By Tiffany Whitehead
ISTE is the conference that I most look forward to attending each year. As my school’s media specialist and tech leader, it’s essential that my colleagues view me as a constant source of new ideas—and ISTE helps me to be that. It also helps me to stay current with the latest developments in the global ed-tech community. The conference is an incredible opportunity to learn from and network with other educators who are also working to harness the power of technology to enhance teaching and learning in their schools.
My first ISTE experience in Denver two years ago was life-changing, because I made face-to-face connections and learned from so many of my school library and ed-tech role models from Twitter and the blogging community. Meeting Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones, teacher-librarians whom I’ve long admired, inspired me to do better work. Over the years at ISTE, I’ve learned about the most popular Web 2.0 tools such as Glogster, Animoto, Go Animate, Dropbox, Google Apps for Education, and Schoology. Last year, QR codes and iPads were hot topics. There’s always something great that I can work into my library program, and lots of other great tools that I can take back to share with my teachers.
I attended ISTE last year and brought one of my teaching colleagues. Sharing the experience with her made it easier to take what we learned and put it into practice. I also volunteered last year at a SIGMS (Special Interest Group for Media Specialists), which helped me make new connections with other teacher-librarians and ISTE members, leading to my current position as SIGMS vice chair. ISTE is so much more than an annual conference. It offers opportunities for learning and connecting throughout the entire year.
Attending ISTE 2012 in San Diego is a no-brainer. I plan to present on the Hollywood Squares panel, which will address recent education and technology research, with some of the same school library and ed-tech rock stars that I was so ecstatic to meet back in 2010. I also look forward to bringing along another classroom teacher to experience ISTE and get inspired by the new ideas it offers. Although I hate missing ALA’s annual conference, attending ISTE and soaking up its unique culture is the most important thing I can do for myself each year as a library media specialist.
Here are my top five picks for ISTE 2012:
Digital Age Media Center Playground
Monday, June 25, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Meet other librarians and classroom teachers as they share their favorite technologies and resources. This is also a great volunteer opportunity for those looking to get involved.
Beyond Googling: Using Technology to Build a Culture of Inquiry
Monday, June 25, 4:15–5:15 p.m.
Chris Lehmann, principal of Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy, discusses how problem-based and inquiry-driven learning can help students develop critical-thinking skills, be engaged, and experience deep learning.
Tuesday, June 26, 2–3:15 p.m.
Steven Hargadon, creator of Classroom 2.0, a social network for educators who use Web 2.0, talks about how social media is used in the library to boost learning and get kids excited about research.
Wednesday, June 27, 7:30–9:30 a.m.
Reserve your seat for this one early! Hear educator Alan November speak at this breakfast buffet, where SIGMS hands out its Technology Innovation Awards.
Hollywood Squares: A Brain-Bending Game Show
Wednesday, June 27, 1:15–2:15 p.m.
Join me and my “celebrity” friends for a Hollywood Squares–style panel discussion on the latest ed-tech research.
About the author:
Tiffany Whitehead is a library media specialist at Central Middle School in Baton Rouge, LA.