KySTE is usually always my favorite conference of the year. It honestly feels like a reunion and I’m always a little depressed after it ends. So many inspiring people and ideas all in one place. This year did not disappoint.
Hardin County Schools basically knocked it out of the park. Over 13 incredible educators from the best district in Kentucky led countless sessions on topics ranging from Genius Hour in the ELA classroom to going digital with littles to BITMOJIS transforming school cultures. Is it me or does this speak volumes of the digital leadership in our district?! #YES.
I didn’t make the workshops on Wednesday this year to avoid a multitude of absences in my classroom which was a little disappointing but the opening of the vendor hall did not disappoint. I was so excited to FINALLY meet THE Dr. John Curry from Morehead State University who is the single most relentless person I have ever met in my life. Yes, Dr. Curry. I’m coming for EdD at MSU eventually ….someday…maybe…hopefully. 😉
Allison Hahn, Woodland Elementary School (HCS), kicked off the day of learning on Thursday with a brilliant session on going digital with littles. Ya’ll. I am president of the #YonkerHahn fan club. I have learned more this year from Ms. Hahn & Ms. Yonker & their incredible firsties than I ever imagined was possible. Her session was glorious and her fan club was there to cheer her on! If you don’t follow @allihahn on Twitter…go do it now and thank me later. You can also follow her (and Ms. Yonker’s) amazing classroom adventures on #YonkerHahn on Twitter and Facebook.
The KyGoPlayground is always another favorite place of mine to hangout. James Allen, Mary Ann Rankin, Heidi Neltner & countless others pull out all the stops to make this space incredibly fun and engaging for all the participants of KySTE. I spent a little time there Thursday morning leading a session on OzoBlockly and Ozobots. So much fun! Another smashing success.
After lunch on Thursday, Boss Man (AKA Mark Kopp, Chief Academic Officer) and I led a session on The Coacher Philosophy and how administrators can harness the power of gSuite for Education to coach their teachers to success. It’s always a good day presenting with Mr. Kopp.
We kicked off Friday morning with Sue Ellen Langley, Creekside Elementary School (HCS) and how Bitmojis have transformed the culture of her school …but ALSO encouraged the use of GOOGLE! Say WHAT?! I love Sue Ellen’s story and she had me crying and laughing within the first 15 minutes. I love her heart, her story and the amazing people of Creekside. So special to me. And she even gave participants time to work on their bitmoji. Could a session get any better?!
Jaime Spurling and Katie Newton, James T. Alton Middle School, led a great session on Genius Hour in the ELA classroom. I love their message. I always struggled with Genius Hour in my own classroom and they’ve really done a remarkable job providing just enough structure (but not too much) for their students in their classrooms to really go far with the Genius Hour concept. Bravo, ladies! Amazing work.
I think Ms. Nickell was probably wishing she had kicked me in the face when I encouraged her to present at KySTE but her message is incredible as well. She is an INTERIM principal this year at East Hardin Middle School and absolutely KILLING IT. I wanted the world to hear her message and she absolutely nailed it.
My last session was about my journey with the Girls Who Code initiative and class at our Early College & Career Center. It’s been an interesting year full of ups and downs. I was completely transparent with my story and I hope attendees left my session knowing they were capable of starting their own club in addition to ideas for avoiding the pitfalls that I encountered along the way.
My final session of the day was 25 Chromebook tips by Christie Turbeville and Danita Cobble from Bullitt County Public Schools. Wowzers. So many things I didn’t know. I sent that link to approximately 873 people and told them to pin it to their browser. Great stuff, ladies, GREAT STUFF.
There were so many sessions that I wish I could have gone too and so many of my HCS peeps led sessions that I know went off without a hitch. I am so proud of you all and wish I could have attended EVERYTHING.
So what was my biggest takeaway from KySTE17?
Since I started attending conferences regularly back several years ago, I made it a goal to have one BIG takeaway with major school/district/state implications. Back in 2013 at AMLE it was Twitter. KySTE14 it was #KyEdChat and my new EduGeek family. ISTE14 it was EdCampKY (and countless other things). KySTE15 it was computer science & programming. ISTE15 it was Google geo tools. KySTE 16 it was the maker movement. KySTE 17…Joe Beers and Scott U’Sellis.
I’ve been trying to meet up with these two masterminds for quite awhile and KySTE17 made this happen. Joe is a superstar from Jessamine County and worked with my sweet friend Laura Raganas on setting up the partnership between KDE and Girls Who Code. Scott is the IT/Media Arts Consultant for KDE. After my session was over we decided to sit down together and brainstorm. You know that “right place, right time” feeling? This was it. These two are just as passionate about computer science as I am, even specifically with encouraging more minority participation in the IT industry. It was inspiring to sit down and talk to them and make plans moving forward. I am so, so, so grateful for the opportunity to chat with them and I’m looking forward to how we can work together in the future to advocate for computer science education.
Overall KySTE17 was a slam dunk. Huge thank you to the KySTE board and all the hard work, time and dedication it takes to pull of a conference this successful. Well done!