Well, in less than four weeks time, I’ll be traveling via Auckland on a 16 700 km journey to San Antonio, Texas. I will be presenting on my students’ learning adventures with Scratch game design and FIRST LEGO League robotics at the International Society for Technology Education Conference. Following ISTE, I’ll be embarking on my most ambitious journey to date, visiting Dallas / Fort Worth, Chicago, Denver, Glenwood Springs, Sacramento, and San Francisco over the course of four weeks.
ISTE15 in Philadelphia, where I took home an ISTE Emerging Leader Award, feels like yesterday. The memories of the people I met, the places I went, and the meetups with locals in Philadelphia, Virginia and NYC are very dear to me. If you plan to be at the conference. or live in/near the cities I’ll be exploring, please let me know. I’m always happy to catch up with Twitter folk, especially if you share my love of coffee, conversation, and/or photography. Especially coffee 🙂
Are you interested in LEGO Mindstorms robotics, engineering, and computational thinking? Come along and meet three robotics coaches from Australia and the United States, and learn how you could empower your students’ STEM learning through the international FIRST LEGO League robotics competition (http://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/fll)
Find out how to extend coding and computer science lessons beyond code.org by using Scratch to empower students to collaborate, problem solve, and share their learning through the creation of animated stories and computer games.
Scratch Game Design in Chicago, IL
I will be repeating my ISTE Scratch Game Design workshop in Chicago. If you live in the area, please come along to say hello! All welcome 🙂
Thursday, July 6, 10am – 12pm
Archdiocese of Chicago
Quigley Center, 835 N Rush St.
After a journey of some 30 hours and over 18000km (11,603 miles), I arrived in the United States for my first ever ISTE conference. It proved to be an incredibly emotional, sometimes overwhelming week. Despite the very best advice I received in the lead up to the event, I soon discovered nothing can quite prepare you for a conference with 20 000 plus attendees, over 1000 vendors, and nearly a 1000 workshops and presentations.
In trying to tell the story of my ISTE2015 journey, I’m going to focus on some key themes and experiences which stood out for me.
The power of the Unconference
Arriving in Philadelphia on Saturday morning with my good friend @lparisi, the weather turned nasty – and very wet. Forced to scrap my planned photo walk and city orientation, I immersed myself in the Hack Ed Unconference. Joining halfway though the day, I started meeting people I knew online, some of whom I’d been following for years; and joined group conversations about topics which interested me. I was less thrilled with the after party (I am not your typical party person), but meeting @lynnrathburn and her colleagues there made it all worthwhile.
Global Connections and Collaboration
Judging by the responses to our poster sessions, and the Twitter feed for several big Ignite presentations, connecting and collaborating globally was of interest to many attendees. I thoroughly enjoyed the Global Educators Brunch, hosted by @globaledcon and @VIFLearn; and the Global Education Day event. The brunch was made all the more special as it was the first time nearly all the #globalclassroom project leaders and organisers, from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and all around the United States, were in the same room. Most of us were meeting for the first time after over four years of working online.
The Global Education Day was interesting, but its most important aspect was the people in the room. To sit alongside and converse with global educators who have inspired, guided, and helped make me the person I am today was an amazing, and very emotional experience.
Coding and Makerspaces
I must admit this is a particularly big interest of mine at the moment, as I am trying to advise my school on the future direction of our ICT program. I am quite keen to delve into robotics and Makerspaces, and I loved the chance to explore the Maker and Coding playground events at ISTE. I played with Cubelets, shared my experiences with the MakeyMakey, searched for information on LittleBits, Squishy Circuits, and collected as much information as possible about 3D printing. I have plenty of pics, and some big ideas which I’ll be taking back to school.
The opportunity to share my story & expertise in global education and iPad integration
When I applied to present at ISTE last year, I was well aware that the organisers accept less than half of all applications. I submitted proposals for the Global Classroom Project Poster session, an iPad Creative Challenge Workshop, and joined another poster session focussed on global blogging and the Student Blogging Challenge. To my surprise, I was accepted for all three – which was unusual to say the least!
The two poster sessions were incredible learning experiences, and I thoroughly enjoyed the informal, conversation based format – even though two hours proved utterly exhausting (and a little overwhelming). My workshop was a challenging experience. With just five registrations, four people turned up on the night. One left shortly after it started (I have no idea why), and one gentleman was deaf! Among the challenges was trying to run a group collaborative session with just four people, and working with American Sign Language interpreters to ensure my deaf colleague found the session valuable. I received positive informal feedback in the session, but I’ll admit it was probably the most challenging presentation I’ve ever given.
Thank you for the memories!
Perhaps the greatest, and most emotional element of this conference was meeting Twitter friends, new and old, from all over the world. I lost count of how many hugs I received, and I won’t get started on the selfies :P. I had my first, second, and … who knows how many selfies at ISTE!
While sadly not all of my #globalclassroom PLN could attend ISTE, I was deeply indebted to those who made the trek, especially those two dear friends who drove 25 hours (each way) to come and see me. I hope I was able to make that incredible roadtrip worthwhile for you.
Dear @LParisi, thank you for picking me up at the airport in NYC, and the lift to Philadelphia. Your kindness, hospitality, and relative calm in the NYC traffic were deeply appreciated. I still maintain you have a very beautiful home – all protestations to the contrary :). (Please pass on my regards to your husband – it was a pleasant surprise to find a fellow photographer after a 30 hour trip to the USA. )
To @MrsSchmidtB4 and family, thank you for your warm hospitality. I still can’t quite believe that I was helping a “local” navigate Philadelphia, but I couldn’t have managed to see the city without your help :).
To everyone I met, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made this conference one I will remember for many, many years to come.
It is hard to believe that a wonderful year has come to an end. My thinking, pedagogy, and attitude towards teaching has continued to evolve, and I suspect the full implications of the events and connections of 2013 will only become apparent in the years to come.
Its time to reflect on the defining moments of 2013, a year of exploration, learning, and new opportunities … a year where I “spread my wings”.
Five Years “On the Road”
Much to the horror and disbelief of some, I’m a relief / casual teacher by choice … It has taken me nearly 5 years to feel like I’m starting to master this very challenging role, yet I’ve already outlasted many of my graduate teacher colleagues. I’ve learnt my lessons through the “school of hard knocks” (literally and physically), and I’m a better teacher, and a better person for it.
I’m so much more than “just a relief teacher” … I’m a presenter, writer, learner, and emerging global education leader … with the true privilege of growing together with an amazing group of online educators around the world.
Proving a Point (#WLPSict)
While I only worked in the #WLPSict role for a few weeks, the experience enabled me to prove to myself (my harshest critic) that I had what it took to be a competent, innovative ICT Integration teacher.
It was only a taste of a role I’d like to explore further, but it gave me the freedom to experiment and learn in a supportive collegial environment. Despite never returning (a painful story), this was a fantastic learning opportunity, one which I look forward to repeating elsewhere in future.
Becoming a Presenter & Keynote Speaker
Mrs Warner, my high school English teacher, once remarked that teaching was an unusual choice of profession for someone with terrible public speaking skills, but I suspect she’d be very proud of me now.
Building on my work with The Global Classroom Project, I contributed my thoughts, stories, and expertise to a wide range of magazine articles and research publications this year, and with another article due for submission in early February, 2014 looks set to be a busy year.
Taking Flight … Literally
This was the year of my first international trip (and plane flight) in over 20 years. Landing in the dusty, hot Doha airport at 5AM local time was the culmination of much planning, and deeply appreciated encouragement from iEARN Australia, an organisation I am proud to be a part of.
As those who followed my #RoadtoDoha posts and photos at the time already know, Qatar was an ideal destination for a first time solo traveler, and a photographer’s dream. I still get slightly emotional thinking about my time in Doha, for it was a truly life changing experience – both for me as a person, and as an educator sharing my story on the world stage.
So, where to from here?
2014 promises to be an interesting year. The experiences, learning, and new friendships of 2013 have helped me glimpse a potential future beyond relief teaching, and I am starting to consider how to implement some exciting new ideas. I’m in no particular hurry, because 2014 marks my return to postgraduate study, as I begin my Post Graduate Certificate in Religious Education at a local university, with a view to starting my Masters in 2015.
In other news, I’m planning to travel to Sydney for the Flat Connections Conference in June 2014, and am looking forward to spending 2 weeks in what I have heard is an amazing city. I am also hoping to attend the ACEC Conference in Adelaide, but am still weighing up the details and costs of that one.
I don’t know what 2014 holds for me, but I’m looking forward to finding out … One step at a time.
I am still coming to terms with the fact that I travelled halfway around the world to share my social media journey and experiences with The Global Classroom Project at #iEARN13.
Qatar was the venue for my first (three!) international presentations, including my first Global Classroom Workshop, and the launch of my first iEARN project.
Here they are, with links to explore further if you wish.
Connecting Globally via Twitter and the #globalclassroom Chats (Workshop)
I still can’t believe that nearly 50 people attended this workshop, which was live translated from English into Arabic. It seemed to make quite an impact, judging by the frequent informal sessions I held with new iEARN twitter teachers over the days which followed!
It was a pleasure to present in front of the @iEARNAustralia management team, who now have a much better understanding of what I’ve been trying to do with our organisation’s Twitter account.
This workshop was also the first time I experimented with a bilingual “Find Someone Who” activity as a brief 5 minute introduction to the ‘essence’ of Twitter – short, rapid fire conversations with global partners around a range of issues.
A huge thank you goes to @rawyashatila in Lebanon, who generously translated the document into Arabic! 🙂
One of the unexpected surprises of the iEARN Conference was the invitation to contribute to the Social Media Panel Keynote, created by Khitham Al-Utaibi (@khitamah) and Rebecca Hodges (@ProfHodges).
Presenting alongside 3 academics, and one of the most globally aware high school students I’ve ever met (@AndrewNasser), was quite an experience. We had around 450 people in the audience, and I received some very positive feedback on my contribution. I suspect I went over my time allocation slightly, but I think this tweet sums it up nicely:
Well done @mgraffin A short, sharp presentation on the relevance of social media that resonated with many.
This turned out to be one of the more productive sessions of the conference, where I took the opportunity to share the story of the #globalclassroom travelling scrapbook project, and discuss plans for an iEARN version.
I took away some hastily scribbled notes / suggestions, and a list of potential partners. I’m hoping to get this project running by September 2013, and will have to try and sort out the planning / organisation approach over the next week or so.