First Time at ISTE?

T-Minus 48 hours till ISTE.

Fourth trip for me. I’ve been fortunate. If you’re new to ISTE, here are my tips for getting the most out of the experience.

  1. Don’t plan every hour out. You’ll get distracted and fall off your schedule on the first day. Trust me, even if you fall off schedule, you’re going to find great stuff to check out.
  2. Pack light. You’ll walk miles. Comfy shoes. The least amount on your back.
  3. If you have a battery pack for your phone, bring one. There are LOTS of charging stations, but I don’t always want to sit at those things.
  4. Pack the lighted device possible. I’m going to bring a Chromebook and my phone. I find that I take more pictures of what I see than take notes since the poster sessions, playgrounds, vendor hall, etc are standing room only type of things. I took lots of photos instead. I would not bring a big laptop unless that’s all you have.
  5. Attend the poster sessions. These offer the greatest bang for your buck because they’re usually themed. For example, as a Technology Coach, I can hit up 10 poster sessions about being a Technology Coach all at once. Score! When you visit these, write down or photograph contact info. I spent a week afterward contacting people for follow up questions.
  6. Download the app. You can attempt to create your schedule and the Expo map rocks.
  7. Pack snacks. If you try to eat lunch when everyone else is, you’ll waste time standing in line. Eat a snack and grab an actual lunch before or after the rush.
  8. Stay off email. Be in the moment at ISTE. Work email can wait.
  9. Take photos. Your mind isn’t going to remember all that you’re taking in. Photograph playgrounds and poster sessions. Two weeks from now, you’ll be thankful you did.
  10. Wear comfortable shoes. No one cares what you look like. ISTE is like marathon running. You’re all looking rough at the end of the night. Who cares. Wear walking shoes and pants or shorts that don’t chafe. Haha.
  11. Attend networking events in the evening. Free food. Lots of new connections. Seriously, we want our students to branch out. We need to aswell. I’m a homebody hermit who would rather go back to my hotel room, but that’s not going to help me grow.

All in all — don’t pass up on anything. ISTE was a professional game changer for me. It will be for you too.

Why Expeditions are Amazing

This spring I’ve been able to take lots of kids on Google Expeditions to different countries, under the ocean, or to different parts across America. Each time I’m amazed at the kids’ reactions. Expeditions give kids a chance to witness without travel the most amazing places. Each time, kids are able to gain new information whether that be through imagery or text provided as part of the Expeditions App.

The University of Wisconsin – Platteville’s School of Education recognized that they could collaborate with the Platteville Public Schools in this endeavor. More to come on that later, but I’m thankful to know our SOE invests in their local school district.

Making IT Happen Award

Just like every other teacher, I keep truckin’ along. I don’t always know if I’m heading in the right direction or if the impact I’m making is big enough. Still, my heart says, “Do this.” And another day is in the books.

This winter two teachers nominated me for the ISTE Making IT Happen Award through WEMTA. I’ve heard of this award but never in a million years expected to be recognized like this. It means a lot to me that someone, “Hey you. Nice job!”

The Making IT Happen award is for someone that strives to keep pushing forward, beyond his or her own classroom walls, to impact change system-wide.

Recipients of this award are recognized at the state level and at ISTE in June. What an amazing opportunity.

For me, it’s a fantastic reminder that the work I do matters. Most days I feel like I’m not making impactful strides, and that people don’t see my role as all that valuable. Moments like this remind me that I’m on the right track.

The other reminder this moment gave me was to recognize others for their work. Teachers pour their hearts into the profession. Part of my job as a professional is to nurture other teachers and make sure they know their work is valued.

I wonder how I’m going to pass this on…


Teaching Technology Today

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It’s not about teaching the tools as much as it’s about teaching the ability to adapt to trying new tools and writing lessons that expand one’s thinking. I think about to the mid-2000s. Twitter was exploding with new technology tools. Every day I was flooded with an inbox or a twitter feed of new freemium tools to use — loved it! It was a great time to teach. That phase has long since passed, thankfully, and we’ve now entered a more pedagogical phase when our enthusiasm is governed with a grounded sense in whether or not a particular tool actually improves student learning. I like that. I get called-in to assist or train teachers in various educational technologies, and I always start out with this –> What do you want students to know and be able to do as a result of this lesson? Fifteen years ago, I’m not sure that ways always the first question we asked. Back then, it might have been, “How can I squeeze this sweet tech tool into class?” I’m glad those days are over.

A Vlog?!

I wanted to try a new adventure – vlogging. Okay, I’m not going to Vlog like all the famous ones my kids watch. I just wanted to try to use Youtube to share my story. Nuff’ said.

So in today’s blog, whoops, vaaaa-log, I wanted to talk about a book that I’m reading. You should really make a video about a book you’re reading too. Actually, you should make a bunch. I love learning about what others love to read. It’s inspirational and helps others open their minds to new ideas. So…what’s a book you’re reading lately? Make a Vlog about it!

Who Was Hanmer Robbins?

Being that I’m a teacher, I guess I’ve always been curious to learn about Hanmer

Robbins. Conducting class out of a log cabin, he was one of Platteville’s first teachers. He was also the town Superintendent of schools and contributed to the development of Platteville’s Normal School, a training school for teachers. Just 15 years after his death, Platteville built the Hanmer Robbins school, our first high school, I believe.

I set out today to find his grave. How fitting that he is buried just feet from John H. Rountree, the man I wrote about a few weeks ago (see photo below). After examining the stone, I realized Robbins died just months after Rountree. Their deaths must have marked the closing of a remarkable era for Platteville.

Robbins’ family gravesite can be found in Hillside Cemetery. I grabbed a 360 photo for you to help you find it for yourself:


John H. Rountree

Today’s photo is a modern twist on a founding father of Platteville. This is the grave of John H. Rountree, an early pioneer of Platteville. He leveraged his entrepreneurial spirit and civic leadership when he arrived in 1827. He purchased much of the land we know as the city today from the US government land office in Mineral Point, and then promptly mapped and promoted the village as a fine place to live. He started the first smelting furnace, sawmill, hotel, and store in the city. He was our first postmaster and even lead a militia to fight in the Black Hawk war. Additionally, he served in the Wisconsin State Senate multiple times. In order to keep this a post and not a book, I skipped many details. I’ll end with this –> His long list of accomplishments reveals a man truly invested in this land.

He is buried at Hillside Cemetery. I snapped a 360 photo of the graveside which would give you a good idea of where to see it in person –>

We might call ourselves the Pioneers, but I’m pretty John H. Rountree was the original.

A Hidden Gem

Platteville has several hidden historical gems that the average resident might not realize. We have several buildings in Platteville that are quite historic, but for some reason we don’t toot our historical horn in the same way Mineral Point does. No doubt, Mineral Point, for example, has many more historical buildings that we do, but we have plenty to share too. Thankfully, people like James Hubbard and the Grant County Historical Society have written about our lovely town.

One such is this building at 150 Market Street, just north
of city park. It currently houses Physical Therapist Specialist, but back in 1848, it was known as the Campbell House, a hospital and a hotel. What a combo, right?

In Hubbard’s book, the house had a 3rd story. Think of the stories this building could tell! Next time I’m at the Southwest Wisconsin Room, I’d love to research the Campbell House.

130 Market Street

This photo is a fun twist on a lovely building. The Spa Boutique at BarberShop Rock resides at 130 Market Street, just north of city park. Built in 1908, this beautiful structure was one of few houses at the time to be constructed of cement block. You should stop by sometime and check out the inside! I’ve only had the opportunity to go there once, but I can tell you the inside is so very cool. Much of the historic character is still in tact, yet the space has this super fun vibe that fits the business so very well. They did a great job blending a trendy spa with the historic elegance of the building. 

This building reminds me that it is possible to renovate without destroying the historical character of a building, inside and out. The two ideas can coexist.

I think I need to buy an old building and get this out of my system. Hm….