Carpe ISTE: Sessions, Socializing, and The Food Scene

With more than 1,000 official sessions and countless events and opportunities to meet up at ISTE 2015, you will experience FOMO (fear of missing out), but resist the urge to overload your schedule.

The most valuable learning I’ve experienced at large conferences with massive schedules are those moments in between my official session plans, crouched on the floor around power outlets, talking about #eduwins or design thinking or which stylus works best for sketchnoting with people I just met.

So whether it is over a 6am cup of coffee, a big fluffy pretzel, or at the top of the Rocky Steps, do a little research, make a plan, and carpe ISTE 2015.

I searched the program for a couple topics I am interested in: sketchnotes, visible thinking, culture of thinking, creativity, curiosity, UDL (Universal Design for Learning), data visualization, grit, soft-skills, design thinking, and makerEd. From this search, here are some sessions that stood out to me. I highly encourage you to put in your own searches and see what comes up.


1. Notebooks, Pens and Pixels: Tools of the Trade for Today’s Student Writers.
Dr. Troy Hicks, Penny Kittle, Kristin Ziemke.

Participate and Share: Interactive Lecture
Tuesday, June 30, 10:45–11:45 am
PCC 105B

This session description stood out to me based on the focus of students publishing for an authentic and diverse audience and providing student choice in writing. It looks to be an examination of writing workshop practices with current technologies in mind. I especially resonated with the need for reflecting on our own writing lives and the role our personal learning networks play.

2. Blended Learning in the Makerspace
Kat Sauter

Participate and Share: Poster
Monday, June 29, 11:00 am–1:00 pm
PCC Broad Street Atrium, Table 38

Kat is incredible. I have seen her passion and creativity through the innovative makerspace she developed at the Ann Richards School for Young Women. I am always energized after talking with her at our local EdTechWomen Austin meetups where we unite over our love for design thinking and encouraging girls in STEAM. I am intrigued by the combination of blended learning and making she describes in this session. If you are interested in students creating and pursuing their personal interests and hearing from someone who built a makerspace from scratch, I do not think you will be disappointed.

3. Making, Love & Learning
Gary Stager

Listen and Learn: Lecture
Monday, June 29, 11:00 am–12:00 pm
PCC Ballroom B

I am geeking about seeing Gary in person. I often find his quotes, the influence of his work, and ideas in my own presentations and conversations about how students must have opportunities to create. His book, Invent to Learn, highlights how the maker movement, “Overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing.” I have a feeling this session will be a call to action–a call to nurture the precious gifts of wonder and curiosity in our students through hands on projects, making, tinkering, and engineering.

I also thought this session title was a wonderful lesson in the importance of the comma (don’t worry if you don’t get that one).

4. Using Data Visualizations to Support Student Learning
Sujoy Chaudhuri, Shabbi Luthra

Listen and Learn: Lecture
Monday, June 29, 8:30–9:30 am
PCC 111

This one caught my eye due to my interest in using data more effectively to impact students. I especially see a great deal of potential in the visual side of learning analytics and am always on the lookout for people who can push my thinking and spark new ideas in what this might actually look like in practice. The entrepreneur in me also believes there are some major needs in data visualization that could make powerful impacts on teaching and learning if addressed by people who get it. I noticed it was recommended by ISTE’s Independent School Educators Network too, so I think I will give them a shot.

5. Building Grit, Curiosity, and Self Sufficiency in Your Makerspace Classroom
Rachel Brusky, Chris Fleischl, Trevor Shaw

Participate and Share: Interactive Lecture
Monday, June 29, 12:45–1:45 pm
PCC 121C

Despite the fact I already had a maker related session on the docket, I decided I must attend the only session to use the word grit in the title. After reading Paul Tough’s book, How Children Succeed, and spending lots of time working with current students and teachers, I think more focus around soft-skills and noncognitive traits could go a long way. This session seeks to illustrate how a Makerspace curriculum can encourage habits of mind such as persistence, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

And just in case you are interested in either of these topics, here are my two official sharing opportunities.

1. Create Innovative Learning Opportunities with Visible Thinking
Michelle Cordy, Tracy Clark, Karen Lireman

Explore and Create: Workshop
Tuesday, June 30, 12:30-3:30
Marriott Franklin 4

This session does require pre-registration and an additional fee. In this session we will explore how to encourage metacognition (a.k.a. thinking about thinking) through hands-on activities and thinking routines with a digital twist. Michelle and Karen are incredible educators and I would love to just sit at their feet and hear them talk about their classrooms, which we will do as they tell their stories and share authentic examples of student work. If you want a list of apps this session is not for you (although we will use apps and give you the links). If you want to build thinkers with a set of ubiquitous tools, come hang out with us.

2. The Possibility Posture: Designing for Experimentation in Modern Learning
Tracy Clark, Ferdi Serim

Participate and Share: Interactive Lecture
Monday, June 29, 11:00 am–12:00 pm
PCC 120A

This is an inspirational talk to remind myself and all others who struggle with the fear of failure to put on the posture of experimentation and pull on some possibility thinking. We will share research, inspiring stories, and personal experiences aimed to motivate our fellow educators to get their hands dirty and give that thing they have been meaning to do a go.

Social Gatherings

CoffeeEDUCoffeeEDU is about expanding your professional learning network face to face. This is a great event for anyone looking to make new connections. The spirit is open, collaborative, and focused on connecting with others and doing this whole education thing together. It is also a great choice for you early risers and you do not need a special ticket or member badge. Join the conversation on Twitter with

6am everyday. All educators invited. Starbucks 1500 Market St. Philadelphia, PA


Young Educator Network ReceptionThe ISTE Young Educator Network is focused on creating networks, sharing resources, and having fun. The group is for educators in their 20s and 30s. This event will include food, drinks, entertainment, and prizes and does require a free ticket which you can register for here as long as there is space. This is another great opportunity to expand your circle and make some memories.

Monday, June 29, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. Lucky Strike Philadelphia, 1336 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.


Edcamp Organizers EventThe Edcamp Foundation is hosting this get together and dinner for Edcamp organizers who will be at ISTE. This is a great opportunity for Edcamp organizers to share their stories, ideas, and encourage fellow educators who love the Edcamp movement. If you plan to attend you can complete this form.

Tuesday, June 30,2015 7:00 to 8:15pm. String Theory School, 1600 Vine Street, Philadelphia.


EdTech Women MixerEdTech Women is a networked community for Women’s leadership in educational technology. They will be hosting a facilitated networking mixer at Ladder 15. If you are interested in making new connections with other women (and their supporters) in the edtech space this event will be an opportunity to do just that. A paid ticket is required and can be purchased, in advance here.

Monday, June 29, 2015 from 4:30-7:00pm. Ladder 15 1528 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.


What to Eat at ISTE 2015:

Places that strike my fancy. Note: Most Reading Terminal Market spots are cash only.

Taste of Philly Food Tour (Wednesday) If you can’t decide by Wednesday or you are still looking for more eats and treats, check out this Philly Food Tour which takes a deeper dive into the Reading Terminal Market.

Center City District Sips (Wednesday) I stumbled upon this on the Philly tourism website. It looks like on every Wednesday in the summer there are certain establishments with special happy hour menus for drinks and appetizers.

For more blogs by Tracy, check out:

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