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It is the day after TIES and like most everybody, I am tired! TIES is an exceptional conference that offers top of the line material to all participants. Not only does this conference focus on local innovation, it targets specific "big wigs" to come and build on what is happening in Minnesota. This post will outline my takeaways and overall thoughts from the two days.

This year's theme was undoubtedly creation. Maker spaces were a very prominent theme throughout many sessions. These environments are fostering kids inquiry, challenging them with coding and hard real world problems, and engaging them in ways that they didn't have before. The theme was also echoed in the device sessions. Presenters did not focus on showcasing specific apps, rather they showed the power in students creating authentic, digital content in their classrooms. 

The overall messaging and learnings from this conference were very consistent. Presents talked over and over again how important it is for your students to be creating digital work. Students today will be entering a world that is not yet created. They will be judged about what they have done, and must show evidence of that. If your learning in the classroom can be thrown into the recycling bin after class, you are not providing your students this opportunity. 

The other key learning I took away was the footprint that students are creating. We had the amazing pleasure of having George Couros be our keynote and he was very clear about how positive your digital footprint can be! He said "We need to make the positives so loud, the negatives are almost impossible to hear!" - @gcouros. All too often, education focuses on what students can't do. They say that you must turn off your cell phone before you come to class, and have to give me your device if you are not listening. Here is how this transfers into students "I don't trust you".  I don't trust that you will use your device to research properly. I don't trust that you will work the entire time on your project. I don't trust that you will stay on task. Here is what you need to think, when you sit in a staff meeting, or even in a PD session, are you on task even 80% of the time. Do you engage 100% of the time during this learning. 

Final Bullets
  • Give your kids authentic tasks to work on that are back mapped to the curriculum
  • Let them create their content rather than "learning" it from an app or website
  • Engage them through technology
  • Model good digital citizenship
  • Get out of their way!