Monday, July 4, 2016

SIT - Students Involved with Technology - An Ed Tech Conference By Kids For Kids

The BigTime Literacy Blogging Challenge has forced me to go back, and look at the posts that I have in DRAFT, and hopefully finish them. Here is one that was definitely worth finishing and worth your time to read.

How did you build this robot?

The SIT Conference was AMAZING!
+Berwyn South District 100 hosted the SIT Conference. The SIT Conference is an ed tech conference by kids for kids. The students are the presenters and the attendees. That's what makes it unique. There are 6 sites across the state of Illinois. We hosted 230 students and 30 adult volunteers. Students submitted presentation proposals in January. We had 41 students brave enough to present on a topic that they were passionate about. These students stood up alone or in groups of up to 3 and presented to their peers. The sessions covered a wide variety of topics from writing a blog, or using a math app called Prodigy, to coding and robotics. There were 6 break out style sessions and some kids even offered to present twice. Kids 8 to 18 had to keep the audience's attention for 25 minutes! 

@Natalier852 presenting on Touchcast app. She is amazing! 
Answering questions from the crowd

It was one of the best days of my 26 year teaching career.

All about coding!
The committee worked hard to make sure every student had a good experience.  My job was to touch base with the Berwyn South students a few days before the conference to make sure that their presentations were ready.  As you can expect there was a wide variety in their comfort level. I had some students texting me, and emailing me the night before with last minute questions. I loved the commitment that they showed to making their presentation the best it could be!
One of our youngest presenters!

We prepped for the conference Thursday night with a meeting of the committee. On Friday night we put up the signs and prepared the rooms. On Saturday morning we got there early to make sure everything was ready to go. 
Freedom Middle School students presenting on coding Dash & Dot

Our keynote speakers were
Mitchell Brown and Scotty Vrablik, creators of Clean Minecraft Videos, both 8th graders. They explained how they set out to solve the problem of too much inappropriate language in Minecraft videos on the web. They created their own app and their own site. They now curate minecraft videos from all over the web. Their story was inspiring.
This is a perfect example of what we want kids to do all the time - solve problems, think globally, share with the world! 


Listening intently to our keynoters

The breakout sessions started and I went to check on all the presenters. It was great to see rooms full of kids all listening intently to their peers present. We put an adult volunteer in each room as a monitor. They were hardly needed. The room monitors dealt with some technical difficulties, and they were the time keepers. The room also had the student's adult sponsor. Each child needs a sponsor to attend. 

8 y/o presenters! So proud of them!
During lunch the students were engaged with each other and their devices. We found 1 student taking pics of his lunch in order to make a stop motion video later! Genius! And as you can see from the picture below, they were all still acting like kids too! 

We set up a green screen room and a maker space for students who had some down time or were interested in creating. They did some amazing things. We had Osmo, Makey Makey, Color Alive (augmented reality), and Sphero in the Maker room. We had Play-Doh, Legos and two green screens in the Green Screen room. There was a Splinker room and a Breakout Edu room too!

Green Screening
Makey, Makey

Sink & float - has to be just right!

Breakout Edu

Finally, thanks to our generous sponsors almost every child walked away with something. We were able to give away 40 Google Cardboards due to the generosity of one of our parents who also happens to work for Google Chicago. 

Google Cardboard
So many choices for prizes!

Our big winner received a drone

If you live in Illinois and are interested in bring the SIT conference to your district go to the website for more information. This conference is organized by Illinois State University, Heartland College, and State Farm Insurance. This model could be done anywhere.

 A few more pictures from the day. 

5th grade presenters! 

Me Periscoping and my colleague Michelle Tweeting


  1. I am VERY interested in your conference. My organization hosts an annual conference where we include students in a poster session but the idea of kids sharing with kids is so much more fun and engaging! Thanks for sharing...I'll be in touch.

  2. What an amazing conference. Words don't do it justice. Experiencing SIT brings it to life. Thank you for hosting and making it happen for the students near Berwyn.