ISTE2014 – been and gone

A quiet time at blogger’s cafe

Just a quick post about my impressions of #ISTE2014. I will write separate posts about apps/tools to use in your classroom and one about other people to follow either via their blogs or Twitter.

Firstly, transportation in Atlanta was fantastic – hop on the MARTA (train) from the airport and get off at N4 about 50 metres from the hotel I stayed in. Many other participants there including my friend Tracy Watanabe.

The heat – every day was in the late 80F – and high humidity with it. Many of you know I hate the heat so was glad of the air conditioning in the GWCC – Georgia World Congress Centre, where the conference took place.

One of the ISTE graphic designers created an infographic about ISTE by the numbers – check it out here.

I can certainly attest to the crowds. Going from each level of the centre were three escalators – depending on traffic, one up, two down. The bloggers cafe where I sat quite often was down two floors and near the entrance to the expo, so a lot of foot traffic passing by. On the Sunday when the expo opened, it was very stuffy down that level so I found the international lounge instead.

ISTE had a great app to download for your mobile device and had a networking game you could join. You had to find key words around the conference centre, take part in sessions where a secret code would be given at the end, send out tweets from the app, send out instagram photos from the app and most importantly, swap secret codes with other participants.  I was in the top 100 at one stage but then the face to face connecting became more important than swapping codes to me.

Someone very quickly put together a Google document that was a shared document for anyone to add to. This is real collaboration and here is the link to notes people have shared about the different sessions they went to over the 4 days of the conference. Looking at that document you will see Evernote is a favourite way of taking notes easily at a conference.

Lots of poster sessions – many led by students – some from Mexican schools. I took lots of photos of these sessions and scanned lots of QR codes to look at their websites etc once I get home. Each poster session was a theme – Saturday night was global connections and I presented with Tracy Watanabe from Phoenix, Arizona on the student blogging challenge. I will probably write a separate post just on the poster sessions.

Even if you were #notatiste14 you could take part. Sue Waters from Edublogs was curating a flipboard magazine including links from the #ISTE2014 twitter stream. Nearly 900 articles as of publishing this post. At one stage Paula Naugle @plnaugle ran a google hangout with Will Chamberlain – founder of #comments4kids and I suggested bringing in Sue Waters as well – hangout was to talk about blogging of course.

But the most important takeaway from ISTE has been it is all about the students – how can we make them independent and life long learners? There were lots of sessions about the tools and apps but also many about how to use technology in your classroom to improve the learning of your students.

Here is the link to the next ISTE conference in 2015 to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 28 – July 1. Maybe you would like to attend and add it into your holidays.

More specific posts coming soon.


On holidays + ISTE2014

As many of you may have realised, I have been on holidays over the last three weeks. I have been touring Ireland doing some family history research on my great great grandmother who came out to Tasmania as a convict. But I have also been a tourist with Davo, the Tasmanian Devil soft toy who has his own blog.

istelogoBut the next week of my holiday is taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. It is the 2014 ISTE conference – International Society for Technology in Education.  This will be the 3rd conference I have attended and at each I have presented a poster session about the student blogging challenge which I began in 2008 and run every March and September for 10 weeks.

With about 15000 people attending, there are many sessions to take part in as well as many exhibits to look at. I will be attending a lot of blogging sessions. Sue Waters from Edublogs, who wont be at ISTE, has put together a Google document with information from the various sessions I will be attending and I will be adding to her document as will other keen bloggers. Here is a link if you want to check out some of the fabulous resources from other teachers blogging around the world.

The conference has its own twitter hashtag. You don’t need to be a member of Twitter to follow the hashtag – just google search for #ISTE2014 and check out the links people will be adding with images as well as documents, blogs etc they have found interesting.

I have started learning how to scan and save QR codes, so hopefully many sessions will include these to make it easier for the participants to find information. Of course I will be visiting the big expo and putting in my raffle tickets to try and win prizes and to collect any freebies going. I will also be writing a post every couple of days and putting it on both this blog and our new one for all our blogs next year. So by the end of June, and the ISTE conference, I think I will have earned my relaxing holiday in Ireland.

2014, here we come!

Welcome Piggies
Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight

Welcome back to a new year of blogging. First are the refresher courses being held in Devonport, Launceston and Hobart this week. For those of you who couldn’t attend due to family commitments or other holiday events, here are some of the links used to help you with your blogging this year.

Great blogs to check out

  • How are these Tassie teachers using their blogs?
  • Is it mainly to communicate with parents?
  • Is it for showcasing student work?
  • Are students contributing posts?
  • Have students learnt about image attribution?
  • Have students been taught about quality commenting?
  • How do parents use the blog?

Ms A at Miandetta, Grade 3/4 at Longford, Grade 4/5 at Bicheno, Grade 4/5 at Montagu Bay, Grade 6 at Rosetta, Grade 4 at Riverside, Grade 3/4 in Derwent Valley, Grade 3/4 at Punchbowl, Grade 5 at Rosetta

How are you going to use your blog this year?

Add your ideas to this Google document.

Leave a comment on this post

outlining your vision for blogging in your classroom this year. Remember to use quality comments.

Here is a video by Linda Yollis’ students talking about quality comments. This would be suitable to show your students and then discuss. Maybe put the video in a post and have students leave comments.

Here is an interview of Linda Yollis talking about blogging and commenting. Great for teachers to watch.

Adding features to your blog

All students whether Kindergarten or grade 10 all enjoy looking at the sidebars of class blogs, especially if they are interactive. But noisy sidebars can distract from the value of the blog, so think carefully about which widgets are on the sidebar and which you embed in a post or page.

What widgets are recommended by other teachers?

Check out these posts by Sue Waters from Edublogs – pinterest board of widgets, top widgets from Ronnie Burt at Edublogs, working with widgets including class blogs to visit, adding widgets and questions you might have, demo widget blog,

What tools allow students to be creative on blogs?

Maybe you want your students writing stories, creating comics, reading a book report aloud. These can all be showcased on your class blog by using many different tools that have embed code included or where you take a screenshot and save as an image.

Check out these posts of web 2.0 tools to use on blogs

 Connecting globally

You have now been blogging for at least a year and you want to start connecting globally. How do you do it?

  • Join the student blogging challenge which starts in March and September each year – run by Miss W – weekly ideas for posts – lists of other classes around the world grouped according to grade level
  • Join quadblogging – four classes working together – need to make sure each teacher understands what is happening though – maybe start by connecting with other classes in Tasmania
  • Check out the global classroom wikispace – lots of projects on right sidebar created by teachers around the world – some are one off activities, others involve reading a book together, some include toys sent to classrooms
  • Send posts to Mrs Yollis’ 365 project – include image of something you have taken and write a post to go with it – read instructions on the post link
  • Join Miss W.’s Australia – our country project and write posts about Tasmania and Australia in general
  • Take part in the 100 word challenge – great for creative writing
  • Check out the projects by Jen website – great creative ideas for classes
  • Create a twitter class account and tweet out about what is happening in class or join other teachers with a twitter project, here are a couple of examples – tweeting about the weather,  tweeting about vocabulary

Your class has access to many computers, tablets or ipads each day

Why not create student personal blogs? They can include work you set in school, but also allow them to write about their interests outside of school. Here are some examples of student blogs started last year.

Madison, Annabel, Jacob, Mackenzie, Gabrielle, Caitlin

Miss W. will be running online sessions for student blogging every Wednesday and Friday afternoon beginning in March – students can drop in with questions. Check out the student bloggers blog for the link to the online classroom.

October is Connected Educator Month

Are you a connected educator?

Do you blog?

Do you use twitter?

Do you collaborate with other teachers at your own school and globally?

Do you take part in online conferences for PD?

Even though Connected Educator Month is a USA activity, there are many teachers from other countries also taking part. There is a starter kit you can download as a PDF from this site. For every day of the month of October, there are suggested activities to help you become more connected as an educator. You can find this on the PDF.

There are multiple themes running through the month of activities and you can also take part at a school or district level.

To find out more and take part, just sign up and then start connecting. There are badges you can earn to add to your own website or blog.

Day 1 is a bit of reading and finding out about being a connected learner. 

I spent most of my teaching life working in my own classroom, coming out for recess and lunch, spending time at staff meetings that really didn’t help a lot in the classroom or that I could have read about at home. It wasn’t until I started blogging and using the internet more that I realised I needed to become a connected learner so I could help my students become connected in their global world. I was on Twitter for nearly 6 months before I realised the value of making connections to other teachers overseas and on the mainland. I began creating documents that I could share with other teachers with similar interests, storing them in the cloud and sharing with others. I save most of my photos in Flickr so others can use the photos as well as they are licensed as creative commons. I take part in online conferences as both a participant, a moderator and also as a presenter. These allow me to develop the skills I need to help my students and other teachers to connect in our modern world.

Day 2 is looking at Web 2.0

When I first began using the internet more I was a consumer. I read and gathered information, created worksheets for students to find more information or to work as a team in a webquest. Students then typed out their responses,  printed them and gave them to me or they wrote the answers in their books. We were consumers and users of the internet. This was known as Web 1.0

But Web 2.0 has students as creators as well as consumers. Students are out there creating apps, creating games, films, videos, websites, blogs, sending out tweets, sharing documents across countries, uploading and downloading, using other Web 2.0 tools to embed on their blogs and ePortfolios. Often many students are way ahead of their teachers who often fear the unknown. Or they worry about no longer being in control of the classroom. This is where becoming connected as a learner, means you can allow the student to be the teacher.

How are you and the other staff at your school connected or do you still do most of your teaching in your own room with the door closed?

Making connections

Blogging and recording - all at onceNow that your class has been blogging for a few months and your students know how to write quality comments, maybe you want to start making connections overseas. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take part in the student and class blogging challenge.

I run this twice a year and the next one starts on 8th September. It lasts for ten weeks and every Sunday I publish a new challenge. You can do the activities in the challenge or you can just visit other blogs and leave comments.

You can register your class blog here and if your students have their own blogs, students can register here. Maybe there are some teachers at your school who might be interested in helping to mentor some students. Visit student blogs 3 times over ten weeks and leave some comments. Mentors register here.

In the March challenge, there were about 200 classes and 1200 students from 18 countries taking part.

Sue Waters, from Edublogs, has put together a Flipboard magazine about the challenge and you might want to check that out. It contains lots of posts written by students and classes. We will also have a flipboard magazine for the September challenge and both will be linked on the sidebar of the challenge blog.

Here is a link to the classes already registered and also one for the students who have their own blogs registered.

Maybe your students enjoy being scientists. I found this project called “Explore the Seafloor” where students look at images of the seafloor and have to pinpoint kelp and sea urchins. The project is only on during August, so get in there and be real life scientists.

Photo Credit: Jacob Bøtter via Compfight

Global activities

Want to connect with other classes around the world? Perhaps you could try:

The Wonderment – journeys into wonder from students

Students from Azusa Pacific University (many now teachers) created these projects:

Do Now respond to current issues through blogs and Twitter – for high school students

These students presented many times in the poster section – most activities related to science

Join ePals a global community where learners connect.

 Flat Stanley also has apps now. Join him on one of his many journeys around the world.

Projects by Jen – lots of choices of activities from K-6 – I actually met Jen while at ISTE 2013.

Journey north looks at wildlife migration and seasonal changes around the world

Same Day in March – get organized to join this project next year but check it out from 2013

Follow foraging penguins especially in the Antarctic seas with Penguin Science.

Monster exchange is a writing project around the world – get ready for September start in 2013

Part of my holiday

Happenings at ISTEAs most of you know I have been in San Antonio this last week at the International Society for Technology in Education 2013 conference. I presented a poster session on Sunday evening, along with two other blogging teachers and two Edublogs employees, about the student blogging challenge which I run every March and September. Over 200 people visited our booth to talk to us, but we had a very loud Mexican band also playing in the mezzanine area, so it was very hard to be heard unless we were speaking one to one with people. We also had TimTams and Caramello Koalas for the people to eat and a business card for them to take away.

But it was also a chance for me to meet face to face with people I only know from twitter or blogging. I  met lots of new people who I added to my twitter lists but the whole conference was always noisy with attendees chatting together in the lounges. There was over 15,000  teachers and administrators from all around the world at the conference.

I also got the chance to attend lots of sessions on hundreds of topics relating to computers in schools. My friends and I would often go to different session then share each others notes – collaboration of a kind. I will be writing a couple more posts on these especially great websites mentioned in talks and apps for the ipad that were also recommended.

At these big conferences there are also lots of sponsors and companies which exhibit their goods and try to convince you to use their product. It took me a day and a half to walk through all these booths, leave raffle ticket draws at some of them, attend sessions run by the companies and pick up brochures and business cards. Once I have checked out the websites of these companies I will also be writing a post about these.

So the conference has now finished and the final keynote speaker Adam Bellow, had these words of wisdom to those in the audience:

Learning and doing something awesome without sharing is selfish.

It’s not about the technology, it’s about us and the connections that we make.

Acknowledge your challenges, and then see them as opportunities.

If you don’t think you can, you’re not willing to.

Explore. Share. Contribute.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: David Warlick via Compfight

New term arrives earlier this year

Oh no, here come the BloggersHere in Tasmania we are not used to having term two start in May – this is the first time we have had four terms per year instead of three.

During the recent holidays I ran refresher sessions for teachers in the north and south of the state.

Check out some of the work by our newer bloggers as well as a couple who have started again since last year.

  • The blog at Westbury is run by a group of grade 6 girls with initials of FEAST.
  • After seeing the blog from Miss D&D from Longford, Mr Guy at Evandale decided to get his blog going again and asked the other grade 3/4 teacher at his school to join him. What a great start to their blogs this term!
  • The class of 4LB have been getting lots of comments for their posts – many from overseas as can be seen on their clustrmap.
  • I am impressed with the Monday Inspiration posts from Mrs Smith and Clark’s class. Mrs Smith is only there one day a week. What a great way to start the day with inspiration from the students.
  • Students are starting to write the posts on the blog in Mrs Thomsett’s class. Can you leave a comment on this post from Sophie?
  • The students in Mrs Fall’s grade 2 have just started leaving comments on their blog.
  • The students from Mrs Wells’s class have been doing a lot of reading and learning about early Australian History.

I will be leaving Tasmania on 23 May and heading to America for five weeks. I will be visiting Washington DC to check out the Smithsonian Museum and the Holocaust Museum. Then I will be driving around the southern states for three weeks to finish at San Antonio for a conference on technology in education. I will be presenting a poster session about the student blogging challenge which I run twice a year.

If you want help, I will still only be an email away or if the time zones allow maybe even a skype call.
Photo Credit: Brett L. via Compfight

Giving a helping hand

Has your class or school thought of giving a helping hand to Dunalley Primary School which burnt down during the January bushfires this year?

Have a look at this video put together by Triabunna District High School. Maybe your class could sponsor some of the students on their exciting bike ride from Triabunna to Dunalley.

Check out more about the Bunna Bash at their education department website.

Mrs Westthorp has a grade 4/5 at Dunalley and they have their own class blog started this year. Visit them and also their school facebook page run by parents I think.

Do you think all schools should have a sponsored child or some form of community volunteering as part of their classroom programs?

Making global connections

earth_from_space.jpg - Earth from Space

An important part of blogging is making global connections. But this can be difficult to do, if you don’t know any other teachers or students around the world, only those in your own state or school. Here are a few guides that might help you on this task.

Students: If you have your own student blog, join the next student blogging challenge which begins in September. Find out how to register your blog at this link, then each week starting 9th September, visit the blog to get the activities to try over the next week. Once you have registered, start visiting the other students who are also in the challenge. You might like to add some of these student blogs to your blogroll, especially if you visit that student often.

Classes: You can also join the student blogging challenge as a class. Find out how to register at this link, then start connecting with other classes that are similar in age to you.


  • Have you joined Twitter yet? This allows me to have lots of resources at my fingertips as well as lots of professional development which costs the school nothing and only my time for me.
  • Check out the hashtag #globalclassroom in a search engine. Lots of links to projects happening around the world.
  • Visit the globalclassroom blog to find out about projects on a global scale. These educators also have a wiki with lots of projects mentioned.
  • Want to connect with blogging?  Then look at quadblogging or blogdipping.
  • Do you have a Skype account at your school? Perhaps take part in a mystery skype call.
  • Join the iEarn projects where students have a real voice and can make a difference in the world.

But even if you don’t do any of the above mentioned things, by writing interesting blog posts,  visiting other blogs and leaving high quality comments you will start making connections.

  • Students at Oatlands grade 8 have been asked to join with another grade 8 in Iowa, USA.
  • Mr Weir 3/4 has been asked to work with another grade 3 class in Pennsylvania, USA.
  • Mr Price 3/4 has been asked to join with a class in Stittsville, Canada.

Image source: (NASA-GSFC), NASA. earth_from_space.jpg. 11.07.2002. Pics4Learning.