Getting Ready for the #ICE19 Conference – Featured Speakers, Thursday Events, and Breakout Sessions

This post is my third connected to my Getting Ready for the #ICE19 Series. My first post was all about the incredible workshops and my second post explored the Exhibitor Hall Experience.

Planning your schedule for any educational conference can be a daunting challenge and the 2019 Illinois Computer Educators Conference is no exception There are so many incredible educators sharing so many incredible things, it is hard to even know where to start. This post includes a few tips on getting started organizing and planning your day of sessions and speakers.

Keynote and Featured Speakers


The easiest place to start planning your day is by checking out the Keynote and Featured Speakers for the conference this year. I’ve been lucky enough to learn from and with many of these speakers in the past and they are truly an inspiring group. I love these educators!

You can view the full list of the Keynote and Featured Speakers on the ICE Conference PageYou can also filter the ICE Conference Schedule by Featured Speakers or Keynotes.

Creating Future Ready Schools Workshop at #ICE19

I’ve been lucky enough to attend a Future Ready Workshop in the past and I always walked away inspired and motivated. The ICE Future Ready Workshop will be another great learning experience for everyone registered. (This event does require a separate registration on the ICE Conference Site.)


“This workshop is designed for interested district and school-based leaders (Admin in charge of PD and Curriculum, Principals, Librarians, Instructional Coaches) to explore effective school-based strategies that assist in providing robust and innovative student experiences for all students. Grounded in leadership and school culture, participants will leave with tangible strategies to build strong instructional partnerships, foster change and collaborative learning, and deploy effective strategies for a Future Ready school.”

The ICE /IETL Leadership Summit at #ICE19


I’ve been fortunate to see several of Dr. Joe Sanfelippo’s keynotes in the past and I don’t have enough words explain how much I admire him as an educational leader. I know the Leadership Summit to be a great experience for everyone.  (This event does require a separate registration on the ICE Conference Site.)

“Join ICE and IETL for their annual Leadership Summit, this year, with Joe Sanfelippo. You will not want to miss this experience with Dr. Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent of Fall Creek School District in Wisconsin and renowned national author and speaker. Based on his book Hacking Leadership, Dr. Sanfelippo has designed an energetic, interactive workshop, aimed at building leadership at all levels and finding innovative solutions to issues that have plagued the system for years. Built on intentionality, opening doors and developing staff, you�ll take away practical applications that can be implemented tomorrow!”

Illinois Computer Educator Conference Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions are hour-long sessions on a variety of educational topics. I think of these sessions are the main event on all 4 days of the conference. Popular sessions often fill up fast during the conference, so don’t be late! 


Here are some of my favorite presenters and friends who will be facilitating breakout sessions this year. I know this is a long list, I consider myself fortunate to know quite a few awesome educators. 

Now that I am almost done with this post, I am a bit nervous that like an Academy Award Honoree I may forget to thank someone.  In fact, I am sure I am probably missing some important people and sessions. If I know you and missed you, I am sorry. No slight intended. I still love you!

There are also many great presenters I’ve never had a chance to learn with who will be presenting at the conference.  I highly recommend visiting the ICE Conference Sched to exploring more sessions to find your own favorite speakers and sessions.

So now it is now your turn. Who are you the most excited to learn from this year? Please share!


If you are interested in more #ICE19 Tips, please take a moment to explore my other ICE19 Posts


Student Designed Learning Experiences

This post is a reflection on a recent activity where my students created HyperDocs. My goal in this post is to share both the experience and resources connected to the activity. If there is something here that can be adapted and used, feel free to copy and modify anything shared here. 

I’ve been using HyperDocs as one way to engage students for several years in my AP Environmental Science Courses. It is not always perfect, but I enjoy the experience of creating and revising interactive student-centered learning experiences for all of my students.

The Problem I have to admit that I’ve struggled a bit this year getting my learners to take ownership of their own learning experiences. Most years students generally fit into 1 of 3 categories when I start to make the shift from teacher-led to student-centered experiences. 

  • Category 1: Not Me!
    I get to choose what to do? I’m not doing much then.
  • Category 2: This is Great!
    I get to choose what to do? I love that I have a choice in how I engage in the content.
  • Category 3: Tell Me!
    I have to choose what to do? I don’t learn this way, can’t you just tell us what we need to know? 

Normally after a few weeks, most of my learners to take ownership, learn to enjoy the process, and engage fully in our student-centered learning experiences.  This year I have more students who prefer to do nothing or who would prefer that I lecture daily. 

Revising how I teach is what I do, so I am always exploring a variety of different strategies to engage students. I get bored if I am always doing the same old stuff. This year it has been a struggle for me to find ways to engage some of my students in the HyperDocs I’ve created and shared. I’ve enjoyed the struggle, but it has been harder on me than I would have thought. I am adjusting, but getting everyone to engage consistently has been elusive.

The ActivityMy PLN has always been there to help me explore new strategies and tools to support learning.  My PLN has come to my rescue once again. A recent post in the HyperDocs Facebook Group inspired me to try something new that I think worked very well to engage almost all of my students. After reading this Facebook I decided to have my students design HyperDocs that they would share with other students. 

The stated goal was to engage my students in exploring the Consequences of Climate Change by creating learning resources for other students, but my ulterior motive was to see if my students had some ideas and methods to engage all learners that I’ve yet to discover. My students partnered up after I introduced the topic and we had 3 days (45 mn periods) to create interactive learning experiences. My students have created quizzes, presentations, and all types of graphics, but this was the first student-centered lesson I’ve ever asked them to create.

I decided to sell this activity as a competition and I hooked the students with the idea of doing it better than me. I introduced the project with a promo for “Beat Bobby Flay” and we were off and running.


I also built my own HyperDoc connected to the same content as the students were building their versions. I decided to use Google Slides and Pear Deck to create my entry.


If you like to make a copy of this HyperDoc Pear Deck Slide Deck, click here.

In the end, we didn’t evaluate these in a competitive way, but we all had some fun talking smack about how much better our creations would be. I created this form for the students to evaluate each other’s work. If you would like a copy of this rubric that you can use/modify, click here

The Results

The students were very engaged in the creation, design, and the completion of the HyperDocs. Most partners worked bell to bell and still needed to spend some time at home perfecting their creations. I listened to some great conversations within the groups and the verbal feedback they shared with each other was excellent. Here are some samples that stood out from the 30 HyperDocs created by my students. 

Here are some of my takeaways from the process and the completion of this activity.

  • Many of my students used the same tools and techniques to engage each other in collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. 
  • I would have liked to see the students approach creating the HyperDocs more from their perspectives. I think many of them were trying to match what I have been doing without truly thinking if there is a better way. 
  • Many of the students focused more on the content, so quite a few of the HyperDocs were more little more than Docs with links. The content is important, but I still want them to understand that there is more to learning than memorization of facts. 
  • Students love the idea of having both a video and written resources for each section or concept. They want to have the choice to watch the video or read through a website whenever possible. I need to do a better job of providing and emphasizing choice in my HyperDocs.
  • Critical thinking questions are something we need to work on. Many of the HyperDocs only asked basic knowledge level questions connected to a video or link. The students like this because “the answers are more clear”, but they are not asked to explore deeper in most of the HyperDocs
  • Many of the groups focussed on the first resource they found in a YouTube or a Google search even if it might not have been the best. We need to work on evaluating resources for learning.  Only a few groups provided additional resources for curious exploration. 
  • The average score of the student evaluations of each other’s HyperDocs was a 46/52. This was a bit higher than my evaluation and I don’t know if the students were trying to be nice, or if these scores truly reflect what the experienced. I need to spend some more time connecting the low and high scores to the activities in the respective HyperDocs to figure this out.
  • They want to draw more both digitally and on paper when working through a HyperDoc. I need to remember to add in some additional sketchnote suggestions to future HyperDocs. 
  • They want more “notes” in the HyperDocs that they can connect to the activity directly. I’ve always told them to connect the activities to our assigned readings, but I need to remember that they don’t always do the readings in a timely manner. 
  • I need to narrow the focus on some of my HyperDocs. I am going to look at breaking down some of my larger HyperDocs into smaller pieces.

Overall I enjoyed the experience and I think that I will do something similar with an even smaller focus in the future. I may also have my students create activities for each other connected to our exploration in some of my existing HyperDocs.

If you have questions or comments, please let me know. 

The #ICE19 Conference Experience – Exploring The Exhibit Hall & Connecting with Exhibitors

If you are interested in more #ICE19 Tips, please take a look at my post connected to the conference workshops. I will also be sharing some of my breakout session recommendations next week and share some of my tips for the conference soon after that. 

ICE attendees will want to dedicate some time to explore and learn about the incredible things that are happening in the Exhibitor Hall to support all educators and learners. Attendees will also have a chance to take part in the “The Escape the ICE Conference” experience. This new experience challenges attendees to make connections with exhibitors as they explore the exhibitor hall and compete to escape the conference. The Escape Experience is hosted by Travis Allen, one of the keynote speakers this year. 


Conversations with exhibitors can add so much to the ICE Conference learning experience. The ICE 2019 Exhibitor Hall can be an awesome learning experience. The exhibitors are friendly and the swag is out of this world. There are also incredible mini sessions, book signings, the Tech Playground (Robotics and Coding), the Playful Learning Space (eSports and Gamification), the PLN Plaza, and more. 


Before attending the conference, I recommend creating a list of at least 5 to 10 exhibitors that you would really like to learn more about. There is nothing wrong with wandering but having a short list to start with is a great way to make sure you are efficient with your time and don’t miss something. 


While I hope to have time to visit every exhibitor, I am building a list of exhibitors that I really want to meet. If anyone is curious about my list, here it is in alphabetical order with a brief description of each exhibitor. I am approaching the exhibitor hall with a High School teacher’s mindset, so I am my focus is more on exhibitors who I think can support my student’s learning experiences. 


Bird Brain Technologies (Booth 335)
BirdBrain Technologies serves as a catalyst for transformative, physical computing-based learning experiences for all students. Our products, the Finch Robot, and Hummingbird Robotics Kit empower students to take ownership of their technical and creative skill-sets and engage in flexible problem-solving activities.

Classcraft (Booth 405)
Classcraft is a platform that transforms any classroom into an adventure. Acting as a gamification layer around any existing curriculum, the game revolutionizes the way a class is experienced throughout the school year, with a focus on behavior management and personalized learning.

Codemonkey (Booth 1233)
CodeMonkey is a game-based educational learning environment that offers a variety of coding courses that range from helping a monkey catch bananas by writing real code to programming chatbots. CodeMonkey�s courses are designed as a classroom resource and do not require teachers to have prior knowledge to successfully roll-out.

Eblox (Booth 437)
E-Blox is an emerging leader in educational electronic products that engage children in a whole new generation of educational toys that provide a STEM/STEAM education. E-Blox stimulate imagination and creativity through interactive storytelling, creative reasoning, and systematic building of objects that provide endless hours of fun and learning.

EdTechTeam (Booth 834)
EdTechTeam is a global network of educational technologists dedicated to inspiring and empowering other educators. EdTechTeam provides change management, strategic planning, and professional development services to schools and districts. We invite you to partner with us to transform teaching and learning in your organization.

Imagine Learning (Booth 509)
Imagine Learning delivers award-winning language, literacy, and mathematics solutions for K�12 students, revolutionizing the way kids learn. Students and teachers love Imagine Language & Literacy, Imagine Math, Imagine Math Facts, and Imagine Espa�ol because they are research- and evidence-based, data driven, instructionally differentiated, and incredibly fun to use.

Media Technologies (Booth 511)
Media technologies manufactures innovative furniture for learning environments. Since 1979 we have been providing creative solutions for school media centers, classrooms, labs, commons, and makerspaces. 


Otus (Booth 611)

Otus is a technology platform for K-12 classrooms, schools, and districts that combines classroom and learning management tools, assessment management features, and a student data management system in one place.

Pear Deck (Booth 423)
Created by Educators for Educators, Pear Deck is an intuitive suite within Google Apps for Education that facilitates 100% student engagement and real-time formative assessment. Build slide presentations from scratch or import existing Google Slides or PDFs. With unlimited storage and sharing capabilities, the options are endless.

Project Lead the Way (Booth 810)
Project Lead The Way provides transformative learning experiences for PreK-12 students and teachers across the U.S. We create an engaging, hands-on classroom environment and empower students to develop in-demand knowledge and skills they need to thrive.

Rocketbook (Booth 836)
Rocketbook makes endlessly reusable, cloud-connected notebooks. With our companion scanning app, users can easily organize and instantly send handwritten notes to a multitude of cloud-sharing services, emails, or texts. With a little water on a cloth, notebook pages can be wiped completely clean and endlessly reused.

SymbalooEDU (Booth 815)
Symbaloo helps you organize your web resources and deliver the right content, in the right place, at the right time, to the right person.

Texthelp (Booth 421)
Hello, we�re Texthelp. We believe that literacy is every student�s passport to academic, social and professional success. It�s our genuine desire to help students understand, learn and express themselves. We create user-friendly literacy and learning solutions, that provide the support each student needs; through reading, writing, math, and research features.

Wonder Workshop (Booth 823)
Wonder Workshop are the creators of the award-winning Dash, Dot, and Cue robots, found in over 15,000+ elementary schools throughout the US. We bring wonder and excitement to learning coding and robotics with our aligned curriculum, professional learning, and robots.


This is by no means a complete list. There are some exhibitors who are new to me that I will also be visiting. Attendees can create there own plans using the Exhibitor Hall Map and Exhibitor List before venturing into the exhibitor space.

I am also going to wander and make sure I visit at least exhibitors that I don’t know much about as part of my ICE experience.

Most exhibitors also love to make connections through social media. If you have a favorite or have a great experience meeting someone, be sure to give them a thank you on Twitter. Be sure to tag them (@ . . . ) and use the hashtag #ICE19


If you have a favorite exhibitor that I missed or question please post in the comments below.

If you are interested in more ICE Tips, please take a moment to explore my other ICE19 Posts


Coding Resources for Every Classroom

Very few people grow up to be professional writers, but we teach everyone to write because it�s a way of communicating with others�of organizing your thoughts and expressing your ideas. I think the reasons for learning to code are the same as the reasons for learning to write. When we learn to write, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas. And when we learn to code, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas in new ways, in a new medium. 

Mitch Resnick

I am currently engaged in the Spring 2019 ISTE ETCoaches Book Study and Slow Chat. We are exploring the book Learning Supercharged: Digital Age Strategies and Insights from the Edtech Frontier by Lynne Schrum with Sandi Sumerfield. One of the topics connected to the first chapter is coding. 
The reading and the chat inspired me to dive a bit deeper into resources connected to coding in the classroom. I’m writing this post to share a glimpse into my exploration. I definitely have a lot to learn, but the first step is getting started. 

Why Coding?
My exploration first led me to explore why coding is important in today’s schools. Like so many learners, I started with a quick Google search to begin my exploration. I discovered that there are quite a few great posts, articles, and resources connected to coding. Here are a few that I enjoyed exploring connected to the why behind coding in education.

What Resources Exist to Support Coding in Schools for Teachers and Students?
There are quite a few great coding sites to support teachers and students. Here are a few that might be worth exploring.

I know there are many other great coding resources and if you are looking for something more, Common Sense Media has a great list of coding apps and websites. 

Coding With Robots?
I’ve visited a few Makerspaces and I love some of the creative things that students are doing with coding and robots. Here are a few coding robots that might be worth exploring.

Coding Without Devices?
There are also some great resources to learn about coding that don’t require a device. Here are a few that might be worth exploring.

What Books Support Coding in Education?
Here are a few books that I am adding to my reading list. 

I know many educators are miles ahead of my exploration when it comes to coding. Please feel free to share resources and ideas in the comments below.