Thursday, March 9, 2017

ICE 2017- I came, I saw, I CONNECTED!

ICE 2017

I have so many ideas swirling in my head after an energizing few days at the Illinois Computing Educators Conference (ICE) in St. Charles, IL. Throughout the sessions I presented and attended, I found two common themes. Educators need to create student-centered experiences and offer opportunities to students that will make them successful in today's society. Along with growing my mindset toward student-centered work, I was also able to connect with others and attend sessions that grew me as an instructional coach.

ICE as a Presenter

On Wednesday,  Jordan Garrett and I ran a workshop called "A Creative Approach to Design Thinking." After explaining design thinking and various models, we had the participants dive right in. We had a great group that was eager to create! The room was a buzz of activity using the design thinking process to solve a problem for their partner. The session was a success! We helped attendees take this student-centered process back to their classrooms with a variety of resources and a hands-on experience.

On Friday, I ran a half-day session called "Empowering Students Through Personalized Learning." Attendees were able to jump into the Universal Design for Learning to explore a variety of ways to personalize learning for students while providing varying degrees of student voice and choice. We were able to create SMART goals for ourselves and collaborate with each other through Kagan structures. After exploring personalized structures like challenge based learning, design thinking, and genius hour, the group was able to leave with a variety of ways to personalize learning for students.

ICE as a Learner

I attended some great sessions that left me inspired and thinking about my role. Here are my major takeaways.

  • It was great to watch Kolsten (@ddgaming) and Katrina Keene as a mother-son duo talk about STEM tools. One major takeaway was a way to get girls into STEM with tools that appeal to their interests like Jewel bots. I also learned about Stikbot Studios to accompany the Stikbot app that students love. I ordered them right away and they came in the mail today! Excited to take them into classrooms tomorrow.  
  • I was able to gain wisdom from Joy Kirr a few times throughout the week. She has so many great ideas that she shares with the world. One idea she shared was how she goes gradeless and focuses on feedback. She grades student work through video, so she can give visual and audio feedback. She then links the youtube video right to the grade book instead of a grade.  It truly shows it is about the learning! If you haven't seen her livebinder for Genius Hour, it is a must see. I'm excited for her book to come later this year!     
  • Both keynotes had messages that stuck with me. I keep thinking about how Eric Sheninger talked about his children. They both had great test scores, but were bored to tears at school. We have to treat our students as more than a test score. Joe Sanfelippo reminded the audience the importance of telling your school's authentic story and it is evident that he leads by example. 
  • Adam Welcome, author of Kids Deserve It!, had a great message to prepare kids for 'new' collar jobs. Jobs today require a new set of skills that don't necessarily need a college degree, but we need to help give them the opportunities to gain these skills. That is why skills like coding are so important.  
  • In the coaching roundtable session, run by the Illinois Learning Technology Center, I was able to talk coaching with others from all over the state. One thing that stuck with me was to realize my circle of influence and continue to spread it. Lori Whitman and Tim McIlvain were great sources of knowledge! 

Connecting with others and hearing so many inspiring messages motivated me to work hard to create the best opportunities for students. I am inspired to continue to blog and publish more podcast episodes to share the story of teaching and learning in Berwyn South School District 100!  


  1. Oh, my goodness! So much learning - while presenting AND attending! Thank you for sharing your notes - some of mine are quite similar! Joe's keynote was my favorite - who else can get us to laugh and cry all in one hour?! I hope to see you again soon!

    1. Yes, it was a great couple days! We will talk soon!