ISTE, Road Trip, & PLN Love

This has been quite a summer, full of fun, travel, and friends. As I reflect on the past two months, I realize how blessed I am to have made so many wonderful memories during the summer of 2014!

This is the third year that my BFF Alaina and I have attended ISTE together, then taken a trip after the conference. This year’s adventure was a three week road trip that took us 4200 miles!


We started in Atlanta for #ISTE2014. This was my 5th ISTE conference, and it didn’t disappoint. The annual conference is a chance for me to reconnect and spend quality time with my PLN, which I NEED in order to get myself ready for a new school year. This year’s conference was extra special — this was my year that I’ve served as President of ISTE’s Librarians Network and I was recognized as one of ISTE’s Emerging Leaders.

All of our Librarians Network (formerly SIGLIB; even more formerly SIGMS) events were absolutely AMAZING! I was so stoked to finally meet the FABULOUS Jennifer LaGarde face to face at our Networking Fair. Jennifer also gave one of the BEST keynotes I’ve ever witnessed at our Librarians Network Breakfast. Seriously — Jennifer never ceases to blow my mind, and I am honored to call her a friend!


The Digital Age Library Playground has been one of my favorite events since my very first ISTE. It’s actually how I first got involved with the awesome librarians group at ISTE many years ago, so it holds a special place in my heart. This year’s event was no exception — so much great sharing and networking went on at the playground. I shared PicMonkey, which I use obsessively for photo editing and graphic design. (I’m so glad my awesome friend Nikki Robertson snapped and posted this picture of me at the playground! Thanks Nikki!!)

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Later that day, I was recognized at the ISTE Awards Luncheon as one of the ISTE members under the age of 35 to be recognized as an Emerging Leader. I’m so incredibly honored to now be part of this elite group of ISTE Emerging Leaders!


They also recognized the award winners at the middle keynote, so I was very excited to see myself on the HUGE screen!


I had a blast moderating our Librarians Network Forum: Marketing Your Library, which featured Michelle Cooper, Elissa Malespina, and Nikki D. Robertson. We had a packed house, and these ladies shared the amazing things they’ve done in their libraries.


Our final network event of the conference was the Librarians Network Annual Breakfast and Keynote. Before Jennifer’s awesome Zombie Librarian Keynote, we took some time to recognize the accomplishments of our network and the great leadership team that I have had the privilege of working with for the past few years. I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to lead and work with such amazing librarians from all around the world…it’s definitely been one of those “get back more than you give” situations for me, and I look forward to staying involved and plugged in with this awesome group! Shout-outs to Donna Macdonald (new President!), Sherry Gick (new President Elect!), Jenn Hanson (Communications Chair extraordinaire!), and Elissa Malespina (Professional Development Chair!) — such a great team!


After the breakfast, Alaina and I jumped in the car and hit the road…and the whirlwind began! We visited my family in North Carolina en route to Washington DC. We also made a pit stop at the Poe Museum in Richmond, VA.


We hit the ground running when we got to DC, seeing and doing as much as humanly possible in the two days we spent there!


We were lucky enough to spend the morning of July 4th in DC, witnessing the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives. So of course we dressed up!

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We spent the rest of the 4th with our awesome friends Matthew & Aimee Winner (and their precious son Jonah, too!). I love that so many educators who started as strangers, then became members of my PLN, and I now consider them to be dear friends! This trip was full of visits with library and teacher friends, which made it super special.


From Baltimore, we headed to New York to pick up my mom for a few fun days in the city. We saw the sights (including a Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour), saw some shows (Les Miserables and Bullets Over Broadway), and saw some friends!


Our friends Rose Luna and Margaux DelGuidice took us for a wonderful stroll along The High Line.


Also while in NYC, we met up with Elissa Malespina and her family for a yummy dinner at Trattoria Tercolori.


From NYC, we headed to our second presidential library stop in Hyde Park, NY to the FDR Presidential Library & Museum. (We also visited the Carter Library in Atlanta, which is my least favorite of the eight we’ve visited so far.) I definitely recommend visiting the home and museum in Hyde Park, it was a great stop! One of my favorite features was the little rooms set up where you could listen to fireside chats.


From Hyde Park, we headed to Newport, RI. This was probably my favorite stop of the trip! I am ready to start planning a trip back to New England, and spending several days in Newport, for sure. We visited The Breakers, one of the Newport Mansions.


Our next stop after Newport was Boston! At this point, we were in untraveled territory for me…and I do love a city! One of the highlights of this trip was visiting with Jenn Hanson and watching a Red Socks game from Bleacher Bar…what a cool experience!

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And of course we visited the JFK Presidential Library & Museum, too. From Boston, we took the beautiful scenic drive down Highway 1 to Portland. This was EXCELLENT road trip driving, folks!


We arrived in Portland in time for another one of the highlights of our trip…a lobstering excursion! Our cruise with Lucky Catch was so much fun. Not only did we get to see the beautiful coast from the water, but we got to participate in the whole lobstering experience!


From Portland, we headed up to Canada! We visited Montreal, which was very…French!


We also spent a night in Toronto, then we visited Niagara Falls! WOW!


In order to find our way home, we had to start covering some serious ground, with a few fun stops along the way. Of course we visited the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids (and another Oval Office replica photo, because we must)!


We drove through Indiana and made our way to Kentucky…of course we stopped at Churchill Downs in Louisville.


And our final stop was to visit the recently relocated CMS teacher Alex Young at her new home in Nashville! Of course we had to see the Country Music Hall of Fame (and Flat Fountain was happy to be there as well, of course).


And there you have it! 21 days on the road, 4200 miles (EXACTLY!), and countless memories. What stands out to me the most about this trip is the number of educator friends that we met up with and stayed with…so much PLN love!

Now it’s time to get in gear for the new school year. So much to do in so little time…but it was worth being on the road and living the summer life!


In just one month, educators from all over the world will flock to Atlanta for this year’s International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference!

This year will mark my fifth consecutive ISTE conference. My first ISTE conference was 2010 in Denver, and it was a life-changing moments for me. It was my first big conference, and it was there that I really came to understand the power of having a PLN and making face-to-face connections with people that inspire me all year long.

Now, ISTE is the conference that I look forward to the most each year. It’s not only a chance to make new connections and learn new things, but also to reconnect with the people who I now consider to be dear friends in addition to the professional inspiration they constantly provide.

This year’s conference will be extra special for a few reasons. This conference will mark the end of my year as SIGMS/SIGLIB/ISTE Librarians Network President. Our group has gone through some crazy rebranding/name changing with ISTE this past year, but we’re still the same awesome group of library leaders that are pushing to see technology used in engaging and innovative ways in our schools. After getting so much from the organization (and the Librarians Network in particular), I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to give back by serving in a leadership role. It’s been an amazing experience to work with an awesome leadership team (THANKS Maureen, Jenn, Donna, and Elissa — you are all so great)! This year’s conference will also be extra special because I’ll be recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Class of Emerging Leaders. It’s such an honor to be selected along with the others in this amazing group of young educators who are working hard to make a difference in their communities.

There are tons of great posts full of conference travel tips (one of my favorites is this one from my amazing mentor Gwyneth Jones and another great friend, Nicholas Provenzano, just shared his list here). Here are my tips for a great ISTE conference:

  1. Hang out and make connections. This is what the conference is all about, for me! Sure, there’s lots of great information in the MANY sessions that take place during the conference, but I think the most valuable connections and learning take place through conversations and meeting new people. Great ways to do this include volunteering (even if it’s your first conference, get involved and VOLUNTEER!), visiting the lounges, and attending events/parties. And make sure you have some business cards handy for when you meet new folks!
  2. Use the #ISTE2014 hashtag. Apparently the official hashtag is #ISTE2014 and not #ISTE14 this year. If you are attending the conference, you MUST take advantage of the power of Twitter before, during, and after the conference. And if you’re not able to attend the conference this year, following the hashtag will give you a wealth of resources so you can still learn from afar!
  3. Take in the city. I always make a point to do some fun sight seeing when attending a conference. There will come a point where your brain is completely overloaded, so plan something fun that will help you recharge your battery! This year in Atlanta, I’m super excited to visit the World of Coca-Cola and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (I absolutely LOVE a presidential library!).
  4. Don’t forget to eat. I always thought this was dumb when I saw it on conference planning lists…but then I realized that I never make time to eat at conferences because I just get so BUSY! Plan some lunch and dinner dates with friends at the conference. Grab something to eat and drink anytime you have the opportunity. Bring snacks. And water. This is just as important as wearing comfortable shoes and not forgetting your extra battery charger!
  5. Check out all of our awesome events with the ISTE Librarians Network! See and save the graphic below so you won’t miss any of these great chances to connect with awesome librarians and build your PLN!

Atlanta,Georgia,downtown skyline,dusk Will I be seeing you at ISTE this year?

And don’t forget…there’s still time to volunteer for the Digital Age Library Playground…sign up for a spot here!

The Incredible 2013-2014 Year!

***Disclaimer: I feel kind of uncomfortable writing this post. It feels a bit braggey to write about all of the great things that happened this year. I’m having a bit of trouble processing the fact that all of these things actually did happen this year. I have so much to be thankful for!!!

This year, I’ve had to pinch myself so many times to make sure the things that were happening were actually real! It’s been such a significant year for me professionally, full of so many AMAZING experiences that I will never forget! All of these crazy, incredible things happened during the 2013-2014 school year:

I gave my first keynote at ISLMA! I was a bundle of nerves and excitement leading up to giving my first ever keynote presentation back in November, but once it was go time, I had so much fun! Since I gave my very first presentation at LACUE in 2010, I knew that presenting was something I loved and wanted to pursue. The fact that I had the opportunity to keynote at a state school library conference just a few years later was humbling (and a little scary!), but AMAZING! I had an absolute blast sharing with and learning from the amazing school librarians in Illinois, and they will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me such an incredible opportunity!


And that was just the start of November. I also got to attend and present a number of sessions at AASL in Hartford with some of the school librarians I admire and respect the most! Just a few days after that, I received the news that I had been anxiously awaiting for months…I became a National Board Certified Teacher! YAY for November 2013!

I was lucky enough to spend my 29th birthday with some absolutely amazing educators in Missouri as a featured speaker at the METC conference. If you’re interested in seeing the video of my Power Up Your PLN presentation from METC, you can check it out here (although I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it…weird!). I had so much fun sharing and learning with the awesome educators at this FABULOUS conference!


In March, I was announced as one of Library Journal’s 2014 Movers & Shakers. Seriously, that happened to ME!!! I knew about it several months in advance (keeping that secret was hard!), and even attended ALA Midwinter for the Movers & Shakers photo shoot (shout out to Michael Pilla who took some great photos of us!). The fact that Joyce Valenza (my ultimate school librarian hero and role model) nominated me for this makes it even more unreal! This is so special to me, and something that I will always treasure.


I’ve always been proud of the fact that I’m an ISTE girl. When the decision comes to go ISTE or ALA (and that happens every year because those two conferences are always at the same time), I always opt for ISTE. I see myself as an educator first and a librarian second, so I’m always going to take advantage of the chance to connect and network with other tech savvy educators. I’ve also been serving on the leadership team for ISTE’s SIGMS/SIGLIB/Librarians Network (I’m not even going to get into the name changing right now…) for several years now, and I’m currently finishing up my year as President of our group. This is why it’s such an amazing honor to be selected as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders! And just when I didn’t think I could get any more excited about attending the ISTE conference in Atlanta this summer! Here’s the video that was part of my application for this award:

And finally, in local news…I was featured on the news last night! Because just one more surreal experience is what I needed to finish off this school year 🙂

One of our local stations, WBRZ, does a segment called “2 Make a Difference” where anchor Sylvia Weatherspoon shares stories of people who are making a difference in our community. I’m so honored to have been selected to be featured on this great segment! This piece really makes me realize how lucky I am to work in such a great school, where I am supported and respected, with INCREDIBLE students who inspire me every day! And I would absolutely not be where I am today without the constant support, encouragement, and inspiration from my PLN. An extra special THANK YOU to my awesome friend and mentor Gwyneth Jones, for getting together an awesome group of students to Hangout with my kiddos during the recording of this segment!

I know if I went back and counted the adjectives and exclamation marks in this post, it would be excessive…but I can’t think of any other way to describe all of these crazy, humbling, exciting honors that I have experienced this year. Thank you to all of my family, friends, coworkers, members of my PLN, and readers who have supported me in this career that I love so much…I would not be experiencing this success without you!

March Madness at CMS!

I remember thinking last year, “How cool!” when my friend Cathy Jo Nelson shared her March Madness display. When she shared a picture of her bracket for this year, I knew I wanted to steal this idea!

You should follow Cathy’s directions on her blog, especially where she explains how to seed the books. I didn’t think that hard before I started stapling, but I will follow the seeding rules when I do this again next year.

I ran the Destiny report that showed the top 25 circulated titles for this school year. For books that were part of a series, I just went with the first book in the series so I could have more variety in the selection. I also made some cute filler spots that I’ll replace with the winning titles along the way. Unsure of how much space this would all take up, I laid my bracket out on the tables (then moved to the floor when I needed more room) to see how much space I would need before I stapled everything on the wall. Yay for self-healing walls in the hallway!


I’m planning to use Google Forms for the voting each week of March. I’ll post the links on Schoology so students can vote. Also during the first week, I’m going to have a place for students to make their predictions for the winner, and I’ll do some type of drawing/give away for a prize at the end of the month. IMG_4063

I think this is going to be a lot of fun and a great way to get our students excited and talking about some awesome books!

Speaking of March Madness….

SIGLIB (formerly SIGMS) will be hosting our annual March Madness discussions on Facebook this year! Make sure you join our Facebook group and participate in our discussions throughout the month of March…we’ll have some great ISTE book giveaways along the way!

Librarians Rock!

I’m so excited to share two great links for you that are exciting AND library related during a time when I’m also posting lots of road trip stuff!


First, this has been in the making for quite some time! For the past year, I have served on the AASL Best Apps for Teaching & Learning committee. The AASL Best Websites have been hugely successful, and so I was very excited to be invited to join the team that would put together the first ever Best Apps list! We are all so very excited to see this list go out to educators, and the announcement was made at ALA in Chicago. Although I wasn’t able to be there for the presentation, I’m so happy and honored to have served with such an amazing group on this AASL committee!

Click here to see the 2013 AASL Best Apps for Teaching & Learning list!


I was so thrilled when I was asked to write a piece about ISTE, particularly about the SIGMS events, for School Library Journal. Even though it was hectic getting this written amidst crazy conference and road trip activities, this was really exciting for me and I’m happy to share the article with you now!

Click here for “Flipped Classrooms, Librarians as ‘Defenders of Wisdom’, and the Hottest Tech Tools” on The Digital Shift.

ISTE…THAT just happened!

So yeah…about those daily postings/videos. That didn’t happen…but ISTE did!

I’m writing this post from our little hotel in Whites City, NM at what I believe is 7:00 AM. I have a feeling that I am going to be constantly confused as to what time zone I’m in, and I’m trusting my phone to adjust accordingly (which probably isn’t the best choice, but whatever!). For future reference, if anyone is planning a trip to visit Carlsbad Caverns, book your room in Carlsbad far in advance. Otherwise, be prepared to find yourself at the Whites City Rodeway Inn, with a questionable grocery and far more questionable buffett as your only dining options for 20+ miles.

But what happened in those missing days between my last post and now? ISTE happened! And it was awesome! You can see the post below for all of the photos on the SIGMS Flickr set.

Alaina and I did this video on Saturday as we made our initial journey to San Antonio, but it never went public:

On Sunday, Alaina and I went to the Alamo. And it looked like I expected the Alamo to look.

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We also made the most of our time visiting with my dear friend Matthew Winner and his wonderful wife Aimee!


I was SO excited to meet Sherry Gick (@LibraryFanatic):

And I got to see my awesome friends accept their SIGMS Technology Innovation Awards at the Opening Ceremony! Matthew, Sherry, and Gretchen were the primary award winners, and my fellow Louisiana librarian Elizabeth Kahn and her collaborating teacher won the secondary award!

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The SIG Open House was loads of fun:

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The SIGMS Playground on Monday morning was HUGELY successful! You can find the links shared here on the wiki.

We had other great SIGMS events, including the Forum and Annual Breakfast & Keynote. It was such a great conference with amazing SIGMS events. I am so thrilled to be the new SIGMS President and work with an organization that supports the work that school librarians do in their schools with technology!

Our last night at the conference was Tuesday (although we had the SIGMS Breakfast the next morning), and Alaina and I had a BLAST at Ed Tech Karaoke with our new AMAZING friends Rose Luna and Margaux DelGuidice. It’s so great when you meet kindred spirits, and that’s exactly what Alaina and I felt with Rose and Margaux! They’re friends, collaborators, and travel buddies just like us!


We are off to see Carlsbad Caverns, then Roswell, then Albuquerque. Yes, that’s the agenda for TODAY! And we’re off…

Let the ISTE Adventures Begin!

Tomorrow morning, I’m headed to San Antonio for ISTE13! I’m so excited that I can hardly stand it!! Not only will I be attending my fourth awesome ISTE conference, but it’s the first stop in an epic roadtrip for me and my BFF Alaina!

There’s so much to look forward to at ISTE, including some incredible SIGMS events! There’s a SIGMS event every day of the conference, which I love because the chance to be with my library friends and meet new ones is the best!

I’m particularly excited about the SIGMS Playground, which I’m coordinating this year. We have some amazing volunteers that will be presenting their favorite resources at the Digital Age Media Center Playground…so if you’re at the conference, please stop by on Monday morning from 8-11:30.

BookMark4Check out the wiki for details on the presenters and links to their resources!

Here’s a complete list of SIGMS events:

SIGMS Open House (Sunday, June 23rd, 3PM-5PM)

SIGMS Playground (Monday, June 24th, 8AM-11:30AM) SACC Park View Lobby

SIGMS Reception (Monday, June 24th, 5PM-7PM) at Hard Rock Cafe

SIGMS Forum (Tuesday, June 25th, 3:45PM-5:15PM) with Shannon Miller, Michelle Luhtala, and their administrators. Moderated by Gwyneth Jones & Tiffany Whitehead.

SIGMS Annual Breakfast & Keynote (Wednesday, June 26th, 8AM-9:30AM) with John T. Spencer.

If you’re attending ISTE, please say HI if you see me! The best part of a conference for me is the chance to meet and expand my PLN!


I have a really awesome principal, and I wanted him to come to ISTE this year to present on the SIGMS Librarians & Admins Forum panel. Alas, he couldn’t make plans to attend because he’s becoming a daddy (congrats and YAY to Mr. Fountain and his beautiful wife)!! So Alaina and I had the brilliant idea to create a Flat Fountain (you know…like Flat Stanley) to come along on our ISTE and epic roadtrip adventures. I’ve started a Flickr Photo Set that you can check out…it’s where I’ll upload the Flat Fountain photos (I’m sure there will be lots)!

***Readers beware: Over the next two weeks, I plan to post daily (hopefully!!) videos to share what happens with ISTE and beyond as Alaina and I travel WEST! Some of these videos will not be library or tech related, so you have been warned! 🙂

Are you ready for ISTE 2013?

The annual ISTE Conference is always one of the major professional highlights of my year. I am so looking forward to this year’s conference in San Antonio. This will be my fourth consecutive year attending ISTE, and I would really feel like something major was missing if I didn’t have the opportunity to attend!

I will admit that my first ISTE experience in 2010 was a bit overwhelming…it’s such a HUGE conference. However, it’s massive size is reflected in its awesomeness as well, so if you are attending, prepare for information overload (but totally in a good way)!


This was the first time I met THE library rockstars, Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones, at ISTE 2010. It was a major celebrity sighting moment for me and my coworker thought I had lost my mind!

My biggest suggestion for anyone attending would be to volunteer. Over the last few years, I have become very involved with SIGMS (the Special Interest Group for Media Specialists) and it all started with volunteering at the conference. There are tons of opportunities to volunteer with ISTE and they do a great job of recruiting and organizing volunteers. Volunteers even get an awesome ISTE t-shirt for their efforts! The best volunteer opportunity, in my opinion, is the SIGMS Playground. Volunteers can give an informal 5-10 minute presentation at one of the six computer stations for a one hour or two hour time slot. This gives you a chance to share your favorite tool or resource with others! It’s such a great way to get involved…and you can tell everyone that you presented at an International technology conference!! Interested in getting involved with the SIGMS Playground? Contact me! This year, one of my duties as SIGMS President-Elect is to coordinate our SIGMS Playground. And how did I get so involved with SIGMS leadership, you ask? Well…I started volunteering for the playground back in 2011!

Click here to volunteer for the SIGMS Playground! (**All playground volunteer spots are now full, but please visit the SIGMS Playground on Monday from 8-11:30am!)

The best thing for me about the ISTE Conference is the opportunity to spend time face to face with the members of my PLN. I gain so much from them throughout the year with the things they share on Twitter, in their blogs, and through webinars. This is a chance to  have conversations and plan awesome collaborative activities that will have a lasting impact when I return to school in the fall.  So I asked some of my dear friends and amazing members of my PLN to either share three things they are most looking forward to for ISTE 2013 or three tips that they would share with other attendees. Here’s what they had to say…

Gwyneth Jones says…

1. Packing a Punch! It’s important to pack the right stuff – I blogged about this last year & would add an extra battery pack that’s either heavy duty or cute & sleek for all your iDevices & telephony needs! I also try not to take too much home – no paper hording, and not much vendor swag (frankly, it’s gotta be something super sweet to lure me to take it home) and bring a lightweight luggage scale if you can – that way you’ll know when to ship & when to check! — It could be a super stress & money saver!

2. Small conversations in big places. I absolutely adore re-connecting with my Peeps, Tweeps, & PLN friends! I love sharing on Twitter but there’s nothing better than conversations in person, bright smiles, & warm hugs! I like to hang out at the Blogger’s Cafe or the Social Butterfly lounge when not doing board duties or helping out presentations – this is where I find I have the best conversations and am able to meet new kindred spirits! I also like happy hours & small dinners over big parties – but then again, this girl goes to bed by 9:30 so well….there you go!

3. Pace Yourself – The first ISTE or NECC I went to was in Atlanta 07 and I was totally overwhelmed, overstimulated, & over achieving! I learned SO much and I’ve got to say that it inspired me to do even more for my kids & community but it was EXHAUSTING! I actually would go fierce early but fizzle out by 2 or 3pm – the crowds overwhelmed me! I would go back to the hotel, take a wee nap, and then go back out and socialize a bit. So, don’t be ashamed if you crash early, take a nap, or don’t feel like going to a late night bash. Of course, I know you’ll have good company if you do…man, that Joyce Valenza can dance until dawn!


Gwyneth Jones and I after our Hollywood Squares session at ISTE 2012!

Joyce Valenza  says…

I LOVE ISTE and this year there is no overlap conflict/sacrifice. I can attend both ISTE and ALA!

I am looking forward to learning formally and informally and FACE TO FACE from my generous colleagues. The mix itself is inspiring–the folks who are a part of our fabulous SIGMS, our classroom teacher edtech buddies, the admins, the vendors, the academics, the software developers, the publishers–all of whom have been part of, or will be part of, my PLN for years.

I love discovering newbie librarians and introducing them to ISTE!

From previous San Antonio conferences I know that it is important to go outside! The food, the music, the dancing, the shopping, and the River Walk rock!


Joyce Valenza, Nick Provenzano, me, and Joquetta Johnson at ISTE 2012!

Nicholas Provenzano says…

1. Take the opportunity to meet people from your digital life in person. It’s is a great chance to exchange smiles and hugs face to face.

2. Create your own learning experiences in the hallways. Not all sessions are going to work for you. Find a group of people and talk about what interests you at the moment.

3. Make new connections. It is always great to hang with old friends, but I love meeting new ones. Social events like #EduBros are perfect for meeting new people and growing your PLN.

Matthew Winner says…

1. Say Hi – Attending conferences is as much about learning lots in concurrent sessions as it is about networking, making new instructional partnerships, and forging collaborative relationships. Don’t be afraid to sit next to someone new, ask about their background, and share about yourself. YOU have something great to offer, even if you don’t realize it yet.

2. Have a Back-up for your Back-up – Sometimes sessions are full… or aren’t what you expected. Having a back-up plan ahead of time will help you stay on top of the conference schedule rather than fumbling through the program. You can also usually get handouts, etc. from the presenter’s session via the session page on the conference website. Oh, and if you have a friend with you, divide and conquer so you can cover even more ground.

3. Party Up – Find your way to the evening parties held recreationally (ie. Edubros) or from one of the vendors. These are great ways to make new friends, score some free products from vendors, and break the “conference focus mode”. It’s also a fun opportunity to meet many of those people you only know from Twitter.

Sherry Gick says…

As a “first timer”, the 3 things I’m most looking forward to are:

1. Meeting y’all, my Twitter rockstar PLN members face-to-face! Twitter has expanded my world, my connections, and the way I run my library. Each of you has been influential in my professional life the past two years because of your contributions to the education field and your willingness to share on Twitter and on other social media platforms.

2. The keynote speaker, Jane McGonigal! I’m so excited to hear her speak about gamification and her work. I’m such a Fangirl!

3. All the awesome sessions! I mean really…it’s ISTE! My conference planner is slam packed full of so many cool sessions (several being taught by you guys!) I’m looking forward to learning awesome new ideas to enhance my teaching next school year.

4. Visiting Texas! (Yeah, I know this was only supposed to be a list of 3 things, but I’ve never been to the great state of Texas. Can’t wait!)

Shannon Miller says…

The three things that I look most forward to ISTE this year….

1. Even though we connect with one another almost every day through social media, ISTE is the place that we get to reconnect with our wonderful friends in person. And the place that we can make new friends or meet the ones we have only met on Twitter or Facebook before. I love walking outside or hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe and seeing people I have known from Twitter….It is like you have met “a long lost friend” every time.

2. I love all of the connections that I make at ISTE with publishes, Web 2.0 creators, app developers, professionals, companies, experts and others. By making these connections I can bring so much back to the students, teachers and school community I work with.

3. This year I am most excited about my amazing friend Adam Bellow’s closing keynote at ISTE! He recently told me a little bit about it and I just cannot wait. We are all going to be inspired by his message.  

Elizabeth Kahn says…

1. Attending the conference for the state affiliate of ISTE has been a disappointment the last few years. I feel like I am light years ahead of everyone there, and I know that there is so much more for me to learn. So I am looking forward to networking and attending sessions with people who think like I do. Which means they are willing to stretch themselves and are willing to take chances with new ideas and new technologies.

2. I am definitely excited about meeting people F2F who I have “met” through social media.

3. I hope to leave with several new ideas that I can put into practice in my library next year. We are moving to a brand new building in August, and besides a new physical environment, I would like some fresh ideas for the program too.

SIGMS Technology Innovation Award

Do you have a collaborative technology project that you are proud of? I bet you do! Don’t be bashful about it! It’s time for you to share your idea with the rest of us! The SIGMS Technology Innovation Award is given each year to a librarian and classroom teacher pair who exhibit excellence in collaboration and the use of technology in a project or unit they teach. An award is given at both the primary and secondary level. In addition to getting the awesome recognition that comes with this award, winners also get complimentary conference registration, a $1000 travel stipend for the ISTE Conference (in San Antonio this year!), a $1000 cash award for their school media center, and a $300 professional library from ISTE.

Check out the ISTE website for more information on applying. And check out the information below to see what needs to be included in your award nomination. I’m telling you, this award is worth your time! As your friendly SIGMS President-Elect (that’s me!!), I would love to see the number of nominations for this award sky-rocket this year. I know that you people are doing amazing things in your schools, so share it through a nomination!

SIGMS Tech Innovation Award by