You can’t imagine the excitement I felt when I read the email telling me that 100 Word Challenge had been accepted at #ISTE2015 in Philadelphia!
For those of you who don’t know about 100WC (where have you been?!), it is a weekly writing project for students under 16. I set a prompt of a few words, a picture or part of a sentence and using the prompt, and the young writers have 100 words to produce a creative piece which is placed on a blog.
When posts are published, my team of around 700 volunteers visits and leaves supportive comments. This extended audience has provide huge motivation for even the most reluctant writer and being international both in entries and commentators it was an ideal subject for some global sessions at #ISTE.
We were only in Philadelphia for six days and saw and experienced so much; here are six of my favorite memories.
My first experience of the whole event was an invitation to brunch at the Sheriton Hotel, from Lucy Gray, Steve Hargadon and organizers of the Global Education Day. Those of us passionate about global education were able to gather to share ideas of what works and where next and, of course, to eat!
My joy was in getting to know many teachers who are part of the 100 Word Challenge commenting team and have students regularly enter pieces. It was a strange feeling to finally meet people who knew who I was but were unknown, apart from name, to me.
I have presented at other events and have some understanding of conferences like ISTE. What I was not prepared for were the long corridors between events. The ‘L’ shaped complex of the Pennsylvania Convention Centre actually occupies four blocks with a walkway on the first level that goes over the appropriately named Arch Road. This means that once you exit you can find yourself in another part of the city and completely lost. My solution to navigating this vast expanse was to retrace my steps at regular intervals. It might have meant a bit more walking but exercise is good for you – yes?
If you visit Philadelphia and have time for some sightseeing, you have to do the Rocky Steps. For those of you who have not seen the Rocky films (is it possible that these people really exist?), Silvester Stallone runs up a very long flight of stone steps at the front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of his training as a boxer and raises his hands in triumph when he gets to the top.
Well, it’s just got to be done hasn’t it? Once at the top, you experience a wonderful view down Franklin Boulevard and a great skyline of the city, to go with the fatigue from the climb.
Being sports fans, my husband & I couldn’t miss the chance of taking in a game of baseball. Coming from the UK we understand it is similar to rounders. Same idea – bats, balls, diamond, bases. Having won a trophy playing rounders for a youth team as a girl, I was keen to spot the differences.
Obviously there are a few like the length of the match! You could lose the will to live I think and in fact many spectators around us clearly had lost interest after a few innings. Nevertheless, we were intrigued by the whole spectacle and enjoyed a ‘cheese dog and fries’!
Along with Tina Schmidt and Michael Graffin, I conducted a two-hour poster session, aimed at sharing my passion for global education as well as the 100 word challenge. The response was brilliant, with many colleagues stopping to sign up and chat. I couldn’t get over the energy that teachers brought to the conference. Yes, it was time away from school but they were really committed to finding out about different resources and ways of teaching to improve the learning experiences of their students.
Known primarily as a popular children’s toy, Lego is now an engaging classroom resource with its links to Minecraft and gaming. I’m sure there was a stand in the Expo but there was also an exhibition in the Franklin Institute Science Museum. At the time we visited it was also hosting an exhibition ‘The Art of the Brick’ which would not have been out of place in an art galley. The works by Nathan Sawaya are truly amazing. How do you get rounded edges from rectangular blocks? The exhibition is on a world tour. Give it a go, and you will never think of Lego as just a children’s toy again.
So there you have it. A combination of conference and tourist. A collision of the 100 Word Challenge and one of the world’s most popular education technology conferences.
I’m definitely going to try to go to next year’s conference in Denver and tick off another city.
Next up is the Global Education Conference in November. See you then.
Grab your feee copy
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Julia is the creator of the 100 Word Challenge, which is used in over 85 countries with over 20,000 posts this year alone. This online project is providing class teachers with an ideal tool for many aspects of writing, both creative and clerical. It allows them to teach the finer skills of blogging as well as internet safety.