Monday, July 31, 2017

Top ISTE 2017 Takeaways

Phew! ISTE 2017 has come and gone. We are reflecting on and digesting the amazing ideas and information we gathered throughout the four-day conference. Check out our top takeaways from the world’s largest Ed Tech gathering!

Think Outside the Box with Google Tools
BVSD students and employees have access to a powerful suite of Google tools. How these tools can be implemented in instruction are limited only by your creativity. Challenge yourself and your students to think of new ways of using existing tools!  For example:
  • Consider using Google Slides to design posters (hint: change document size in the File menu)
  • Collect GPS data in Google Sheets and create custom Google Maps to plot your findings, then publish in Sites (Example: Maple Project)
  • Use Google Drawings and Slides to prototype app designs (templates here & here).

Technology can Help us Shatter the Single Story
In her keynote speech Jennie Magiera, Chief Innovation Officer in Des Plaines, IL, encouraged us to give students more of a voice. She gave examples from her own childhood and others to illustrate the danger in seeing students as a “single story”. According to Magiera, “it’s a teacher’s job to amplify the untold story of our students’ potential.” Online video can be a powerful platform for giving students a platform and an audience for them to share their full stories. Don’t miss your opportunity to learn from Magiera when she keynotes at the Colorado Summit on November 4.

Early Coding: One Way to Close the Innovation and Tech Gender Gap
Reshma Saujani, the founder of, shared research and findings from her own efforts to demonstrate the gender inequality in technology. There is a tremendous opportunity for growth in this area, and Saujani is trying to accelerate this by supporting the founding of thousands of “Girls Who Code” clubs across the US. If you are interested in starting a Girls Who Code club at your school, you can start the process by visiting this link.

Formative Assessment Has Never Been So Fun!
Checking for student understanding during a lesson or unit has never been so easy or fun! Monica Burns of encouraged us to make sure our formative assessments are meaningful, sustainable, and scalable. Here are some of our favorite formative assessment tools:
a) Spark Post is a simple graphic design tool that students can use to creatively demonstrate understanding
b) Recap is a service that encourages student reflection through the use of video
c) Kahoot is developing a new mobile app that allows students to also see the question on their screen, thus enabling “homework challenges” that can be assigned
d) Padlet is like a virtual wall of sticky-notes to which students can post text, images, and more to show understanding.

New ISTE Standards Create Empowered Learners
ISTE’s standards for students, educators, and administrators have evolved significantly over the years. Think not of things to do, but ways to be. At this year’s conference, the latest iteration of these standards was unveiled. Check out the detailed standards here:

Augmented and Virtual Reality are Everywhere!

As soon as we entered the conference hall lobby we were greeted by a big sign advertising the ISTE 2017 Augmented Reality game, encouraging attendees to search for and scan various hidden clues throughout the venue. The presence of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) was hard to miss this year. Microsoft demonstrated its Hololens headset by having participants analyze historic artifacts. Google demoed the latest version of its Expeditions software which uses AR to let you look inside Rome’s Colosseum, for example. Multiple sessions and playgrounds were available to conference attendees looking to try out the latest experiences. You will be seeing a lot more of this in the next couple of years, and there will surely be many interesting educational applications.

Let Students Take the Lead
On the heels of the latest ISTE standards with a focus on empowered learning, many schools are already taking steps to let students take the lead with technology. We met students from a school in Texas who had organized a half-day tech conference for students, by students. Sessions ranging from document design to virtual reality were offered to the student body, with additional networking opportunities built into the schedule. How are we providing opportunities like this for our students?

What Were Your Takeaways?
Comment below with what inspired, challenged, or amazed you about #ISTE17 and mark your calendars for next year’s conference in Chicago June 24-27, 2018.

Monday, July 17, 2017

InnEdCO 2017: BVSD Experiences Innovative Education Colorado


“Lifelong learners” is a term often heard in educational circles. Lifelong learners that have a growth mindset are motivated to set learning goals, focus on their efforts, reflect, and achieve new understandings. Lifelong learners with a growth mindset that seek creative and innovative ideas in technology (and live near the Centennial State) go to Innovative Education Colorado (InnEdCO)! And Boulder Valley School District is teeming with lifelong learners, as evidenced last month at the InnEdCO conference. Over 70 BVSD employees attended the three-day conference in Keystone. This number is significant for multiple reasons, such as the incredible growth of attendees over the years and the impact it has on our schools when attendees return and share with their colleagues and students.

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In addition to the incredible amount of attendees and presenters that were at InnEdCO, the quality of sessions and learning was on par! And these ideas/tools are a hole-in-one:
  • You can create shared albums that ANYONE can add to by link! Imagine having students go on a field trip and adding their visual experience. Every contributor’s photo is credited to them, so tracking participation is easy. Check out the BVSD @ #InnEdCO17 Google Photo Shared Album.
  • Keynote speaker Rusul Alrubail reminded us to teach with empathy and kindness because micro-interactions in our day often result in high impact for those we encounter, including our students. “Our role is no longer outcome-centered, classroom-centered or teacher-centered. It is student-centered.”
  • Keynote Speaker Ken Shelton encouraged educators to empower students’ voices through storytelling. 21st century students are communicating their words and thoughts through online publications of digital and visual means. How are students learning to immerse others in their stories to form connections and relationships? A pro tip: have students storyboard their digital narrative, then swap storyboards with a classmate and create each other’s digital story! Check out his classroom ready comparison of visual language to the published word.

This is just a brief peek looking back at an amazing week of learning and collaborating with like-minded educators and educational supporters from across our region and state. As we reflect on a June filled with innovation and inspiration, we want to know what you are learning this summer! Add in your comments below and/or tweet it out to us @bvsdedtech. Make sure to include #BVSDLearns!  

Save the Date June 11-14, 2018 for next year’s InnEdCO!  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Innovate@BVSD 2017

BVSD’s annual professional learning and innovation showcase, Innovate@BVSD, was held on June 7th and 8th. The event was organized by the IT EdTech and Innovation teams. Over 200 attendees including teachers, administrators, students, and parents participated in workshop sessions led by specialists and BVSD educators. Presenters shared strategies for purposefully integrating maker education, design and computational thinking, and technology tools into instructional practices to empower student voice and choice.

Attendees were inspired by Dr. Scott McLeod, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado Denver and BVSD parent, during the opening keynote. Dr. McLeod shared with attendees the “4 Big Shifts” that are present in schools that foster deeper student learning and engagement.


On day two, Heather Lister, Educational Consultant for Mackin and Teacher Librarian, kicked off the Pop-up Maker Expo with a conversation about the benefits of Maker Education to engage students in authentic learning via hands-on tinkering, exploring, and making.

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Pop-up Maker Expo
This year’s event included a Pop-up Maker Expo, a dynamic, kid and family-friendly event for educators, students, and parents to connect with members of the Maker community and learn about the resources they provide to help students make beyond the school walls and school day. The event featured over 25 organizations and vendors that support BVSD’s maker ecosystem.

Furniture and Innovation Gallery
This year’s Furniture Expo included an Innovation Gallery featuring architectural firms that have designed our Bond schools. Workshops were conducted in classrooms outfitted with flexible and versatile furnishings. Attendees experienced first-hand the benefits of innovative, collaborative spaces and considered how they can combine flexible seating and layouts to create agile and student-centered learning spaces.
Innovate@BVSD directly supports the BVSD Success Effect in developing talent and partnerships that fuel innovation, discovery, and exploration for all members of the BVSD learning community.

If you were not able to attend the event, check out the Daily Camera article about Innovate@BVSD 2017, search for the hashtag #innovatebvsd on Twitter to review event highlights, and visit our website for session resources.

Stay tuned for location and dates for Innovate@BVSD 2018.