When I glanced at my airline ticket last night, I had a moment of shock as I realized my return home from ISTE 2017 was going to include a 12 hour layover in San Francisco. In the midst of my dismay, a friend quickly replied, "this will be great....it will give you time to reflect and write!" The original shock turned to gratitude as I realized this time was given to me as a gift. This extremely long layover would give me an opportunity to process the amazing week spent connecting with some of my closest friends in San Antonio, TX. Let me share with you some of the highlights:
Presenting with my #XPLAP (Explore Like a Pirate) Tribe!
Presenting for the first time at ISTE with four of my closest friends was an amazing experience. On Saturday, we facilitated a 3-hour workshop called 8-bit Engagement. In this workshop we shared how to create an immersive and transformative classroom experience by layering story and game mechanics over your curriculum to make it come to life! Educators came away with a game plan to begin their own gamified classroom adventures. It was awesome and I can't speak highly enough about the amazing educators that I had the honor to present with:
Michael Matera: Author of book Explore Like a Pirate and 6th grade World History teacher
Carrie Baughcum: gamified special education teacher & sketchnoter extraordinare
Nick Davis: gamified genius hour and science teacher
Adam Bold: gamified science, social studies, and genius hour teacher
Though we all live in different places, these educators have been an incredible support, encouragement, and source of inspiration to me. To come together to present, learn, and play was amazing. It truly is special how five friends who rarely connect face to face can be such an important part of each other's life. Wonderful memories made this week with a very special crew!
Hangin' with my Girl, #booksnaps Queen, and my REAL Soul Sister, Tara Martin!
Once in a blue moon, a person is placed in your life that "gets you" at all levels. A friend that understands and shares similar passions, dreams, and journey; one that you feel like you've known your entire life. Tara Martin is this kind of a friend to me. We connected on Twitter, became friends on Google Hangout and Voxer, and finally met face to face at ISTE 2017. It was so incredible to see her connect and share her edu-awesomeness with hundreds of people with a REALNESS that is one-of-a-kind. It was an honor to watch her give her first Ignite speech in front of an audience of over 500 and she CRUSHED it! This girl is as genuine as they come. I learned so much from her this week that I would have never found in any session. Sisters for life!
Meeting author of Gamify Literacy & seeing it on the ISTE shelf!
This past year I had the honor of contributing a chapter to the book, Gamify Literacy, by author Michele Haiken. To see this book on the ISTE shelf and to meet Michele Haiken in person was a true highlight to my experience! To make it even better my dear friend, Carrie Baughcum (pictured bottom left), contributed a chapter too! Special thanks to Michele Haiken for giving me this amazing opportunity to share my story of how gamification has transformed my classroom and renewed my passion for teaching!
Surprise Run-ins with DBC authors!
I am a huge fan of books published by Dave and Shelley Burgess because they are inspiring, full of rich content and ideas, and written by educators who are passionate and speak from experience in the classroom. What makes me love these books even more is that the authors that I have met face to face are genuine, generous, and kind. My first session on Monday was called Social LEADia: Empowering Students to be Digital Leaders by author, Jennifer Casa-Todd, of the recently published book by DBC, Social LEADia. This session opened your eyes to the power of social media to get kids connected and equip them to be digital leaders. Powerful and inspiring! It was an exciting surprise for author of Ditch that Textbook, Matt Miller, to sit next to me and sketchnote the session. I'm glad he created such an awesome sketchnote, because I was so intrigued by his, that I neglected to create my own! If you haven't read his book, you are missing out! It is chock full of amazing ideas and inspiration! It will shift your mindsets about education to transform your classroom into one that empowers!
As an additional bonus, I had the pleasure of joining the #ditchbook fam for lunch! What a powerhouse of amazing educators! I was honored to be in their presence and grateful for the opportunity to hang with them for a bit!
Another exciting surprise was running into Aaron Hogan; author of the recently published DBC book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. I love how genuinely kind he is and I quickly picked up on his passion for all educators to THRIVE! I'm only two chapters in on my 12 hour layover and I'm hooked! A must read!
Meeting #xplap Family Members
It was super fun to meet so many from the #xplap Twitter family face to face this week at our informal gatherings in the PLN Lounge and Blogger's Cafe. Loved chatting gamification and playing games with these passionate peeps! Lots of laughter & memories made! Love our growing #XPLAP family!
Meals with Friends!
I find the best learning comes from the informal meet-ups, especially when they involve food! I loved all of the meals spent with friends and learned so much! Special shout-out to Papa Fritz for the amazing breakfast tacos and belly laughs!
Mind Blowing Keynote!
Tuesday's Keynote speaker, Jennie Magiera, blew my mind! She did an unbelievable job of presenting an incredibly inspiring message that had the entire crowd giving her a standing ovation at it's conclusion. This slide had me in tears....
This simple, yet powerful call to action gave me the extra boost of courage I needed to take the next steps in telling my story. We all have a story to share and if we don't share it, who will?
This slide was really what got the tears flowing. We need to stop trying to tell someone else's story and tell our own. What we do may seem ordinary to us, but to someone else it may be amazing and the catalyst to something transformational in someone else's journey. Too often we compare ourselves to others, when what the world needs is us to be our truest self. Powerful stuff and a message that resonated deeply for me.
The beauty of being a connected educator is that I have tribes of educators from all over the world that I can look to for continued inspiration and support through Twitter, Voxer, and Google Hangouts on a regular basis. This week I had the opportunity to connect some of my favorite educators together. My good friend and local peep, Heather Marrs, was able to meet my #xplap crew. It made me so happy to see Midwestern and Pacific Northwest worlds colliding. Heather is a powerful edurockstar who is a powerhouse of innovation. So thankful to have Heather as a nearby source of inspiration and support.....someone who "gets me". It is a special gift to have a friend like her in my life!
Rodney Turner and Tara Martin may be two of the best connectors of people I know. Rodney has made a significant impact on my journey as a connected educator by helping me find my tribe back in November of 2014 at Miami Device. My journey of being a connected educator has been a wild adventure and one that I am extremely grateful for. While hanging with my good friend, Tara, this week I witnessed another connector in action. These two have a genuine kindness and love for people that truly is awe-inspiring. I'm very grateful for these two and what they've taught me about the beauty and power of connecting. We truly are all better together!
I'm finishing this blog post with 4 more hours to go of my layover before I head home. Though I can't wait to get home and hug my family, I am thankful for this time to reflect on an amazing week of connecting with my Professional Learning Family. Of all the many memories and learning that happened at ISTE 2017, the most poignant take away I'm coming home with is this..... Being a connected educator has brought into my life a family that is close and dear to my heart. My Professional Learning Family gathered in San Antonio this week. It's hard to explain how much these people have changed me. Aaron Hogan said it best in this tweet he posted today on Twitter.....
Thank you to all the amazing educators I connected with this week! You have changed my life. Until we meet again face to face.....I'll see you in the Twittersphere!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.