The "Best Part of ISTE": The Preshow Unconference | ISTE 2015

The Saturday before ISTE is really the best part, says Elissa Malespina. Between the annual unconference Hack Education (#hacked15) and this year’s Mobile Megashare, it was a great day of connecting and learning from leaders in the field.
ISTE-pregame-RulesIn my opinion, the Saturday before ISTE is really the best part of the conference. Between the annual unconference Hack Education (#hacked15) and this year’s Mobile Megashare, it was a great day of connecting and learning from  leaders in the field. Steve Hargadon has helped to organize the Hacked unconference at ISTE, for the last nine years. What makes it different than the traditional Edcamp? Instead of conducting every session suggested by a participant, people make suggestions on what they want to talk about,  then everyone goes around and votes by placing  dots or tally marks the sessions  that they want to attend. The organizers then build a program around the most popular topics, ensuring that the most popular topics don’t run at the same time. The rules of hacked are simple but powerful. The rule of 20 means that if more than 20 people are interested in a topic; split up into two groups so that the conversation can flow better. ISTE-pregame-hastagpost2What I personally love about hacked is that a director of technology can be sitting discussing a given topic with a group of teachers, college professors, librarians, and software developers and everyone is learning from each other, through a rich and engaging conversation. Visit the Hack Education  wiki to see  the list of session topics  plus accompanying  resources. The second big event of the day, was Moblie Megashare put on by the ISTE Mobile Learning Network. In this event, people can go from table to table to listen to different presentations. I choose to spend most of my time at two sessions. The first,”Robots, Coding and Creativity,” lead by Laura Briggs and Teresa Grzec, was a very interesting discussion on how introducing these tools  to students can lead to their creativity shining. Laura and Teresa spent some time talking about Lego StoryStarter Kits and how they use them in the elementary classrooms to get student writing. ISTE-pregame-hastagpostGrzec has students make stories with the kits and then the students use the iPad to take pictures of their story and then they use the Puppet Pal HD app to build a story on the iPad. She suggests having the students work in groups of threesone has to make up the beginning of the story, one has to make the middle, and one has to do the end of the story. Grzec gives the students 30 minutes of build time to figure out what their story is, and then 30 minutes to write the story. Grzec and Briggs both commented on how helpful these kits have been to engage their ELA and special education students. The other session I attended was “Augment Your Reality!” lead by Katrina Keena, which was described  as including “toys for all ages that involve tangible play, virtual reality, computer science, and more. Bring innovation and creativity to your classroom wow your fellow teachers and students.”It did not disappoint. What  I loved about this session is that not only did we see augmented reality in action, but we also got to hear how people are  using it their classrooms and libraries. One of my favorite ideas was how a school has made the inspirational quotes on their walls augmented. When people scan the quote with the Daqri app, a video or Web page appears that enables students to  learn more about the person who said the quote. How brilliant is that! ISTE-pregame-attheTablejpg Drew Minock and Brad Waid from the “Two Guys and Some iPads” blog also stopped by to  present some really cool ways that Daqri is infusing augmented reality into education. Check out their blog for more information. Overall, it is was an amazing day of learning and sharing, all free of charge. I highly recommend coming to ISTE early. You will not regret it.

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