ISTE Reflections 2015



Moments before the opening keynote



ISTE-The conference of “conferences” that allows innovators to meet the implementation leaders.  This was my first time attending and I was not disappointed.  ISTE will give one the feeling of always missing out and never quite hitting the mark.  This is due to the many conversations occurring during the multiple breakout sessions.  I felt this pulse of conversation in the air as I walked about many of the collaborative areas.  For me personally, it had the great college commons feel. There are so many things going on at one time that ISTE offers up a buffet of enriching and learning jump off points!


A few quick nuggets of reflection as I process the experience of the last few days.

Out time has arrived!

We live in the best time ever for teaching and learning.  Our work as educators has some of the most incredible tools to elevate engagement and expand the  ability of students to learn from others in the world.  Now is the time to learn from others more than ever!  We have known of the tools, but have we all taken the next step to fully harness the power that the tools give us.  Now is the time to reach out to others and learn from their successes.  For a long time we have all know of the tools of collaboration such as twitter.  I know of many folks who use this tool but it is very much on the surface and not in depth in enriching ways. They are not harnessing the power of the connected world.  I would include myself in this group.  By writing this blog post, I am putting myself out there by pushing myself to fully take the first step in hope of increasing my own professional learning network.  I have goals this year of digging deeper into looking at how space and structure determine learning opportunities  and thus impact outcomes.  Pictured below are some of the great folks I have recently connected or re-connected with at ISTE 2015.

ISTE 2015 Speaker on Learning Spaces

Lisa Domeier and Chad Smith discuss Transformational Design for Learning Spaces at the conclusion of her Monday interactive lecture at ISTE Philadelphia 2015.


George Couros and Chad Smith after his early session at ISTE 2015


SATCHAT host Brad Currie and I catch a quick minute

 We need to look different at implementation models

I have noted many speakers, myself included, stating the importance and need of educators using tools of collaboration and allowing students to fully utilize technology.  I have heard this same conversation in education for a few years.

We can learn a bit from history on how this may look for implementation models that have been whole school successful.  For example, email was at one time new to school.  But schools were able to move everyone over to regular use of email at the same time.  This was a whole school communication change.  Something for one to  ponder and learn from in regards to  implementation challenges.

Keep our eyes on the prize

There are many models of allowing kids to have a seemingly more personalized experience in their learning.  Just at this conference I hear of Project Based Learning, Genius Hours, Problem based learning, Inquiry Learning, and Customized experiences.  Many sessions and speakers talk about what the process of these models include.  As I reflect, we have to keep our eyes on the prize which is the student and walk in their shoes in this model.  The teacher-student relationship and the day to day building of experiences with high level rigor is the most important element. We can’t get caught up in the structure of PBL or am I doing  the Genius Hour correctly.

@danlayton2 and I celebrating a great of learning

@danlayton2 and I celebrating a great week of learning

Take the step

Some say be a risk taker, others may call it being brave.  We are talking about taking the next step in growing and learning  that harnessing the power of the tools of the day.  For me personally, this means being a disciplined writer (thus this blog).  We need to model writing for our kids.  It is my hope that someone will read this, comment or follow up and offer up ideas or discussion that grow me as a professional.  What an opportunity missed if I don’t try to take advantage of this!! We don’t know what we don’t know, right?

Take the step!

Be like the Best

Duke has a great basketball program that is the envy of many.  Let’s say you are running a major college basketball program.  You can never be Duke.  But, if you start to mimic and model successful principles from the Duke program, you start to become more like Duke each day.  So, in this effort, you become more like Duke.

I want to take this analogy and continue to mimic and model ideals from successful schools. One such is the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  

 Stay inspired!

I attended TEDx Indy last Fall.  It was so inspiring to hear the stories of folks have given back to make their world a better place.

Please add to discussion here at The Crossroads!!

TEDx Indy from October 2014

ISTE inspired me in similar ways.  I want to keep this momentum of inspiration going!  My PLN can help me with this, so your words of affirmation are needed.  As a father of five, school leader of 850 and working farmer of 20 acres with livestock, i’m busy!  But in writing I find the ability to celebrate the things that excite me most in life and who doesn’t want this! So, keep me inspired and please share your writing with me!

Special thank you to Pernille Ripp and Erin Klein for their great session on helping students find their voice.   It was great to connect with Ditch that Textbook author and blogger Matt Miller.  Lisa Domeier shared a simply riveting session on Design in Learning spaces.  This session gave me many great ideas to bring home.

Thank you #ISTE2015


  • Hi Chad

    Thanks for sharing your ISTE 2015 reflections. I’ve attended ISTE four times and participated in ISTE remotely as part of #NotAtISTE twice. Reflections like yours are important for those like myself who can’t attend but want to learn from a conference.

    Gwynenth Jones wrote a great post on educational trends that I think provides good advice for keeping our eye on the prize –

    Regarding taking the step and writing. I strongly believe in encouraging voice but accepting that voice can be very individualized. We each have our own preferences and should provide wide range of opportunities for students (and our staff).

    Even though I’m well known as a blogger, those who know my blogging story, know it was a challenge. I struggle with language and words. However, through blogging I’ve become a better writer and blogging is my preferred way of reflecting.

    But I’m aware that for some voice or video is what works for them. This is why I encourage educators to include a wide range of online tools when blogging with students. Mixing it up and encouraging them to embed the rich media within their posts lets them achieve their voice using their own preference while also helping them with their writing skills.

    Also worth adding that while ISTE is finished we can continue to learn as part of #NotAtISTE thanks to how ISTE encourages presenters to share their resources on their conference web site and thanks to participants who continue to share their work.

    Have a great summer break! (Sorry for long comment 🙁 )

    Sue Waters
    Support Manager
    Edublogs | CampusPress

    • Sue,
      I really appreciate your note, thank you! Writing allows me to revisit the moment and for that it is well worth it! Your advice and words mean much to me, thank you!

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