ISTE 2016 has come to a close, and reflecting back on the experience this year has been one of wonder. There are so many people who have created apps, technologies, systems of organization and awe inspiring products. One of the most emotionally moving sessions for me was Angela Maiers from Choose2Matter. She demonstrated the power of believing in your students during her “Genius Hour,” that helps all kids “Liberate the Genius” within themselves. It takes passion to the next level and sets the stage for not only immediate social awareness and responsibility but also the ability to take risks in the future. Gasps of awe and cheers were heard frequently throughout the presentation as she presented one case after another where kids not only experienced the power of finding oneself but also how one action leads to another – benefiting all in its embrace. Fun, Fun, Fun was “Snap Those Bugs: A Photomicrography Scavenger Hunt” where Julie Delello and Suzy Jungmann took us into a miniature world with microscopic lenses. There are handouts displaying lessons in exploring water quality, an Augmented Reality Template, and Seeing Science Through a Different Lens Activity via the digital tote bag in the ISTE 2016 app. It was thrilling taking pics and viewing the world at such a detailed level. They demonstrated how to up the motivation for lessons by turning it into a game. What a blast this would be for preschoolers as well as those in college. The Playground was a happening place, with demonstrations and hands-on learning from Cubelets, Bloxels, Puzzlets, Tiggly, Osmo, and Wonder Workshop. Each of these companies utilizes manipulatives for active experimentation, problem-solving, and worthy of a place in anyone’s curriculum. Gail Lovely and Gayle Berthiaume from “Suddenly it Clicks” giving guidance of the importance of preschool. Check out their website and their book, “Using an iPad with Your Preschooler”. It is available through Amazon and other reputable retailers. Buncee was a most impressive presentation tool for creating multimedia projects. Created by Marie Arturi, its ease of use and the flexibility to add or edit on the fly is phenomenal. The ability to upload web media, personal art or chose from thousands of Buncee’s custom made graphics is easily accessed from the dashboard. There are several levels of packages to choose from, each with an array of tools to select and use. A free version is available so give it a spin. Although most presentations can be made with the free version, you may want to check out the other packages available for the just right fit. Customer service is awesome; meaning the staff at Buncee is available for questions and walk-throughs on a personal basis. Included are webinars for new users. Handwriting Without Tears has come out with a keyboarding curriculum for K-5. It grades the levels of difficulty in a way that only HWT can, and in fact, has already earned the ISTE Seal of Alignment Award. Included in the package are general computer readiness and digital citizenship skills as well as exercises to build general keyboard fluency and speed. Teacher’s guides and lessons that are age appropriate help kids generalize skills across subjects, making keyboarding relevant. Check out their demo at kwt.com/demo. Fun, engaging, and stimulating Cubelets, by Modular robotics are sweet little blocks that pack powerful lessons on learning to sequence and problem-solve – which are the basics of learning to code. Made for kids 4 and up, each block is a robot that has its own unique behaviors, and when combined with other blocks becomes a new robot with unique traits. Combinations are endless. Cubelets can be bought individually or in preset packs and are sturdy enough for even the roughest of handlers. They snap together magnetically and work in synchronization. As each block is a robot in itself, they can also be used in conjunction with other building toys such as Lego™ brand blocks. Last but not least in this list is TWA’s favorite case for the iPad, Gripcase. Its ease of handling for even the youngest of consumers is legendary and promotes bilateral integration with its unique open design. This lightweight case is portable and pairs well with their stand for strengthening hands and wrists, improving viewing ease for kids that lack graded postural control in the head and neck, and facilitates improved attention. With that, we say goodbye to ISTE 2016, and look forward to ISTE2017 in San Antonio!
Written by Jo Booth
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.