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ISTE 2017 – Keynote – Jad Abumrad

IMG_3777Even though ISTE 2017 Conference started with some dinners on Friday, workshops and Affiliate Summit on Saturday, and more sessions and workshops today, the big kick off is the first keynote, tonight. Always fun to have over 7,000 people in a keynote! (Yes, I did bring a beach ball, and last I checked, it was still bouncing around the auditorium)

IMG_3775While we waited for the keynote to begin, we were entertained by an incredible live band! Three relatively local, and amazingly talented lady musicians provided an amazing prelude. Check out @TiarraGirls. They are three sisters, one of whom is still in high school, one who recently graduated, and one who just finished her freshman year of college.

Mila Thomas – President of ISTE welcomed everyone.

Tonight there are over 21,000 attendees and exhibitors, from all 50 states, and 100 countries.

Mila introduced Richard, who was a Making IT Happen award winner, and started his career as a high school teacher. Most recently was Chief Innovation Officer for the State of Rhode Island.


Richard Culatta – ISTE CEO

Richard also thanked the ISTE Volunteer Board and recognized their help. Richard has been a part of ISTE for many years, and figures he went to his first conference when he was a student teacher. Richard did a “palm app” to find out where people were from, and engaged the audience.

Richard spoke briefly about some of the SHIFTs he has seen.

SHIFT1: From delivery to exploration. Technology has the ability turn students into explorers. Technology allows students to move from being content consumers to explorers.

SHIFT2: From one-size-fits all to personalized.

SHIFT3: Using tech to close the equity gap. Learning opportunities today are often based on the zip they live in, colour of the skin, or the wealth of the parents. Technology can bring access by bringing tools that couldn’t normally be available to them.

Richard used stories from his own experience to talk about these three shifts. And then Richard had some announcements and updates:

ISTE: Vision / Community / Learning Opportunities


ISTE today is releasing the updated ISTE Standards for Educators

ISTE is releasing a new magazine – Empowered Learner

Richard reminded everyone that ISTE members really helped make it happen, moving wireless from 30% of schools to now over 80% of schools.


  • Over 3,000 proposals were submitted for this year’s conference
  • 500 people reviewed proposals
  • 2,500 presenters
  • ISTE Bytes
  • New type of session for next year: members decide who fills the slots
  • Mobile App completely redesigned, can scan directly from the badge into your contacts.
  • There are new events coming this year

Learning Opportunities

  • New books – No Fear Coding
  • Recording many sessions of the conference, going to make them available online for free (starting in August)
  • Professional Learning Networks (PLN)

IMG_3789Ignite Presentation – Sarah Thomas – Prince George’s County Public Schools

Learn to Teach

Sarah asked if we learn to teach, or teach to learn. Sarah is focusing today on the Learner Standard. Every Child Needs a Champion TED talk – referenced by Sarah. When you have peer to peer collaboration between students, it works GREAT. You now have multiple brains on any given problem.

PLNs allow you to make connections and friendship that turn the world into your oyster. These connections become the foundation for learning. These connections kept Sarah in Twitter.

It’s a great time to be an educator, because of all the connections we can make using technology, around the world. Social Media allows us to get together AND advocate for our connections and our students.

Sarah has a Personal Learning Family (PLF)

Why not? be a learner?

Sarah’s presentation can be found at:

One more song from @TiarraGirls

IMG_3792Keynote: Jad Abumrad – Host and creator of public radio’s “radiolab

Jad started by talking a little bit about how they answered the questions, back in 2011, reflecting on how radiolab happened. It wasn’t plans, or anything, but it was just gastric acid, gut churning. This started Jad to thinking about “gut churning”.

One of the first questions that he had to tackle when he got started, was the question of voice. What is your voice? Who are you? Radio exacerbates that, because it is a medium about the voice.

Didn’t have a lot of role models, but at the age of 29 he ended up through a series of turns, in a radio studio. But as he started in the radio business, the microphone would cause his mind to go haywire, and he would start speaking, like others. Jad would be in the studio and someone else’s voice would come out, and he struggled to be himself and speak in his own voice.

What does that mean? To speak in your own voice?

The power of the microphone, is that it creates a massive empty world that seems so much bigger than you, that a thousand voices rush in to fill the void, in your head. Jad asked all of us to speak at our mid-voice tone, and he said, doesn’t it feel weird? And most people said yes.

Although Jad has been doing this for more than 15 years, it is still hard for him to start, and that discomfort is always there, and still takes him a few minutes to get over it.

Jad always “shows his work” that’s what radiolab is all about.

Jad used many examples about how people tell stories, how they build them, and how they try to engage their audio through audio only.

As a reporter, ostensibly, his job is to find answers. But that’s not his job, it’s actually more about questions. Anyone can ask a question, but how are you asking the question. Be the question, your very being could be/ask the question. Are we pursuing the question past the point of reason? Sometimes nothing is good until it stops being reasonable.

Chasing the antelope

If you commit to the question, you may not get the answer, but you will get somewhere else, perhaps somewhere beautiful, somewhere you may not have thought of, something completely different.

Jad used an example of how they tried to demonstrate in radio, how different animals see the colours of a rainbow, and managed to get a choir to help make this possible.

Adjacent possible – what kind of change is available to you at any given moment. Can you know your adjacent possible before you are actually standing in it? Or do you have to go through the pain to get there.

Truly unique keynote: Jad uses various audio/video clips to convey his thoughts and ideas to us. For a guy who works in radio, he does an extraordinary job of using audio AND video mixed together to make his point and engage the audience. We were all mesmerized and spellbound throughout his entire presentation, yet it was incredibly difficult to describe. Jad is truly a visionary person in his own class and field, and I know I’ll be looking up radiolab’s podcasts, as likely will be thousands of others.

Thank you ISTE for an excellent opening keynote!



ISTE 2017 – Affiliate Summit

Today is one of the most full days of the ISTE Conference. We get the opportunity to hang out with 150 other affiliate leaders from around the world. Okay, so most are from North America, but there’s some from outside too – great to bump into friends of mine from Australia. I’ve been fortunate to meet many people through the Affiliate Summit, and totally one of the most valuable days spent at the ISTE Conference!

**Todd’s note: these are my notes from today, they may not make a lot of sense to all of you wonderful readers – sorry!

Notes and agenda items for today include:

Susan welcomed everyone to the morning, she is pretty excited. Susan asked everyone to quickly introduce each table.

Started out with a keynote presentation from Joe Sanfelippo – it was most excellent. Click here for my notes!

Panel Discussion – The Ever-Evolving Models of Membership

We had a great panel who talked about membership of their organizations. Each affiliate varies greatly in the size of their membership, the services they provide, where they get their funding from, and beyond. We all have our own challenges, and we all can learn from each other. This was a panel where each affiliate briefly talked about their membership structure, and then moved into a Q&A with individual panel members. It was very thought-provoking hearing about their challenges and their plans for improvement.

ICE – Illinois Computing Educators
Individual Membership

Originally membership was part of conference fees, but then folks who didn’t come to the conference, didn’t renew their membership. Now moved to a free membership method.

HSTE – Hawaii Society for Technology in Education
Free membership, one size fits all. Offered during registration at annual conference. Annual renewal. About 1,000 members, public, public charter, private, and higher ed mix. Struggling to decide how they can provide more value to members – content, or training. Nervous about a limited revenue stream. Host a lot of events just through sponsorships, fully volunteer board; one grant funded part-timer on Kaua’i. Three groups that come together to do a conference

EdTechSA, South Australia
Variety of membership types, pre-service teacher membership included in state conference registration. Annual renewal. Volunteer management committee with support from paid Executive Officer.

  • Individual Membership – $78 AUD
  • Pre-service teacher membership – $30 AUD
  • Organizational membership Level A – $154
  • Organizational membership Level B – $230

TIES, Technology Information Educational Services
50th anniversary this year. District, school, professional organizations are members. Fully staffed, about 90.

  • 48 owners – one time payment $5/student and $5/student annually, plus fees.
  • ?? Partners – $5.50/student annually, plus higher fees fees
  • Customers – everyone else, full price for a limited content list

Member make up – all school district staff

MACUL, Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning
Free membership (no dues at all and no tiers of special memberships). 4 full time staff with volunteer board. 24,500 members. 68% teachers, 20% tech director/specialist, 12% other. Primarily Michigan (also have 24 other states, Canada and a few other countries)

Individual membership is tiered based on level of benefits: Basic and Premium. Also, group, institutional and corporate membership. Staff of about 50, additional contractors.

  • 16,000 basic individual members – $125
  • 1,000 premium individual members – $305
  • 70 group membership groups – $1,600-$6,500
  • 37 institutional members – $600
  • 40 corporate members – varies based on number of employees

What are your current challenges?

ICE – Goal for building membership, and moving to free -> ended up doubling membership, and doubling the target / marketing audience.

There was some great conversation around membership and challenges that everyone is facing within their organizations. There are lots of options out there, how do we create and add value so that we can be helpful and attract people to participate.

What is the number one priority for the panel in terms of membership issues for the coming year?

  • Creating more value through PD opportunities
  • Changing bylaws to reflect membership
  • What can we offer as benefits to our members
  • New technologies curriculum

ISTE Standards

Carolyn Sykora from ISTE talked a little bit about ISTE Standards, and worked with a couple of folks on a panel who talked about their implementation.

Affiliate Highlights

One of the fun parts of the day is a number of affiliates volunteer to talk for two minutes or less about something their affiliate is doing. Folks from all over the world chat briefly about some of their exciting activities. Of course with ATLE we talked briefly about some of the things we do, and gave away some swag – including sharing ketchup chips with our table!

Quick note: MassCUE had written a specific poem telling about themselves, it was GREAT!

NHSTE now has a board position focused on advocacy and state level issues.

ISTE Presentation Richard Culatta, CEO and Mila Fuller, President

Mila spoke briefly about how ISTE has spent the last year or so in an “Active Listening” mode learning from affiliates. ISTE is aware that we make a choice to participate and they are listening and paying attention to how they can best help. Mila introduced Richard to share briefly.

Full Board and CEO are all attending the Affiliate Summit for a period of time, and it’s the only event they will all be at together – Richard wanted to emphasize how important affiliates are to ISTE.

Richard suggests that ISTE has three main tools to help us all:

  1. Set the vision
  2. Creating Community
  3. Providing Learning Opportunities

Although there is much work required to keep these going and constantly improving. Richard also reminded us that he believes the ISTE and Affiliate connections are under-utilized. and he would love to work on that and improve it.

Richard talked about how in education we sometimes try to overwhelm people with data, when the stories that we have and can tell will make the difference.

Richard and Mila spent some time in frank discussion and Q&A with the affiliate group. I appreciated his honesty and refreshing willingness to work with people and learn from each other.

Some conversation around visiting other affiliate conferences, and learning from each other – both in front, and behind the scenes. Todd’s note: Need to reach out to Bill @ ASTE, see about dropping in at their conference.

Mmm. Had a great lunch, thank you ISTE!

Now on to ESSA and Advocacy Policy Updates. U.S. topics.

Roundtable Discussions

This is one of the best parts of the day. We have three sessions, and you can choose your session to discuss various topics of interest.

ASTE has a really interesting way of showing sponsors.

Keynote Smackdown

Another great “feature” of the Affiliate Summit is the keynote smackdown. Potential keynote speakers are given 4 minutes to present, while the rest of us get to listen and evaluate for perhaps inviting them to our own conferences. Today we had two presenters, and it worked well. Quick, exciting, and informative. There are some fantastic speakers out there!

@art_cathyhunt talked art and kids. The amount of art and how it can be done now is just extraordinary. Cathy had a great presentation, just hard to explain it in words.

Todd Nesloney

Social Media interns – give the power to the students to tell the story through social media. Perspective of the school, through the eyes of the child.

Todd’s school does an event that that invites Dads to be connected and appreciated. Mystery Skype is a lot of fun, but make sure you don’t use “Y’all” or they will guess you are from the South right now.

Math fair – kids can pick anything that they are passionate about, and they have to show six ways math is involved, the only requirement is that it blows your mind!

Positive Post-it note day.

Educators need to read and improve their learning as well. Book – Kids Deserve It!

The day wrapped up around 4 PM, and then we had a reception at 6 PM. The reception is a social activity with lots of food and visiting and the infamous basket exchange. Again, ISTE treated us very well. There was all kinds of local food that we could snack on all evening. It is great having unsweetened and sweetened iced tea! Lots of nachos and cheese sauce, mac & cheese, and so on. Got to visit with a lot of people – was a great evening!

One of the highlights is the affiliate basket exchange. Each affiliate brings a basket/gift bag full of items that may be local to them, etc. Our bag had all “Canada” stuff like hats, pens, coffee cups, teddy bears, etc. We ended up drawing CUE and they were exceedingly generous with their basket! Enjoyed opening everything.

All in all, it was a great day! Big thanks to Susan Larson, the committee and ISTE for supporting this event!

ISTE 2017 – Affiliate Summit Keynote – Joe Sanfelippo

Part of the Affiliate Summit this year was a keynote from Joe. Joe is an incredible speaker, and while I would normally just included my notes as part of the Affiliate Day, it was too good to wait, and it stands alone.

Joe Sanfelippo, Ph. D.,, @joesanfelippo Fall Creek Wisconsin, home of the Mighty Crickets

Become Unforgettable! The Power of Telling Your Story

Sometimes in public education, we’re allowing people who have no connection with schools, create and manage the narrative. The problem is this isn’t fair to our organizations, to our kids, our communities who work so hard to support. It’s not something we pay for, rather it’s something we invest in.

Today I shall behave is if this is the day I will be remembered. – Dr. Seuss

Core things:

  1. Being intentional about what we do
  2. Build Staff
  3. Open Doors

We tell the story as a team, we can’t do it all by ourselves. The more people we invest in, and develop trust within our classrooms and schools, the better we will become.

In the absence of knowledge, people make up their own.

This isn’t right, but there is a distinct difference between what is right and what is real. If we don’t change the story, we’re giving people the right to tell the story they want to. People tell only the story about what they see, which is never the whole story.

Be Intentional

This always always always starts with culture. Culture is built in 30 second increments. Joe asked us if we believe it’s possible. He had each of us stand six inches away from our neighbour, facing them, for 10 seconds. Imagine what a difference this makes with 30 seconds. Then he asked us to call or text someone who has made a difference in our lives and helped us to become the person we are, in 30 seconds. Therefore we reach the conclusion that yes, 30 seconds can make a difference, and in the course of the day, we have so many 30 second opportunities. What are we doing to build relationships? Does your team know that “you won’t drop them”?

Joe will sometimes send notes home to family members of staff, just to say thank you.

If people know your “why” and how it works, they will follow.

Open Doors

How do we tell the story about our organization? It’s not just words, but it’s pictures, and anything else that helps tell the story. Joe uses #gocrickets on everything. Every picture, every post, every item of clothing has this on it.

There are so many tools, but he finds out where his people are. For Joe’s district, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the places to be.

It’s okay to make a mistake when you are telling the story, as long as you’re telling the story often. If you only tell it once, you have a problem.

This is your opportunity to make people feel like rockstars. They are rockstars, but you need to tell the story, get it out there, and let the world know. You need to tell the story and set the narrative.

Joe did an incredible job encouraging everyone to make a difference. His style and energy was engaging and convincing. Though he is part of small district, his motivation impacts a great number of people. Would love to see Joe as another keynote again!


ISTE 2017 – Day Two

Okay, so I’m here in beautiful San Antonio, where it’s a little warm! Today it was over 30 degrees celsius – IN THE SHADE! Walk out of the shade and we were hitting 40 degrees. (News says it “feels like 45”) I am definitely not used to this kind of weather at all! But I cannot complain, just beautiful!

Had a chance to meet up with a good friend for breakfast! We decided to meet at IHOP, and then discovered it was an IHOP Express, in the mall. Not quite what we were looking for, so ended up at Denny’s.

WHOA! I forgot how big their portions are! I ordered a Sticky Bun Pancake Breakfast, and it came on TWO plates! Two LARGE plates! Ouch, I think it was enough for a whole day! Was a great visit catching up, and I was full by the end.

Then, back to the hotel to get some work done, catch up on e-mails, etc.

Around lunch time I headed out for a walk over to see the Alamo. It’s an important piece of history for Texas, and well worth the visit. Lots to see and do, and they have a James Bowie exhibit (Bowie Knife) After the Alamo, headed out to find some beach balls –  more on that later.

It was warm, and I don’t think I realized how warm it was, and suddenly I’m thirsty and hungry. Stopped for a quick chicken sandwich, a long drink, and some sitting in Air Conditioned comfort.

Walked over to the Convention Center, to help get setup for the afternoon and Saturday. As I’m walking by, I’m thinking “something has changed, it just doesn’t seem right”. Sure enough a large building is COMPLETELY MISSING! Last time I was in San Antonio, there was a massive building on the West side that had registration, and a bunch of conference rooms, and a massive keynote hall. It’s gone! The Convention Center has been renovated big time and now most of it is on the other side, and this side is completely empty.

I had a chance to walk around the site to familiarize myself with the layout, it’s completely different, since I’m going to be helping people find their way. Yup, the guy from Strathmore Alberta Canada, is going to be helping locals get to where they need to go. Life is funny!

Saw some great stuff, there are some pictures at the end with some of the setup and work in progress.

Met some long time friends and helped get ready for tomorrow’s Affiliate Summit, and then participated in an EdCamp. It was a great time, see my other blog posts.

Soon as this was over, we headed to Rosario’s for an Affiliate Presidents and Executive Directors dinner. This is a chance to catch up and learn from each other and the things that we do within our organization. The food was amazing, I don’t even know what I ordered, but thought I should try something different – it was exquisite. Had a great visit with my table mates, and learned a lot of great things. I should have taken some pictures inside the restaurant, but completely forgot. Only trouble is, it was so loud in the restaurant, you had to shout in order to be heard.

By the time supper was finished, another friend from Calgary, Jeff, had arrived, and we walked the Riverwalk, sat and had an Iced Tea while visiting. Still very warm outside, but an excellent day!

ISTE 2017 – Affiliate un-EdCamp-style

Started off at ISTE 2017 with a couple of hours of Affiliate EdCamp stuff. Friday afternoon is a great way to start off!

What is an EdCamp? A great way to get together and talk about things in an un-conference format. No set classes, no set presenters, but using sticky notes, figuring out what we’d all like to learn about and present.

Started with Dani Sloan (@daniksloan) to tell us about EdCamps!

Schedule could include a keynote. Generally includes two steps:

  1. What I would like to learn about?
  2. What I would like to facilitate?

Then develop the day around these two things!

What are the rules around EdCamp?

  • Has to be free
  • Participant driven
  • No presentations (no projectors)
  • “Rule of Two Feet” – If the session is not meeting your expectations, go to another session. Don’t waste your time. No one will be offended
  • Professional Networking
  • Opportunity to be an expert
  • Vendor Free

Organizing the Event

  • Location, Location, Location
  • Tweet, Tweet, Tweet
  • Get a team together
  • Sponsors
  • Planning – 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, week prior

What worked:

  • Keynote (engaging and free)
  • Sponsorship for lunch/breakfast
  • Admin Support
  • Hashtag
  • Advertising within districts
  • Invite pre-service teachers
  • Volunteers
  • Twitterfall projectors
  • Google Drive for notes

What they would change:

  • Get the word out earlier
  • Lots of no shows
  • More discussion / less presenting (comes with time)
  • Janitorial Support

So we broke up into two groups, chose two topics, and we spent about 20 minutes talking about the topic with the groups. Learned some amazing things about how people were preparing “Future Ready” leaders. Then we had a great opportunity to talk about sponsorship’s and partnerships within our organizations.

The time went by WAY to quickly! Thank you everyone who took the time to participate!

So far this has been a GREAT day! And it’s not over yet! More to come!

Session Notes from this session



ISTE 2017 – Bloggers Cafe

Holy Cow Batman! Most awesome Bloggers Cafe and PLN Lounge ISTE has ever put together! I know, I should wait until I have lots of stuff to talk about for the day, but this is so awesome, couldn’t wait!

The lounges are setup on the third level, just outside the Stars at Night Ballroom. And they are awesome! The tables have an #ISTE17 branded top with electric outlets and USB! Totally amazing! There are low tables, there are high tables, there are awesome block stools to sit on, wood chairs, or these dynamite couches. Perfect to quickly plug in, quickly charge, update your blog, chat with a few neighbours (Canadian spelling for those of you wondering), you name it. Looks like there will be some TVs setup too. Looks amazing, and incredibly helpful! Can tell you where you’re going to find me between sessions – rockin’ the awesome couch while updating my blog for my vast viewership. (Well, all four or five of you anyway!)

Check out these pictures – by the time things get started, they will be packed, and you’ll be jostling for a seat! Gotta run, things to do, people to see.



ISTE 2017 – Travel Day One

Hey everyone! Wow, has it really been months since I last updated my blog? Sorry, you must think I have such a boring life, and clearly have nothing to write about! Just the opposite! Life is so full, it’s hard to find time to do some writing! But here’s your chance to get updated on my random musings…

It’s ISTE Conference time of year! Yep, that one time of year when 13,000+ people who are involved in technology and education get together for a bunch of days of learning! I’m so excited! I get to come down a day early and spend time with other ISTE Affiliates, like ATLE, and share ideas, swap stories, and laugh, and learn! But you’ll hear more about that later!

So today started out a little earlier than I’m used to, up and out of bed by 5:30 AM. Had a 9 AM flight to Houston, and you know the drill – be at the airport 2 hours before departure, which means 7 AM, so I have to leave the house at 6 AM in order to get parked and everything. Today started out smooth – out of the house by 6 AM, got to the Park2Go by 6:45, at the airport by 6:55 AM. Looking great! Went to check in at the Air Canada kiosk – mere moments, had a great staffer who put the tag on my luggage – things are going well! Now onto the dreaded security line – maybe waited 2 minutes before I took of my shoes, belt, and put everything on the rollers. Whoa, quick! Next up – customs – be prepared to wait. NOT TODAY! Got through the customs kiosk and visit with agent in maybe another 2 or 3 minutes. Total time in the airport so far, maybe 10 minutes? Whoa! It’s 7:05 and I’m now waiting for my flight! Whoa! So cool! I think I just beat the crowds!

Stopped for breakfast, waited for my plane. With about 30 minutes to go before boarding, I head over to my gate, and there is no plane there. No worries. Then lo and behold, a TRACTOR pulls our plane up to the gate! Yep a for-real tractor. Not your normal funny little truck that pulls the airplane, a tractor. I’m thinking maybe our plane was just sitting somewhere overnight and they dragged it over to our gate.

So it’s been awhile since I flew Air Canada – not sure what to expect! Holy leg-room Batman, there was lots of space! I could’ve had my 15.6 inch Chromebook out and still have room for the tray! Sat next to a young guy going home to Peru – didn’t speak much English. I read a book. The flight was more than four hours long, and no snacks, just drinks. It was okay.

Arrived at Houston! Awesome airport! It’s big, but you can take a train from terminal to terminal, real easy to get around – got lots of steps in. Stopped for lunch at Hard Rock Cafe, and then sat and did e-mail, phone calls, and texts for a couple of hours, while waiting to board my United flight to San Antonio!

Well, there was less room on this flight – barely got my knees in behind the seat ahead of me! Mercifully it was a short – less than an hour flight!

And here I am now in San Antonio! It’s a little warm! So when I left my house, it was 8 degrees centigrade, and here in San Antonio – 39! Ouch! It is warm! Got to meet Kirk, first day as an Uber driver, who got me downtown to my hotel. Stepped out for a bite to eat, and now, ready for some sleep time!

Lots of things happening tomorrow, I’ll try and take more pictures and tell you all about it! Reminder to self – get some beach balls – ISTE Conference Keynote prep!