Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Neverending Search
Inside Neverending Search

ISTE Librarians’ Takeaways (Crowdsourced) Updated

ISTE both thrills and overwhelms me. However carefully I plan my choices, each year I am plagued by FOMO.

This year, with the help of ISTE Librarians Network President Nikki Robertson, I asked our colleagues who attended the Network Breakfast to help us all out by sharing their biggest takeaways.

First, know that the folks who were #NotatISTE or #NotatISTE19 and those who love them, shared quite a bit using the Twitter hashtags. In fact, well-known presenters are using the hashtag to share their own presentations. For instance, Kasey Bell generously shared her own resource-packed presentations on her Shake Up Learning Blog prior to the conference. Our own Kristina Holzweiss shared the Wakelet on Wakelet she co-presented, as well as her blog post on library uses of the platform.  Soundtrap offers 20 Best of #ISTE19 podcasts.

And, yes, they’ve done it again. Honorary librarian Peggy George and librarian Susie Highly curated a rich and beautifully organized #NotatISTE19 Livebinder.

 @pgeorge, @shighley, & @livebinders

There’s a growing spreadsheet of ISTE Collaborative Notes.

And lead high school teacher Laura Steinbrink generously packed a full #NotatISTE Wakelet suitcase for us to take home.

My own stuff and some resources

I spent my first morning attending the ISTE Equity Action Forum and will be involved in a year-long planning project addressing issues relating to information poverty/privilege. This is my team.

I was honored to join several esteemed colleagues to present on the panel: Leading the Charge: Leveraging Librarian Leadership to Support the OER Journey. Here are our slides.

And here is the sketchnote Margaret Sisler created during the session:

You may also be interested in this slide deck from the all-star panel presentation, Everyone Can Sketchnote.

Among the MANY items in my own digital tote is Denise Henry-Orndorff’s Periodic Table of Google Extensions.

And there was Google Tools You Aren’t Using, But Should be in Your Library with librarian friends James Allen, Sherry Gick, Nancy Jo Lambert, Nikki Robertson, and Tiffany Whitehead.

Shared at both ALA and ISTE was the AASL Best Websites list gathered by Sherry Gick onto this Wakelet and these slides.

You won’t want to miss AASL’s Best Apps for 2019, presented last week at ALA in D.C. (We learned at ALA that next year, the two lists will be combined as digital tools.)

And now to our larger network reflections:

Nikki Robertson

Nikki Robertson shared her reflections on amplifying learning:

The deluge of stimuli at ISTE is overwhelming even for a veteran like myself.  There isn’t a minute of the day (or night) when there isn’t something in which to immerse yourself. For me, ISTE is the ultimate professional development conference to catch up on the latest in EdTech, collaborate with old and new friends, and to spend time with my people.

ISTE is a conference from which you will emerge seeped in a wealth of knowledge even if you never make it to even one of the 1811 sessions. My favorite learning opportunity every year is the Librarians Network Playground. The Playground provides learners with 44 different walk-up sessions in the span of just 3.5 hours. The thing I love most about the Playground is the ability to access information in an informal way that lends itself to a more personalized experience.

One session that blew my mind was, Cellverse: Virtual Reality for Cellular Biology. MIT Step Labs introduced their new virtual reality learning projects through CLEVR: Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality. CLEVR allows students to examine a cell from the inside with a 360-degree view. Along their journey in the cell assignments and guides pop up on clipboards. Taking this learning experience one step further, CLEVR also pairs these journey in the cell with lessons based around specific diseases like cystic fibrosis so that students can see the variations in cells from one disease to the other.  This experience brings a much deeper and longer lasting understanding of cells than a labeled cell cake

If you have never attended a session presented by the Justice League of EdTech Superheroes, Adam Bellow, Colleen Graves, Sherry Gick, Steve Dembo, Nicholas Provenzano, Michael Medvinsky, and friends set up a Google alert now on where to find their next presentation. Last year they presented their favorite new edtech through a Let’s Make a Deal style presentation. This year attendees were treated to a Battle of the EdTech Stars. Audience member participation determined whether the edtech presented by the Red Team or the Blue Team won each battle round. Attendees were also treated to free subscriptions or the actual product for playing the game.

The ISTE Librarians Network Breakfast Keynote was perhaps the highlight of my learning experience at ISTE this year, as it always is. The ISTE Librarians Network has a strong history of securing dynamic Keynote speakers and this year was particularly amazing. As an ardent advocate for student voice, I knew that, as ISTE Librarians Network President, I had to get Olivia Van Ledtje (@TheLivBits) and her mother Cynthia Merrill to be the 2019 Keynote speakers.  Liv and her mother shared their personal experiences and journey through harnessing the power of social media for empowering students to claim and share their stories. To learn more about their message and how you can start empowering student voice in your school be sure to check out Liv and Cynthia’s new book, Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World.

These are just four sessions I was able to participate in while at ISTE this year. I have spent a good portion of the two days since returning from ISTE going through the program and collecting resources from sessions I attended as well as those I was interested in attending but simply couldn’t fit in my schedule. So far I have curated 32 resources that I want to go back and examine closer. 

The best thing about ISTE is that the learning continues all year long through the webinars and interactive communities provided by each of the ISTE Networks. I’d encourage you to check out the ISTE Librarians Network website for news, updates, and upcoming webinars as well as checking out past webinars. Be sure to also connect with the ISTE Librarians Network on Facebook and Twitter. 

Michele Kruse

Michelle Kruse, a middle school teacher librarian from Cedar Rapids Community School District shared her newbie ISTE takeaways:

This was my first ISTE conference.  The best event for me was definitely the librarians’ breakfast and listening to The Liv Bits, and her mom, Cynthia Merrill. 

For the past two years, I have had the experience of working to create elective classes for our middle school students at my magnet middle school, Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy.  This year, I created an elective, Social Justice through Social Media.  Using the work of Jennifer Casa-Todd, and her book, Social LEADia, I have introduced my students to young people that use social media to promote important causes.  The Liv Bits was just one of the many young people I encouraged my students to look more closely at her social media presence.  It was amazing to hear her speak in person and to hear about #SparkChange

Olivia’s ideas that digital citizenship comes from sharing your story with the world is exactly where I was trying to guide my class this past spring.  After her keynote, I had the opportunity to talk with Olivia and her mother, and ask about the potential of Olivia Skyping with my elective class this next school year.  When I tweeted out the picture I took with Olivia, it also sparked the discussion of bringing Olivia to Iowa to meet with Iowa’s teacher librarians.  This kind of personal connection is what going to a conference like ISTE is all about.  It was really an incredible experience for me, and it is one that will help shape how I teach my elective class the second time this next year.  I’ve attached the picture I took with Olivia. 

Sarah Russo

Sarah Russo, middle school library media specialist in Columbia, Maryland (Wilde Lake Middle School) shared a reflection she titled, Stickers & What is Sticking With Me: My First ISTE

When they told me that attending the ISTE conference was like drinking from a fire hose, I laughed. I am the input queen. After three ALA annual conferences I felt I was prepared.

I was wrong! I was not prepared. So many brilliant ideas! So many brilliant educators. And to quote Beyoncé: “It’s just not right, it’s just so much damn swag.”

So I will likely need all summer and beyond to unpack my notes. Poster sessions and playgrounds especially. I felt like I could have spent all day learning from some of the poster sessions where I could only realistically spend five minutes.

So what are my biggest takeaways?

Student voice. Ed tech has advanced to the point where there is no excuse not to give students a voice in their classrooms and their world.  Especially the voices that have been historically silenced and marginalized. The global collaborations going on around the world are becoming easier and more common. It is the duty of every educator to give their children a place to stand and let their voices be heard. My favorite poster sessions were all student led. From making and entrepreneurial goals to solving the world’s biggest problems- I have never been more inspired by our young people.

Technological Darwinism. It has always been the case that companies that play nicely with others win . . . and it looks like certain larger companies are looking to grow by absorbing smaller companies, giving incentives and premium offers to those specific brand users . . . it’s an interesting trend.

I have a million other things to take away, from STEM integration, mental wellness for students and staff, adaptive technologies, robotics, programming, staff development/coaching, and more.

I need ISTE to be a week longer just for the Expo hall. My best days were when it wasn’t open yet, and I wasn’t as stressed choosing between sessions and getting to know what new things were coming out to each company. I do love stickers though.

Time for me to unpack another 400 infused notes…

For Brenda Boyer, this ISTE was not her first rodeo. But this year, one particular session truly resonated with her.

One of my favorite sessions this year was Classroom Clickbait – Tapping into Student Curiosity, presented by David Clough and Alfonso Favale.

This session brilliantly suggested we tap the psychological power of clickbait as a way to engage our learners, regardless of our content area. David explained that clickbait works on the simple principle of the “curiosity gap” – what we don’t know, but want to know. 

So, the big question is, how do we get learners to want to know?  The answer?  DISCO!! (And yes, they had an awesome disco ball spinning and radiating disco fever across the room!)

DISCO represents the five strategies used by clickbait makers: 

*Deficiency (preys on our lack of knowledge) example: “Only 10% of students know…”

*Intriguing image (cut off, close up, or highlighted parts of images) e.g. “15 photos that will blow your mind!”

*Sequence (numbers, lists) e.g. 5 Things you didn’t know about your friends

*Cliffhanger (end with ellipse …) e.g. She walked into school. 20 minutes later this happened…

*Open-ended question (we need to know why!) e.g. What are the most famous last words? What would happen if ___?

For each DISCO dance move (i.e. strategy), David and Alfonso encouraged us to write our own clickbait, tailoring it to our content areas with things like:

One math trick every 12th grader should know;

They found a mysterious object on the bus. You’ll never believe what it is.

She tried to answer this history question. What happened next is heartbreaking.

10 reasons to use the library. Number 7 will blow your mind!

The audience tried out our disco moves on this padlet.
Along the way, we also learned about some awesome tools our learners (or we) can use to create clickbait: (to make a google form chatbot), Facepixelizer (to blur out names, faces), Biteable (to make really simple videos), Designcap (for custom posters), and Logomakr (to make logos, of course), and EzGif (to animate images). To find ideas for lists, open-ended questions, and other clickbaity stuff, Quora was suggested as a good starting point.

This session was the sort that we all aspire to deliver: a fun and engaging experience where the audience is learning and able to immediately apply new knowledge. As I contemplated funny or intriguing clickbait I could create and post all around my library, I realized that clickbait images and headlines are just the thing to spice up the digital choice boards I offer my students. These could be made using a variety of templates inside Canvas, HyperDocs, or HTML5 games

The clickbait will serve as a hint or hook to spark curiosity about their learning options. I can’t wait to start luring them in!  (Here’s a link to David and Alfonso’s slides.)

Eileen Csongradi

Eileen Csongradi, of Visitation BVM School Library (PA), shared an initial emotional response and plans for moving forward:

I spent so much of my time at ISTE on the verge of tears. I was moved, frustrated, thrilled, and just plain emotional. I spent four days hearing some of my favorite things: YES!  How can we make that work? #KidsCanTeachUs  etc.

I am heading into the reflection and planning part of my summer with the idea that our library must do more to get our kids involved in leadership and creation. My uncertainty and struggles with “imposter syndrome” can’t be an excuse to do less. I will look to voices from ISTE to keep me motivated and hopeful.

And I need to learn to code.

Katie McNamara

Katie McNamara was not in Philly but wrote:

I am #notatiste but am very grateful for the kind people of #PasstheScopeEDU for helping me get bits of wisdom here and there.  Collectively, my takeaway is to share the awesome.  We are all in this together. Love my #PLF !!!

Jacqueline Liesch

Jacqueline Liesch, Library Media Teacher at Harborside Academy in Kenosha, WI wrote of the professional value the conference offers:

Every year when I come to the ISTE conference, I am met with such passionate, dedicated educators. I am inspired and motivated to connect throughout the year via ISTE PLNs, the ISTE Connect community, and other social media platforms in order to develop professionally and impact change in my school community. 
I am excited to continue my commitment to the digital citizenship campaign, collaborate with teachers to embed the ISTE standards, and build the maker culture at my schools to empower student learning. 

Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop @MrsBishopSMS, School Library Media Specialist at Saco Middle School (ME), shared the importance of finding community:

My first ISTE conference experience has inspired and promoted both personal and professional growth. I especially appreciated the authentic, and often vulnerable, conversations with other librarians that helped me make connections. I am often secluded, but I am not alone.

Robbie Barker

Robbie Barker, from Tucker High School (GA), shares my appreciation for Wakelet as a curation and storytelling tool:

My biggest takeaway from ISTE this year was the collective collaboration in Wakelet.  I had worked with others, in the past, to create or collate certain materials, but this year it seemed to explode and I was a part of several different groups collecting and separating out into different headings using Wakelet.  It was, and will continue to be for months, an incredible experience.

Deborah Hoover, Librarian at Northeastern Middle School (PA) considered the value of attending with colleagues:

ISTE is even more powerful when you attend with a team of people as eager as you to create learning environments where students learn to envision their own learning path using informed decisions, all types of tech and their passions. I loved learning more about ways to work with students, teachers, admins, parents, the community and create global connections. Livbits is an inspiration of what it might be.

James Allen

Finally, let’s end with sharing our own James Allen’s (Eminence Independence Schools, KY) sketchnote of the ISTE Breakfast.

Sketchnote by James Allen

Update: As you can see in the comments, Gigi Lincoln shared Michigan library media specialist Amy Hermon’s School Librarians United podcast, which not only included a rich voice reflection, it also leads to the following collection of resources:

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Margaret Lincoln says

    Amy Hermon, an outstanding Michigan elementary library media specialist, recorded a great recap of ISTE 19 school library oriented resources and sessions! See her School Librarians United podcast series

Speak Your Mind