Category Archives: Events

ISTELive2016- NOT!


ISTE2016 is right around the corner and many are gearing up to head to Denver for the ultimate tech-ed experience. While many are deciding which outfits to pack and making sure the have all the adapters to power all of their devices, I am stocking the fridge with quick snacks and making sure I have enough coffee. Just like last year I plan to spend the conference days at my kitchen table participating in ISTELive2016, the virtual version of ISTE with live presentations and backchannel discussions.DSC00034

Except… I just found out that ISTELive2016 is not happening.


I’m so very disappointed with the decision not to continue ISTELive.  Last year I spent three (plus) days glued to my computer watching and interacting with amazing presenters, as well as the ISTELive2015 cohort.  I was so enthralled that I forgot to eat.  When I walked the dog, I took my phone with me so that I wouldn’t miss anything.  I have gone back and watched the recorded sessions.  I made real connections that have impacted my teaching, connections that would not have happened if I could not attend ISTE virtually.

I’m not sure why this decision was made, but I can tell you that following social media feeds, and reading the presenters handouts is no substitution for the experience that I had last year.  ISTELive made me feel like I was part of ISTE, immersed in it.  When you hear your question being asked of a presenter and she responds to the live audience you can’t help but feel connected.  There was an energy that made me feel like I was actually there. Many of the ISTELive2015 cohort expressed the same feeling and many were planning, even then, to participate in ISTELive this year.

People have many reason for not being able to attend such an important and rewarding event; family obligations, work obligations, cost, etc.  It’s too late for me to even consider attending in Denver and obviously it’s too late to find a way to make ISTELive happen.  I will watch the twitter feeds, but I don’t expect that I’ll be glued to them.  I will read the handouts, but I can’t imagine that it will feel any different than any other day where I read my blogs and PD articles. In short, I predict that I, and many others, will be very disconnected from the ISTE experience this year.

So. Very. Disappointed.

ISTE 2015 Take-Away: OneTab


For those of us who participated in #ISTELive one of the most valuable experiences that we had was the backchannel discussion. We began our discussion during the opening Keynote, but things really swung into action during the sessions on Monday through Wednesday.  Over the course of these three days we became colleagues and friends… a true cohort.  When I talk about my ISTE experience I mention these wonderful educators by name.  We shared a lot! We talked about teaching and technology, choices and challenges, family and friends, travels and home…  We talked about how we were on the ISTE diet (feeding on information forgetting to eat real food), how we hadn’t left our computers for days, how we needed treadmill desks…

…And we shared TONS of resources.  Early on, Adrienne (@adebouch) gave me the tip to use Symbaloo to curate some of the resources that I found and we both began collecting and curating.  Her ISTE Symbaloo was connected to my ISTE Symbaloo and mine to hers, and we both had a link to a shared google doc with Jen’s notes (@JKjennkaiser) from the sessions.  We had several people from our group editing that document as well.

As I said though… we shared  A LOT!  I got to the point that I couldn’t keep up, so I started just opening tabs.  I decided I would go back at the end of each session and add the links to my Symbaloo. I remember looking at my tabs at one point and I had so many open that I could only see one or two letters on each tab.  Thankfully Brandon (@Den_Petersen ), one of the moderators, recommended installing the OneTab add-on.

OneTab is a Chrome/Firefox add-on for website curation.  It is by far, the easiest webpage curation tool I have ever used.  Here’s how it works: Open as many tabs in your browser as you want.  When you get tired of looking at all of those open tabs, click on the OneTab button. Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 1.00.31 PM OneTab closes all of the open tab and creates a new webpage with links to all of the tabs that were just closed.  That list can then be named, rearranged, edited, shared, exported or deleted.  The next time you want a new list of tabs closed OneTab will add them on that same page.  You can move links from one list to another.  Check out more features here.

When you share a list you either can share it as a link or use the generated QR code.  Check out my links form the QR code/Augmented Reality Session. Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 2.07.16 PM

There are two features that are missing that would improve the functionality.  First, when I share a list, I’d like to be able to see the title of that list (the title that I gave it) on the shared page.  Right now I can’t find it anywhere.  Second, I’d like to be able to annotate the list in OneTab before sharing. My work around for this is to copy and paste the shared list into my blog post or a word document, but life would be just a bit easier it I could annotate the links before sharing.

Saving and sharing links just got amazingly easier for me and my students.  If you’ve ever been frustrated by keeping track of webpages, give OneTab a try.

In Anticipation- Faculty Field Trip: Aida


Verdi conducting Aida 1881

Adrien Marie [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been immersed in Verdi.  Our next faculty field trip is scheduled for tomorrow.  Three of us are going to see the Pittsburgh Opera production of Verdi’s Aida.  It’s more than three hours long.  We’ll be sitting in peanut heaven.  And… we’ll be competing against Steelers’ traffic. I can’t wait!

Please realize there’s no sarcasm intended in the last statement.  I truly can’t wait! The only music I’ve listened to in the last two weeks has been Aida.  On my way to work, cleaning the house, mowing the grass, getting dressed. I have no idea what the libretto is actually saying.  I can tell by the music that it doesn’t end well.  Today, finally, I had he opportunity to read the synopsis.  I love it!  I wish I spoke (sang) Italian so that I could truly appreciate the musical genius that is Verdi.

I almost regret that I have to see it, because I know that the instant the ensemble sings, “Emancipa!” or, “Radames! Radames!  Radames!” those moments will be over and I’ll have only memories.

So… anxiously awaiting (and simultaneously lamenting) tomorrow’s performance.

CIPA 10 Years Later


Today beginning at 11:00 EDT, ALA and Google are hosting a national symposium to revisit the impact of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Although CIPA is broader than education, if you’ve ever wondered about some of the technology choices that the schools make, this may provide some insight. You can follow the conversation on twitter at #CIPA_ALA13.  The meeting will also be archived, and will be made available on the ALA Washington Office’s Youtube Channel.

Source: The District Dispatch, News for Friends of Libraries, from the ALA Washington Office. July 23, 2013.

Unconferences and EdCamps as PD


Recently I’ve been reading and hearing the terms “unconference” and “edcamp” more and more frequently. I first heard of an “unconference” in reference to the first ever PSLA Unconference hosted by Joyce Valenza (@joycevalenza) and Stephanie Brame.

From the PSLA 2013 program:

“Share, learn, exchange ideas, solve problems, build community and capacity at our very first PSLA Unconference. No spectators allowed! Come prepared to start or participate in relevant, timely conversations and help us prepare an exciting, interactive agenda, culminating in a fast-paced Smackdown.”

I was unable to attend the conference but during and after the conference, everything I read pointed to how valuable and inspiring this session was.

Fans of the Nerdy Book Club know about the first ever nErDcamp, an edcamp for which the praise seems to echo infinitely with the participants.  (For those of us who couldn’t make it (me) we feel like the kid who missed the bus on the day of the field trip… although we can life vicariously through the Idea Board.)

Correction (See comment below) Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) Angela Watson (@Angela_Watson) just returned from ISTE in San Antonio, TX.

From Cool Cat Teacher The Cornerstone

My best learning still takes place in unstructured situations. In both edcamps and the Hack Education unconference, there are no presentations or formal sessions, just opportunities for educators to get together in groups talk about topics that matter to them.”

The internet is a pretty big place and I don’t profess to know it all (even though I am a librarian) but I have yet to read anything negative from people attending these types of events.  Maybe the nay-sayers aren’t posting or maybe I’m just not following them, but the overwhelming majority of comments about unconferences and edcamps have been very favorable.

With all due respect, I have to say, as of late I have been less than impressed with the topics that have been presented for professional development during our in-service days.  Not that there isn’t a time and place for the district to voice their goals and provide information and strategies to reach those goals, but wouldn’t it be rewarding if, even once a year, we held an unconference or an edcamp on a professional development day.  The concept of these types of events as professional development is appealing because it provides the participants with the autonomy to decide which topics are most important to them.   They have the added benefit of providing the administration with insight into the priorities of the staff.

Do you think this could work?  What are the drawbacks? And can someone please tell me the difference between an unconference and an edcamp?

Faculty Field Trip to Randyland


A Visit to Randyland from M E Shenefiel on Vimeo.

There are hidden treasures everywhere!  I learned about Randyland through a tweet from @MrSchuReads (and posted about it here.)  When I told Deb about it, she immediately suggested that we go.  Today we visited Randyland in the Mexican War Streets section of the North Side of Pittsburgh. It’s mesmerizing!

colors and dots and swirls

and lines and colors and flowers

and signs and colors and chairs

and doors

and colors and music and words and colors

and dance and plants



There are just so many details, and there is such inspiration, and it just makes you feel so happy!  It’s like looking through a kaleidoscope with both eyes open.

After spending some time marveling, and giggling (and taking loads of pictures) we headed down about two blocks to the Mattress Factory Museum.  The museum is between installations so there weren’t a lot of pieces to see.  As it turned “not a lot” was just the right amount.  I had never been to the Mattress Factory before and have never experienced anything like it.  Suffice it to say that you’ll have to go an visit in person.  (Who knew there could be spoilers with artwork?)

The big take away though was the idea of faculty field trips.  Standing in the midst of all of that creativity and commitment you become excited about the possibilities.  My mind was racing with ideas for lessons, and displays, and collaboration.

I need more.  Pittsburgh is brimming with these hidden and not-so-hidden treasures.  Get ready EHUE.  We have a plan…

July 31 #ScharpSchu Book Club Meeting


Watch. Connect. Read.: The July #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting.

Time to read!  The July #SharpSchu book club (linked above) will feature:

  • Sidekicks by Dan Santat
  • Bobby vs Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee, Illustrated by Dan Santat

If you’ve never participated, here’s how it works.  The #SharpSchu Book Club is a Twitter based discussion.  You can participate from home (in your PJs if you want!)  On July 31st, at 7:00, login to Twitter and follow #SharpSchu.

  • 7:00- 7:15- Discussion of Sidekicks
  • 7:15- 7:30- Dan Santat will answer questions
  • 7:30- 7:45 they the discussion will focus on Bobby Vs Girls.
  • 7:45-8:00 Lisa Yee and Dan Santat will answer questions

International Dot Day


Today is two months to the day until International Dot Day.  This event has been recently publicized in the blogosphere and of course I was curious…

From the Dot Club Website:

“International Dot Day was launched by teacher Terry Shay when he introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009. (Fun Fact: Terry chose September 15 because the original publishing date of The Dot is September 15, 2003!) The Dot tells the story of a caring teacher who reaches a reluctant student in a remarkably creative way. The teacher dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.”

This year September 15th falls on a Sunday, so the date might make for some interesting scheduling.  Still, I’d love to to see EHUE students and staff participate.  Let’s start planning now!  A free resource guide is available after registering.  Are you ready to make your mark on the world?