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ISTE 2018 Chapter 4--Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday morning Andy and I were up early for the PLN Leaders Breakfast. He worked out in the flashback exercise room while I took an hours' bike ride for a little exercise, packed my Oculus Go into my backpack, and took a Lyft, mindful of the schedule. I had a plan. A few weeks before the conference I queried ISTE Director of Community Engagement Simon Helton about a time limit he, in an earlier email, had set for PLN Award introductions. "Really? 30 seconds?" Simon had responded that yes, there is so much to get through that we have to keep it short in order to get people to presentations and the PLN Community Fair. Okay. I decided that the only way I was going to make it through this was with humor. I adapted the Girl Scout Law:

Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be honest and fair,
    friendly and helpful,
    considerate and caring,
    courageous and strong, and
    responsible for what I say and do,
and to 
    respect myself and others,
    respect authority,
    use resources wisely,
    make the world a better place, and
    be a sister to every Girl Scout. 
I had to narrow down my Girl Scout Law adaptation to reference only its first half, though darn, is Mary the queen of "using resources wisely," or what? But once I rephrased that portion of the Law I had only enough time to close with "In other words, she's a pretty darned perfect Girl Scout. Please join me in congratulating this year's recipient of the Virtual Pioneer of the Year Award, Mary Howard ."

After I had an image of my tiny speech I uploaded it to my Oculus Go library and had it on the library screen with the image of the little speech. The introduction was videoed by Andy, so there's no denying this happened:

Kind words from friend and Board member Dr. Sheryl NussbaumBeach on da twitter:

I'm just so proud of Mary and so happy the introduction didn't bomb!

After the breakfast, having completed our last official act, we spent time on the expo floor. We split up, and I ran into Bob and Rosie, who steered me to the Microsoft "world" on the Expo floor. Once there, I discovered amazing things about Office365, our MNPS office tools suite. I am intrigued by Immersive Reader and plan to share what I learned there and will pursue in online tutorial resources with teachers at my school. I got to view it in a 3D goggle presentation and then I had a 15 minute experience exploring Hololens! What fun. I want one at home, but at a current price tag of $3,985 per unit, I doubt we'll be using it in the classroom any time soon.

We met up for lunch at Giodarno's Pizza. But we had to have deep dish pizza in Chicago or risk being the laughing stock of our friends and families upon return home. But the PIZZA! Oh my!

The house tee-shirt the servers wore was black with white lettering: "I got stuffed in Chicago." After eating two pieces of a medium sized one I might have bought at tee, but I was feeling so plugged I felt I might have to get an XXL to fit me!

After Giordarno's Andy had to get with his NY peeps at the conference center and Mary wanted to do the Expo floor again so I headed over to the Marriott across the conference center to meet up with Jan Zanetis. She wanted to introduce me to a most interesting fellow who has a tech startup for helping young student athletes. You may well be hearing about Athlete Foundry over the near future, as they pursue a commercial model for student athlete support that sounds well-rounded, student-centered, and potentially playing-field-leveling. Perhaps more about that later.

Back at the conference, I met up with Andy and we made our way through the Poster Sessions. One of my enduring epiphanies at this year's ISTE is that one can make a conference of it without ever setting a foot into a "sit and git" session driven by a PowerPoint. We can do that in Second Life as well (and we can mirror the posters and the expo floor experiences). What we cannot do is actually be in the same physical location, looking into one another's real physical eyes, and having a conversation that has the vitality of interaction that can only be experienced in the same "meatspace." Yes, that is the term we have long used to describe physical geolocation. If you want a fun diversion (SQUIRREL!!!), check out the google results for that term.

But I digress. I just love the Poster Sessions. It's very much what like Andy, Mary, and Bob and Rosie did in the Playground--standing in one spot at a table with a display and a computer and/or other gear, and explaining how this can help one's students learn and grow. Instead of three tables, there are 50, each with a different topic.

I glommed onto one in particular that I would like to share. How could I not be drawn to the middle school Mexican lads in their khakis, blue blazers, and ties explaining their project wherein they melded language learning and science research and created presentations on dark blue painted cardboard from boxes, assembled them into "rooms," took 3D photos, and shared those on a webpage created in html? Man, I write long sentences. You may have to reread that last one aloud to get it. Somehow I feel that project deserves that sentence. The session, entitled "The Sky and Beyond: Languages and Science 3D," is described at the ISTE Program webpage, but again, for details, we needed the humans. Two young men were eager to share and did so, encouraging me to sign their poster and then to keep the school-branded pen. Their teacher shared his badge and contact info, and yes, we will be in touch!

Poster sessions are perfect for educators who are interested in a wide range of topics. And of course the Expo floor, once you understand that every person who approaches you wants to sell you something, can be a great set of learning experiences themselves.

It was time for the Tuesday Keynotes before we knew it. The highlight for me was the casual onstage interview with science fiction author Andy Weir, though I enjoyed the presentations by Katie Martin and Michael Cohen. Weir was self-deprecating and sardonically funny as he shared his rise to best-selling author from accidental software programmer. Martin was impassioned about our need to teach differently and I remarked to Mary in a whisper that her slide about student engagement in school sliding down from relatively high to very low in the elementary to middle school years could have been mined from a David Warlick presentation 20 years ago. That said, new teachers need to understand Warlick, Sir Ken Robinson, and now Martin's message warning of how creativity and imagination are schooled out of our children methodically due to the vestigial way many teachers teach, which is also the teaching method most school districts primarily support. Cohen had a similar message, focusing on creativity and showing examples of his student's work in the community instigated by students and empowered by school, not squelched by it.

We went our separate ways after keynotes, and I met up with the lovely and aforementioned Dr. Compton (see Take 1, Chicago 360/TILT) for an adventure out to the Chicago Museum for Science and Engineering. An event hosted by Microsoft and Powerschool (now a Microsoft company--everyone will be soon), we had discovered Friday that we had both been invited and had then made an assignation to meetup at the conference center to travel together. There we had (very) light hors d'oeuvres and water/soft drinks prior to sitting in the museum's theater for a filming of a Microsoft vodcast, where we were the live audience. That was interesting, but very old school, a "sit and git" in the guise of entertainment. The content was great--community service described by students, maker learning by teachers, etc., but the presentation was driven almost universally by teleprompters. No matter how sincere the presenter on stage I could not get past the fact that most were reading prepared and practiced script. I told Helen that was an hour of my life I could not get back. I was very impressed with resources at and will be exploring those as I plan for the coming school year at my Middle School. The exception to the rule was a spoken voice poem from artist Toney Jackson. He made us sit up and take notice. Amazing...

Learn more about presenters at this event at the Microsoft Education site.

Thankfully we were herded off all the way through the museum to the half-dome planetarium/theatre on the other side of the building. By this time we were all buzzed to view the scheduled premier of the BBC documentary "Oceans: Our Blue Planet."

The Executive Producer, Jennifer Hile, was there and spoke a few words about the immense difficulties surrounding the filming of this movie to the steeply-assembled masses. We noshed on our box lunch turkey sandwiches, which were clearly intended to stave off starvation until the Powerschool Reception after the movie. Excitement built until an organizer came out and opened with the words, "I am so sorry to make this announcement..." You can guess the rest: No movie. Turns out the projection room in the theater was tracking 187 degrees and no tech fix was in sight. Ah, technology, can't live with it, can't live without it.

We had a drink and some finger-food at the reception in the lobby just outside the half-dome, and chatted with Jennifer Hile for quite a few minutes. She's dedicated and talented and I can't wait to see this film. It's sure to come to Nashville, likely to our Adventure Science Center, so I'll watch for it. Another good moment was the chance to introduce Helen to Mike Lawrence, former ISTE Board Member now working for Powerschool. Helen, to keep the story short, recently developed the new ISTE Teacher Certification course and was to be co-teaching an elite beta group that course in Arlington Virginia the following week. Small world? Mike will be a student in that course. He joked that now he would have it easy and she, smiling but not joking, responded in her lovely British accent, "Oh no, you must know I'll be harder on you." Sorry, Mike! And you're welcome.

We were among the first at the reception to head across the building to the buses parked in the aftermath of pouring rain. Cue the pouring rain, the long wait as the organizers decided which bus was going where, the load-on to separate buses with the quick see ya later hug, A short ride to the hotel, where I was afforded curbside service just for me at my hotel, due to having chatted with the stern but amiable driver and maybe alleviating some of his anxiety during the chaotic transition from Museum to hotels. Andy was still out. He got to the hotel and we pretty much retired, prepping for the final day of the conference, which I will not belabor.

Andy was up early in the morning to make his crack-o'-dawn flight and was gone, though I had all of the above to remember him by. Aside from the stellar closing keynote by the stellar Nadia Lopez  
(my hands-down favorite of all the keynotes), we were done here.

Wednesday evening Andy and I did enjoy a final dinner at Cindy's rooftop restaurant before we hit the room, and here are a couple snaps from that:

After Andy met with his NY folks we headed down to lakeside, he should have packed and retired, since his flight back home to NY was early early. I had a quick couple of beers (they had to be gone by check-out tomorrow!) and grabbed the two Hemingway Short Stories I had packed for the trip. "Let's take a walk," I said, and we did. We walked past Buckminster Fountain one more time.   


From a bicycle cart vendor, I bought a light-up helicopter toy for the beach. Lee Ann and I were planning to drive to Pawley's Island a week from the coming Thursday to enjoy some down tome. Little did I know that I would wipe out on a rental bike in Nashville and spend that week in physical rehab at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital, where I'm penning these last few lines. Suffice it to say a broken acetabulum (hip socket, essentially) cut the beach trip short. I should be home in a day or two after working my way out of the debilitating hip joint/muscle spasm stage to the 12-week projected right leg "touch only no weight bearing" stage of my healing. My wife is so great. She said, "We'll go to another beach over Christmas Break, I'm just glad you're going to be okay." I could have stayed another week in Chicago had I not so missed being with my honey. All was good and would be so.

Andy and I strolled to the lakeside and sat down. Fireworks began. I fired up cigars and my iPhone and Livestreamed Facebook. Good night. Watch...

Quickckjumps: Chapter 1Chapter 2, Chapter 3


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