! Wishing everyone a great summer,  Avital Aharon Associated Hebrew Schools Toronto, Canada

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