#ISTE 2017 – Tips and Tricks

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ISTE is just around the corner, and it’s in Texas this year! I loved Nicholas Provenzano’s post about ISTE tips, so I thought I’d share a few of my own.

  1. Bring a re-usable water bottle. Texas is HOT in the summer, ya’ll. Most conference centers have water inside, but if you bring your own bottle, you can refill it and take it with you on your walk back to the hotel.
  2. Make a plan. Pick sessions (and back up sessions) ahead of time. Be flexible about running to a different session at the last minute, but you really need to pick some “must attend” sessions before you even leave home. (See this helpful ISTElib guide if you are feeling a tad overwhelmed.)
  3. Visit the Playgrounds! The playground sessions are super fun and mostly not run by vendors. Play with gadgets and concepts and move on when you are ready. (Plan these too, they change up by time and by day! I missed the STEAMPUNK playground last year and I’m still sad about it.)
  4. Attend workshops. They might seem pricey, but most workshops come with free SWAG. (And if they don’t, you’ll still get your money’s worth in learning.) I’m pretty excited to help Jie Qi with this paper circuit workshop.
  5. Stay and play! If you attend a maker session and it is hands-on…. STAY AND MAKE STUFF! The best way to learn about maker education is to immerse yourself in it. I love attending hands on sessions and learning with my peers. In fact, I’m pretty stoked about attending a #computationaltinkering workshop with the infamous Tinkering Studio peeps and Mitch Resnick. (#makered #fangirling)
  6. Say hi to tweeps! If you see someone you follow on Twitter, don’t be afraid to say hello. It might seem weird, but it is actually fun to meet your tweeps face to face.
  7. Sign up for evening parties. Don’t go overboard, but sign up for fun parties/dinners/drinks/etc. (Like maybe this Maker Ed one on Monday night…. ) Networking is one of THE BEST things about ISTE.
  8. Eat tacos. Eat tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. REPEAT. In Texas we take our tacos seriously. And don’t ask for Tabasco sauce. Just. Don’t. (Salsa and Sriracha are acceptable Texas taco accoutrements.)
  9. Take breaks. Don’t overdo it. Take sit down breaks to catch up on social media, or just chill for a bit. ISTE is HUGE and there are so many people. It can seem really overwhelming. So ask a friend to go get an iced coffee and chill on the riverwalk for awhile.
  10. Visit the Alamo! Take an afternoon, go visit the Alamo, check out other cool San Antonio stuff (list one or list two), and save your river-walking for the evening when it’s not as hot outside.

Did I forget something? Post your own suggestions for surviving ISTE  (or attending sessions) in the comments.

See you in San Antonio!

Pinecrest Innovation Institute- Wrap Up

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I just got back from Florida and had so much fun facilitating a “Low Floor High Ceiling Workshop” alongside Josh Burker! Josh built this amazing wiki as a resource to which I added ideas for Makey Makey and Paper Circuits.

We stayed true to our maker facilitator background and held this workshop in an open-ended format and let the learners guide their own work. So it was a BLAST! Check out some snapshots of participant’s learning:

Snapshot of our workshop fun at Innovation Institute! W @joshburker #makelearning #makered

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Marble runs are always satisfying!

One of my favorite things during the workshop was seeing so many makers make my favorite paper circuit activity from the #bigmakerbook.  While makers were attempting this complicated circuitry, I had an a-ha moment. Even though paper circuits might not seem open-ended, it is a great activity to introduce tinkering, problem-solving, and de-bugging. When makers craft paper circuits, they often have only one or two lights that work at first, so this type of making forces them to tinker to problem solve why their connections aren’t creating closed circuits. Plus, even if they are following a template, the nature of paper circuits allows for some open-ended creativity for incorporating light and interactivity. (Check out this birthday card from one of our workshop attendees!) Lastly, this paper circuit can now be animated with Jie’s new programmable paper circuit “Love to Code” board!!!

Another snapshot from the workshop @joshburker and I held for Pinecrest Innovation Institute ! #makelearning #PD4c

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Our participants even got to see Josh and I go into mad maker mode when he designed a whimsical Makey Makey instrument inside the wind tunnel, and I hacked a computer fan for Makey Makey spin art. Watch the whole Instagram below:

Amazing hard fun at our #makered workshop w @joshburker at Innovation Institute #PD4c #makelearning

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More on take apart and re-inventing here:

The next day I gave my Keynote on Making and Literacy and explained how Invention Literacy can immerse students in the maker mindset.

I also enjoyed attending sessions and getting even more resources for making with cardboard from Kris Swanson and Vicki Spitalnick!  (And I’m ever so thankful for Kris showing me this vectorizer so I can get my Watercolorbot to be more functional! )

You should add the Pinecrest Innovation Institute to your yearly conference schedule! The Fort Lauderdale campus is beautiful and there will be great learning for all to enjoy. (Plus awesome maker educators like Diana Rendina and Krissy Venosdale are in attendance.)