ISTE 2013 Roundup – Student Leadership, Hard Fun, and More!

ISTE 2012 – GenYES students discuss education with the Malaysian Minister of Education

We are looking forward to another fantastic ISTE – the grandmother of all education technology conferences. This year ISTE will be in San Antonio, Texas June 23-26th, 2013. Generation YES will be there in force (meaning kids!) GenYES students from local San Antonio schools will be showcasing their teacher support projects in our booth on the exhibit floor, so please put booth 12226 in your schedule as a MUST VISIT!

A Big Announcement… Coming Soon We will be demoing our latest improvements to the GenYES suite of online tools and student leadership curriculum – more on that shortly.

Two MUST DO events to add to your schedule

Invent to Learn @ISTE 2013

Join me (Sylvia Martinez) and Gary Stager for an energizing day of “hard fun” as we invent, tinker, and learn how to incorporate hands-on project-based learning in the classroom. Participants will engage in a variety of projects using modern tools and technology – the perfect way to get ready for ISTE.  Sunday, June 23rd from 9AM-3PM.

Breakfast, lunch, and drinks are all part of the day at a great location right on the Riverwalk with easy, walkable access from all the ISTE hotels.

Also included is your very own copy of our new book – Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Click here for details and registration information for Invent To Learn @ ISTE 2013.

Spotlight Session

Tinkering + Technology = Authentic Learning. Combine tinkering and technology and you have a time-honored tradition that allows imagination and creativity to lead the way to real-world problem-solving and learning. Sylvia Martinez

  • Tuesday, 6/25/2013, 2:00pm–3:00pm, SACC 001A
  • Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Problem Solving & Critical Thinking



Tips for student presenters at conferences

It’s educational technology conference time of year! There are so many educational conferences that you could literally attend 24/7. Hopefully some of you are taking students along with you to share their work.

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing students step up and hit a home run when presenting, and there’s nothing more excruciating than watching the slow-motion train wreck of a bad presentation by young people who are clearly unprepared or uninterested.

Here are some tips to have the “home run” presenting experience instead of the “train wreck”! (By the way, authentic student voice doesn’t mean they don’t need adult help.)

Ten Tips for Coaching Student Presenters

  1. Make it personal. Have each student tell their own story from their own perspective. It will be more engaging than a generic presentation of what the whole group did.
  2. KISS. Edit down to the essentials. As you practice, help them edit their story down to the essential points. Stick to a 5 minute rule – no one person should talk for more than 5 minutes at a time. Break up the presentation with videos or demonstrations.
  3. Practice, but not too much. Practice out loud in front of other students or teachers if possible. Try not to over-practice; it will sound forced and boring.
  4. Memorize the opening line. Practice the first line until they can do it in their sleep.
  5. Don’t use a script. Even a memorized script will sound stilted.
  6. Try it without notes. It’s a crutch that can be more of a distraction than a help.
  7. Look at the audience, not the screen. Don’t stare at or read from the screen, it disconnects the speaker from the audience.
  8. Timing is everything. Agree on a “secret signal” that means wrap it up. Practice this so they learn to complete a thought without stopping mid-sentence. Explain that you will interrupt their presentation if they go on too long.
  9. Audiences may behave badly. One very odd thing about conferences is that people may get up and leave in the middle of a session. This is normal – don’t take it personally. Be sure to warn students.
  10. Be authentic. Some people are serious, some are born game show hosts. Let them be who they are, use their own words, and show their own personalities.
  11. Rules are made to be broken. If you have one (or more!) exceptionally articulate students, give them more time, but make sure they can stick to the essential message of the presentation.

For more tips, check out this PDF – Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences (PDF). It also covers:

  • Balancing the needs of the audience with the needs of students
  • Research on student voice, 21st Century skills and student empowerment
  • How to plan and submit sessions with student presenters
  • Maintaining student ownership and authentic student voice
  • Logistics tips for bigger conferences and exhibit halls
  • The role of the teacher

Let’s get out there and share!


See you in San Diego? ISTE 2012

Generation YES will be at ISTE June 24-27, 2012 in San Diego. If you are there, be sure to come by and say hi! We will have a special version of Angry Birds for you to play and win fun prizes – find us in the exhibit hall in booth #5301.

Please add these sessions to your schedule planner:

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: We Need More PD!” and Other Myths about Technology Integration Monday, 6/25/2012, 4:15pm–5:15pm, SDCC 4

Sylvia Martinez, Generation YES  – The days of “sit and get” professional development are over–but what will take its place? Learn new ways to enable classroom-based professional learning.  Recommended by ISTE’s SIGAdmin

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Engage, Retain, and Thrive–Getting Girls into Technology Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 5:00pm–6:15pm, SDCC 30AB

Melinda Kolk, Creative Educator with Sylvia Martinez  – The session will explore ideas and successful strategies for getting girls interested in technology through the upper grades and into creative and technical technology careers.

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: The Best Educational Ideas in the World–25th Anniversary Edition Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 10:30am–11:30am, SDCC 6E

Gary Stager, Constructivist ConsortiumClimb aboard a voyage of discovery to the best educational ideas in the world, and learn how these powerful concepts can supercharge learning with computers.

PANEL: Technology in Developing Countries Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 3:45pm–4:45pm,  SDCC 5 School Improvement : Educational Visions

Clare Strawn, ISTE with Paulette Assaf, Mary Burns, Dennis Harper and Jodi Lis – Internet possibly not available. Erratic electricity. Learn from this panel how tenacity and passion bring creative solutions to meet these challenges to introduce 21st century skills in developing countries.

BETT 2012

I’m heading to London this week to take part in the BETT 2012 conference in London. This is the largest educational technology conference in the world and I’ve been wanting to check it out for years!

I’m presenting a session on Friday – Tinkering: A New Model of ICT and STEM Learning

Yes, I know it says “new” – but it’s not. Poetic license, I guess I was worried that things have to sound new to get any notice. However, I’m hopefully presenting a new look at old-fashioned learning. I’m combining some of my existing resources about tinkering and playful learning with some new ideas about the role of gender, the danger of looking at science only through the lens of the “scientific method”, and the synergy between art and science.

Be back next week!


Educon 2.3 – a new kind of education conference

Next weekend in Philadelphia will be the fourth annual Educon conference. I’m happy to say I’ve been to all of them so far, and it’s grown into one of my favorites of the year.

There are several things I love about Educon:

  • It’s small. Capped at 500 people, it’s intimate enough that you get a “sense” of what people are thinking and the shifts occurring in real time.
  • Authenticity gives it voice and shape. Held at the Science Leadership Academy, a public magnet school with a progressive philosophy in the center of Philadelphia, the vibrancy of the school (both from teachers and students) shines through the event.
  • It’s not a trade show. So many educational conferences, even the ones with academic roots, have morphed into what Gary Stager calls “boat shows.” The focus on sales creates a different kind of atmosphere. Educon is about educators thinking out loud together without the carnival barkers.
  • Conversations, not sessions. At most conferences, people always wonder why discussions of new ways to teach and learn are held in old style lecture halls, and the interesting conversations are the ones in the hall. Educon has tried to bring those conversations to the forefront.
  • It’s centered in practice. Being in a school is not just about the building. The teachers and students are full participants in the conference and model collaboration, non-coercive learning and empowerment throughout. You can tell it’s what they do on a regular basis and it raises the bar for everyone.

I’m leading a conversation this year about gaming in education, “If Games are the Answer, What’s the Question?” Games in education are a hot topic these days, with all the usual mix of reality and hype that goes along with that. I definitely have strong opinions (which I’ll share) – but not the whole time. I hope to have a lively discussion where we’ll look at some games and talk about what makes them “good” for learning or not. Ultimately, perhaps we can come to some conclusions about what to look for in games for different subjects and classrooms.

I’d appreciate any input here or on the Educon page for this session about any particular games that people are curious about and want to discuss. I’ll try to have some screen shots prepared since there really won’t be time to download and play a lot of games AND have a discussion.

If you are coming to this session in person or via the live web streaming, please come with a downloaded game to share, or post suggestions here.


Previous posts about Educon

Learning @ School – Keynote

I’m excited to be heading off to New Zealand next month to keynote the Learning@School 2011 conference in Rotorua (Feb 23-25). It looks like a wonderful conference, with some really interesting themes and strands.

I’ll be talking about student leadership and empowerment – and the way we can structure learning environments to offer those opportunities. Putting students into positions of responsibility for what and how other people learn teaches them that what they do matters, and gives them new insight into how they (and others learn.)

People always say, “you learn so much by teaching” – so why not have students learn AND teach. Combining this with technology, for which students today have a natural instinct and interest,  just makes sense. Students can teach other students, teach teachers, support technology professional development, help with technical set up and support, and much more. It creates natural collaboration opportunities, provides challenges at many levels, and is really useful. Giving students this kind of responsibility creates a win-win situation where students are valued for their expertise and hard work – real, needed work!

I’ll also do a follow up session to talk about the “how tos” of student technology leadership programs, and then another one about games in education.

I also hope to get some time visiting the famous geysers, boiling mud pools and thermal springs of Rotorua!


Constructionism 2010

I’ll be in Paris, France for the next week to attend Constructionism 2010 at the University of Paris. Constructionism 2010 is a reincarnation of Eurologo, and the name change refelects the myriad of opportunities that exist today for using technology to express the educational philosophy of constructionism.

I’m looking forward to linking the learning from Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010 last month to Constructionism 2010. Seminal people in constructionism will be there, including Idit Harel, Cynthia Solomon, Gary Stager, Jose Valente, and Brian Harvey. Of course, this list is completely personal (and geographically biased!). But that’s how learning happens, you connect one idea to the next, one person to the next, building and constructing knowledge as you go. I look forward to adding more people and expanding my learning and my network.

I always think I’m going to blog while I’m on the road, but it rarely happens, so no promises. But I’ll have lots to share when I return.


Update on Maine Learning Technology Initiative

The post Students raising funds and technology awareness in Maine got a lot of comments and interest on this blog. Here’s an update from one of the participants:

First of all, our students are committed to this project! All of our students in Wells, Maine, had to get out of bed and to the school bus by 5:15 AM for the 3 hour bus ride to Orono. They all had planned their presentations with their teachers and then practiced for 2 weeks. Once at the University, they all attended the opening session, then walked quickly across campus to a variety of classrooms and within 10 minutes they were on stage, confident and presenting to students and teachers from around the state.

read more at: Tech Learning TL Advisor Blog and Ed Tech Ticker Blogs from TL Blog Staff –

Hope we see more from these motivated students!


Free technology and education conference – C3 2010

CRSTE logoThe Capitol Region ISTE affiliate (CRSTE) is hosting a free online conference on education and technology called C3 – CRSTE Cyber Conference 2010 every evening from Feb 21 – March 5, 2010 . You don’t have to be from the mid-Atlantic region (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, DC, West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware) to participate in this conference, and you don’t even have to show up!

The conference is a combination of asynchronous and synchronous events, and everything will be archived so you can check back in at any time. I was honored to be asked to participate and I’ll be presenting a session live.

Student Leadership ‐ Building Authentic 21st Century Skills
Date: February 27, 2010 Saturday
Time: 5:00 PM EST

Session Description:  This session will present 4 models of student leadership focused on improving technology integration in real schools around the world. Having tech-savvy students help solve the authentic problems of 21st century education builds future leaders, learners, and citizens.

You can download the conference schedule here (PDF)

To register for the conference, you simply check off the sessions you are interested in. Online conferences are great ways to participate without a huge committment of time or money! And yes, although the sessions will be permanently archived, it’s more fun to be in the “action” online. You’ll be able to chat and interact as the session goes on.

Hope you’ll stop by!


Tinkering Towards Educon

I’ll be heading to Philadelphia later this month for the Educon conference. This is a terrific small conference held at the Science Leadership Academy about education and change. Educon is famous for having “conversations” not “presentations.” This means that the wisdom of the crowd gets shared as we explore one topic in depth.

This year I’m leading a conversation on Tinkering Towards Technology Fluency

Conversation Description: Tinkering is a time-honored educational practice, focusing on a learner exploring a subject or problem without clear goals or time constraints, using objects or tools at hand, driven by passion and curiosity. Seymour Papert used the word, “bricolage” to describe a way to solve problems by trying things out, testing, playing, and trying again. This stands in direct contract to the way we teach students to use analytical methods (such as the scientific method) to solve problems. Current digital tools would seem to support this method of learning, with the rapid ability to build first drafts and easy to use editing tools. When mistakes and prototypes were expensive and time consuming, it certainly made sense to carefully plan your attack on a problem. However, this is no longer the case. In industry, the methodology of production planning has been revolutionized by rapid design tools. Accepted practices of design and planning have completely changed over the past 25 years, with linear “waterfall” planning completely replaced by new “spiral” design methodologies, especially in the design of digital products.

Beginning questions for the conversation are:  How can tinkering influence our understanding of technology literacy as a set of skills to be mastered? How might this influence classroom practice when teaching analytical problem solving in any subject? How can tinkering fit in today’s structured classroom environment? How does a teacher maintain a schedule and series of learning objectives that result in learning, not just fooling around? Is anything a student does tinkering? What role does judgement and content knowledge play in tinkering?

If you are considering attending Educon, I hope you join the conversation!

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