Thursday, July 7, 2016

iEngage-Berwyn 2016

After months of planning we once again hosted the 2nd annual iEngage-Berwyn. It was held on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30, 2016. It took months of planning. It comes and goes so fast after all that planning that I really tried to enjoy it this year. I am in charge of sponsorship for the event. We had more sponsors than we did last year and we brought in more sponsorship dollars and more prizes. I have learned a lot about the way these things work over the last 2 years. I need to modify the letter we use and rework some of the sponsorship levels for next year. It really is all about relationships. I have developed some good relationships with our vendors now.

Friday started with +Jordan Garrett , my team leader, giving an overview of Berwyn South. She told our story; how we got to where we are and where we hope to go in the future. Next we loaded the buses to go for the school tours. I was giving the tour of Komensky this year. I spent a lot of time at Komensky this year, so I was very happy to be there for iEngage. Truth be told, I am proud of what is going on in all 8 of our schools and would do the tour for any of them! The team, +Maria Lopez and +Ryan Kozin and I, told Komensky's story quickly. We concentrated on talking about Genius Hour and how it helped increase the positive culture of their school community. 

We went back to LaVergne Education Center (our district office site) to be inspired by +Sabba Quidwai at the lunchtime keynote. Sabba told her story and talked about design thinking. It was great to have her talk about design thinking because we are going to use it as the basis of our Maker/PBL curriculum moving forward. Click here to watch Sabba's keynote.

Love this quote - Why talk about others when we can talk with others. 

After lunch we went back for more site visits. During the site visit portion we show our visitors 1:1 in action. Many districts or teachers are still in the beginning of their technology journey, and they are looking for guidance and inspiration. When we walk around to the different classrooms it is wonderful to see all the teaching and learning going on in our classrooms. We used Twitter as our back channel. If any of our visitors had any questions that they needed answered or in more detail they could Tweet at us. At the end we had a debriefing panel, a question and answer session. I was lucky enough to sit on the panel with some of my amazing colleagues. Click here to see the closing session on Friday. 

The gentleman on the end is one of my former 4th gr
students now a principal in our district.
On Friday evening we went to dinner with +George Couros who was our closing keynote on day two. It was great to get to know George better. He really pushed my thinking on where SAMR fits in our schools. His stance is that an app or assignment that we may label as substitution on the SAMR ladder could actually redefine a students entire school experience. It could be totally transformational for that child. This is a very interesting way of looking at things. It is true, but I still feel like Dr. Puntedura's research still makes sense to me as well and that all students can benefit if we keep shooting for redefinition in our classrooms. We also talked about the use of SnapChat in education. George loved my Chicago accent so much and the way that I say SnapChat that he gave me that nickname. George also razzed me a lot about my love for the Chicago Cubs.

Saturday was the traditional break out session conference. I started the day bright and early by making sure everything was set up properly in the exhibit hall. This year we interspersed our student poster sessions with our vendor booths in order drive more traffic toward the vendors. Our guests started the day with a motivational keynote by +Jennie Magiera

Jennie talked about what it takes to be a change agent in your school or school system. This quote stuck with me about being a change leader - "Instruction is paramount to change in educational systems." Meaning it is not about the apps or the device. In fact I have always said that if you put a device in the hands of a bad teacher it only magnifies the problems. This is why all professional development should be structured around curricular areas not around app names. Click here to see Jennie's keynote.

Leadership Panel

I did not go to a the first session. Instead I had to check on the vendors and make sure other things were being taken care of. I presented in the second session. My session was called iPad 101: What's Your One Screen? The theory is that you could have 15- 20 cross curricular apps to run your entire classroom. You can use them for any subject. Some are content creation apps, some are assessment apps, your LMS, a work flow app (Notability, and/or Evernote), and 1 math drill app and 1 ELA drill app. We had lunch and then a leadership panel lead by Dr. Rich Voltz (@rvoltz), the Associate Director for the Illinois Association of School Administrators. Next was the third and final break out session, which included Breakout Edu. If you haven't heard or it click on the link. It is definitely worth trying in your classroom in the upcoming school year.

We have a great partnership with myOn, a digital reading platform. We had a video contest for our students and any others that use the myOn platform. The theme this year was "In my dreams I'm...". Students created videos based on books that read on the myOn platform that went with the theme. Once again we had some great submissions. Here is a picture of one of the winner's accepting his $100 Visa gift card. His teacher got a set of class books! Thank you myON. 

The always passionate - George Couros

Finally, it was time for George Couros's closing keynote. George was amazing and a great way to close the conference. If you have not read George's Book - Innovator's Mindset, you should put it on your summer shelfie. 

The exhibition hall (or multipurpose room) had vendors, student poster presentations and teachers poster presentations. The poster presentations showcased some of the outstanding projects that teachers, and students had completed during the school year.

Here are some additional pictures from the event! It could not have been the success that it was without the help and hard work from everyone involved: teachers, administrators, iLead team, bus drivers, lunch room staff, administrative assistants, clerks, custodial and maintenance staff, students and teachers. It is a true team effort for our entire district. I mentioned teachers twice on purpose.

Our greatest resource - Our student volunteers
The iLead Team - They made it happen!

Our very lean but very talented Tech Department staff  - We couldn't have done it without your talent and expertise!


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