A letter to #ISTE18 and #NOTATISTE

To whom it may concern:

#Ditchpanel was trending at ISTE 2018. 400 people grabbed seats to hear seven educators speak openly and honestly about the trials and tribulations of creating classroom environments that follow moderator Matt Miller’s DITCH acronym (Different, Innovative, Tech-Laden, Creative, or Hands On). It was like sitting in our living room and having a fireside chat with passionate educators who are in the trenches.

This panel was not about ditching the textbook but rather changing the way you teach. I was lucky enough to be part of this amazing panel with people I had known on Twitter for years and met face to face at 7 AM that morning for a Ditch Family breakfast. This is the power of Twitter. It brings people together. We all use technology to amplify student voices and think about what we can do now that we couldn’t do before?”

Representing classroom teachers and administrators, the panelists inspired audience members to revolutionize student learning. We discussed how the DITCH mindset has changed us and what DITCH element was most important to us and why, engaging those in the audience and #NOTATISTE to answer too through Twitter. Lessons were shared that educators could use in their classrooms the next day. I reminded people to beg, borrow, and steal lessons. We build a culture of sharing. It is how we grow.

Each panelist showed his or her vulnerabilities, discussing when things blew up in his or her face, and how we dealt with pushback. Closing the classroom door is no longer an option. Let the innovation flow! We reminded the audience that it is powerful if things do not work out as planned. Reflection is key when things don’t go well. Model for students and colleagues and let them know it’s ok when things don’t go right. The conversation culminated with a discussion on favorite tools, procedures, and routines.

That night I ran into someone who shared with me that the panel presentation changed her life. She told me she now felt she could take more risks and was reminded of why she got into this profession. I wanted to bring a piece of advice from some of our panelists to you! This is what happens when a group of strangers meet on Twitter and start getting real.

Lessons from #ditchpanel #iste18
“The number-one thing is to get feedback from the students. Kids need freedom to make choices and explore. I had students use Flipgrid to record an interview with a parent about how they use percentages in real life. Students see relevancy and the parents see how the tool is used.“ –Sean Fahey

5 educators share their #ISTE18 experiences

“At back-to-school night parents need to come with their child’s Google log in. Just like the kids, they go into Google classroom and open the presentation for the evening. They watch a Flipgrid of their child sharing his or her hopes and dreams and then create one for their child. I teach the parents and make them part of my classroom.” ‪‬–Rayna Freedman

“When thinking about which DITCH is important to me, I just say pick one. I had fifth-grade buddies with my class for Global Read Aloud. Through Skype, Google Sites, Flipgrid, and Padlet we held book discussions for Long Walk to Water. We made BookSnaps with our buddies, and I had a student who did not love to read but changed his mindset just to make his BookSnap.” –Krista Harmsworth

‬“It’s not about the app. It’s about the connection the app provides! I want to peek into the minds of my students. Use technology to connect with a student’s heart.” –Tara Martin ‬

If you were one of the 400 joining us for an hour or were not able to attend, we are just a tweet away to help you with ideas to reach your students, teachers, and administrators. That was the biggest message people left the panel with. Technology allows us to build relationships and reach into the hearts of others. Thank you #ISTE18 for having us!

XOXO
Rayna Freedman (& The Ditchbook Crew)

About the Author:

Eileen Belastock is director of technology for Mount Greylock Regional School District in Williamstown, Mass., and a board member of MassCUE, an ISTE Affiliate.

Dr. Cathy Collins has worked as a library media specialist for 15+ years. Currently, she is a library media specialist and China exchange coordinator for Sharon (MA) Public Schools. She has served on MassCUE’s Board as PD Chair since 2015. She received a “Teachers for Global Classrooms” fellowship from the U.S. State Dept. in 2014 and is the recipient of AASL’s Intellectual Freedom Award (2014). She was named an MSLA “Super Librarian” in 2015, and also received the HNA/Primary Source “Teacher of the Year” award in 2015. She joined ISTE’s PLN STEM Leadership Team in 2017.

Rayna Freedman is a fifth-grade teacher at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, Mass. She has taught grades 3-5 and is an ITS. She is a member of the MassCUE Board of Directors and has been presenting at the annual conference since 2010. She is a BrainPOP certified educator, Flipgrid Ambassador, Fablevision Ambassador, and advocate for teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. She serves on the DESE Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Panel.

Kelly Healey is an education consultant assisting in the process of modernizing education, increasing student achievement, and moving schools forward. Throughout her career, she served as a K-12 classroom teacher, dean of students, district ESL specialist, and operated in multiple capacities as an education consultant.

Kimberly Zajac is a speech/language pathologist in Norton (MA) Public Schools. She is a board member of MassCUE and serves as co-leader of the MassCUE SLP and Special Educator Special Interest Group.