Reflecting on #ISTELive ’21

Dear Teachers,

This past week I had the privilege to attend the virtual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education. As many participants noted, I missed the opportunity to connect with other like-minded professionals face-to-face, but I LOVED being able to attend sessions that were occurring simultaneously through the magic of video. Being able to view concurrent presentations, whenever I want, is almost like having Hermione’s time-turner. Or something.

Anyway, my brain is very full right now, and I’m trying to process some of what I learned, and how I’ll share it all.

For starters, I can’t wait to share with my Dyslexia friends a couple of new tools that I think are amazing and will really make a difference for students and teachers. The first is Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams. This tool allows students to record themselves reading a pre-assigned reading passage, in their own time, and without the pressure of reading for the teacher. The teacher can then review each student’s video for fluency. The program will flag words where the student stumbled, and there are lots of analytics available to help the teacher understand where to focus their efforts in each child’s oral reading development. I’m a huge fan of Mike Tholfsen, product manager on the Microsoft EDU team, who provides helpful videos and blog posts about lots of the Microsoft EDU products, and just seems in general like a nice human. View a video about Reading Progress here; it’s my understanding that it will be available for everyone by the end of August.

The second tool I learned about to help students with their reading is called Clusive, from the good folks at CAST. It incorporates many of the features of Microsoft’s Immersive Reader but has some additional functionality. (It’s also lacking some features that Immersive Reader has.) You can read more about Clusive on this page. Both Reading Progress and Clusive are new and FREE, and I’m excited to see how they will be able to help struggling learners.

Screenshot of Clusive interface

Because I’m venturing back into the world of libraries (YIPPEE!!) in an evolving role at my Service Center, I attended several library-related sessions. Of particular interest to me were some presentations on media literacy. I truly believe that teaching media and information literacy is a moral imperative for educators, and that we can’t overemphasize the need to teach students (and the adults in their lives) the skills of fact-checking. Jennifer LaGarde, Darren Hudgins, and Kristen Mattson co-presented a session titled “Ethics and Media Literacy in a Digital World”; Jennifer and Darren immediately followed that one with a shorter session titled “Developing Digital Detectives One Meme at a Time.” I really appreciated how Jennifer drew such a direct line between social-emotional learning and media literacy, and how we have to help kids recognize that when a clickbait-y headline makes us feel angry, that is a signal to PAUSE rather than hit the retweet button. She shared a great list of resources on this Wakelet.

Karen Kelsall-Lagola is a new Twitter connection I’m happy to add to my PLN after attending her “Win the War on Fake News” presentation. In addition to the reminder about the sheer volume of content exchanged or uploaded, as the graphic to the right represents, Karen also provided a link to a study in Science Daily that found “when “true” and “false” labels were shown immediately after participants in the experiment read headlines, it reduced people’s misclassification of those headlines by 25.3 percent.” The timing of a debunking (vs. “prebunking”) is something I hadn’t considered before, and a concept that I want to explore more as I create my own presentations about media literacy.

LeeAnn Lindsey had probably the best session title of all those I attended: “Why We Shouldn’t Teach Digital Citizenship (and What We Should Do Instead).” Everyone in her audience seemed as intrigued by that title as I was, and she did not disappoint in her delivery. After highlighting 5 reasons why discrete “digital citizenship instruction” (direct teaching, packaged in stand-alone lessons or highlighted only once or twice per year) simply isn’t enough, she described a path of creating a culture of digital citizenship. I liked her “7 Keys to Unlocking a Culture of Digital Citizenship” graphic, and her Padlet activity is one I’ve already stolen admired and acquired in a session on digital citizenship that I’m facilitating this coming week. LeeAnn called my attention to Lauren Villaluz‘s terrific sesion on Digital Wellness, another one I was happy to have caught. Digital Connect Four, y’all – be sure to note that each game piece is linked to a different discussion question. Brilliant!

The third area of focus in my first round of ISTE viewing (because I definitely intent to go back and watch more of the recordings!) was equity. Henry J. Turner and Victoria Thompson, in separate sessions, addressed issues of racial equity as they relate to technology. Henry emphasized the Design Thinking process in being an antiracist technology leader and designing an antiracist culture. I’m quite happy to have signed up for his mailing list that promises “social justice leadership ideas and strategies,” since I’m a firm believer that ALL of us in education should be social justice leaders.

Victoria challenged us to amplify the voices of prominent scientists, authors, and political figures of color ALL THE TIME, not just in special “months” reserved for a subset of the population. She also called for tech companies to be more equitable in the kinds of images they provide for use on their platforms – not having “only blonde white children” in their stock photo reserves, for instance. Two questions she proposed caused a “one-degree shift” (thank you, Katrice Quitter) in my thinking about selecting resources: who is centered in the resource, and who could be impacted in this resource, either positively or negatively?

Since this post seems to be going on forever, I will save other takeaways for another day. If you’d like to take a look at my [as yet still poorly organized] Wakelet of resources from the sessions I attended, you can click here.

I hope you’re having a great, relaxing summer.




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