Where I’ll Be – SXSWedu 2018

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I love SXSWedu! It’s one of my all-time favorite edtech conferences. I attended and spoke in 2015 and met so many great educators that have become great friends of mine. Every experience at SXSWedu transforms my teaching practices. Last year, I led a core conversation with my buddy, Jay Silver on Invention Literacy, and attended a material exploration workshop that changed the way I introduce making to my students and workshop participants.

This year I’m excited to be on an epic panel:

Thriving Makerspaces in Low Income and Rural Schools

Wed, March 7  | 11:00-12:00 – Austin Convention Center Room 3

This is going to be a one great conversation! Aaron, Paula, and I work at very different schools, yet we are all successfully implementing maker education with low income populations using low cost tools. We believe making should be accessible for all, and we can’t wait to share our success (and failure) stories!

Here’s the blurb in case you haven’t clicked into the session info yet!

“Our panel, including a librarian, teacher, director of a makerspace, and a non-profit leader, will discuss and share their observations and experiences in creating successful and sustainable makerspaces in low income and rural schools. Educators in low income and rural communities face challenges in implementing hands-on learning, including financial, cultural, and systemic barriers, which need to be addressed in order to authentically provide maker education for all students.”

After this session, I’ll be signing books on Wednesday, March 7 from 12:30 – 1:00pm on Level 3 of the Austin Convention Center in Room 10C.

Other Sessions I’m looking forward to…..

Jeff Branson from Sparkfun Edu mentioned some great sessions that I’m equally excited about! One of which is:

“Toy Hacking puts the students behind the curtain of consumer products, gets students active under the hood with toys they know as consumers. While the rest of the world spray paints wires pink to get girls into STEM, we empower our students to take control. Toy Hacking teaches electronics, CS, gears, drafting, sewing, as well as literacy rich documentation skills. This is a choice-rich, no kit, open-source, low-cost curriculum. Come play and learn with us, and bring it to your class tomorrow.”

Monday is jam packed with greatness, here are a few quick highlights:

“After attending SXSW EDU in 2017, Saurabh returned to India and opened one of the first makerspace dedicated exclusively to kids in New Delhi. His son had already taken a liking to making activities and he was able to find a community of children to join in the holy grail of learning – maker space activities. Utilizing his learned makerspace knowledge he was able to successfully teach math, science and English to the young students at his maker space in New Delhi.”

This session will be epic! I spoke with Ela Ben-Ur last year during one of her mentor sessions and was blown away with the Innovator’s Compass!

“Five simple questions drive design thinking and many methods for unsticking different problems. We all ask those questions—just not consistently. What happens when students, and adults around them, use those questions as a visual compass to find new possibilities in their everyday challenges—from conflicts to homework? See learners of all ages getting unstuck on their own and together. Hear their impact stories. Practice with your peers. Leave ready to empower anyone to navigate challenges.”

“As virtual and augmented reality applications make headlines, teachers may be wondering how they can meaningfully bring these tools to their classrooms. Not only do these technologies allow students to understand the world around them in new ways, they are also allowing kids to create their own worlds. Come learn from a panel of cutting-edge educators who are utilizing Unity tools to teach students 21st century skills, empowering the next generation of coders, artists and designers.”

“Transform flights of creative fancy via hashtags and doodles, mashups and portmanteaux, Oreo cookies, and LEGO bricks into pathways for students to demonstrate content knowledge, critical thinking, and the problem solving that will serve them best no matter what their futures may bring. Structured to maximize takeaways and firsthand experience, learn how explanation, rationale, and intentionality elevate our classrooms into places where students shift from passive riders to active adventurers.”

“Makerspaces can provide even more powerful learning opportunities when an element of diversity is purposefully integrated into the maker experience. In this session, join the conversation with a panel of different types of library professionals and learn ways to infuse a variety of cultures, appeal to different ages and genders, and expand awareness of different socioeconomic groups in makered activities to cultivate a broader understanding of the world for a deeper learning experience.”

Tuesday Highlights

“Kids today have a lot to deal with. Like adults, kids stress out about work, school, relationships; a myriad of things that they have no control over. In this session, attendees will get the opportunity to experience how elements of hip hop and yoga can help kids cope with stress, overcome social anxiety, and express themselves creatively. Attendees will get the opportunity to experience how the two correlate through self-exploration and collaborative activities.”

Wednesday Highlights

“In the last decade, libraries have transformed, from the traditional book provider to become the community anchor where the next generation technology innovations take place. Drawing from initiatives such as the Libraries Ready to Code project and IMLS grants, this session provides perspectives from thought leaders in industry, government, universities, and libraries on the role libraries play in our national CS education ecosystem and work together with communities to support youth success.”

“What makes a great ed game? We asked the kids who are playing them in classrooms. Game designer/teacher Steve Isaacs’ students reviewed some of the world’s most popular classroom games and created several short videos like the popular “What Kids Think of…” YouTube series. iCivics CEO Louise Dube’, Games for Change chair Asi Burak, and games scholar Matt Farber will discuss what these students have to say in a session that is sure to challenge academics, designers, and educators.”


“Science has inspired artists to consider scale and has given us tools to see the world from an up-close perspective. In this workshop, participants capture still and film images from a digitally fabricated webcam microscope that can be made inexpensively with low or high-tech tools. This open-ended activity invites people to explore possibilities while encouraging the artist and scientist in all of us to zoom in and find beauty in the world up-close. BYOD (laptop) to this session.”

Thursday Highlights

This is an epic line-up. I saw Lisa Brahms, from MakeShop, speak in DC during the Capitol Hill Maker Faire in 2016. You won’t want to miss this session!

“Making Spaces is a partnership between Maker Ed, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and 15 Regional Hubs to form a national network which has supported the integration of making in 60+ schools across the country in the first year of the program. Panelists will discuss their successes and challenges around sustainability, fundraising, and community building, as well as share visioning and goal setting tools from the Crowdfunding for Making in Schools Toolkit.”

There are so many awesome sessions! It’ll be hard to decide between them all. I’m looking forward to a stellar week of learning and connecting with other educators.


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