I hope everyone is having a great week so far, I just recently returned from Tucson, Arizona where I was part of The Mobile Learning Experience 2015. I originally sent my proposal to talk about Dice UP the Classroom, Roll out learning earlier this year and was surprised that when I was emailed back not long after saying that my proposal had to been accepted. After working out travel plans over the last couple of months, I arrived Wednesday morning in Tucson at the beautiful Westin Resort thanks to my wonderful Aunt Gloria, who drove me from Phoenix down to the conference. After chatting with some teachers from the area I headed towards the main room and after taking in the awe of the room sat down towards the front and was soon greeted by Tony Vincent. After we chatted a bit, he headed off to get ready for the opening and I met with other great educators like Jenny Ashby, Adam Bellow, Michael Buist, Felix Jacomino, Katherine Burdick, Jon Samuelson, Sara Crawford, Rodney Turner, Dierdre Shelter and a host of others. Following the opening key note and seeing Dr. Kathy Weibke be awarded the ISTE professional development award I headed off to the many sessions that were occurring.
After the first hour, I headed to Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild’s session, which I was looking very forward to. Being the first in the room I was able to talk with Tim and Sarah and was recruited into their presentation along with Tony Vincent. Tim told me I was going to play the part of the pick pocket and having a previous degree in Theatre I marveled in playing the roll and having a great time with the story session. I also received Thinking Dice as being a part of the session and I absolutely love these dice. You roll them and then ask questions based on what comes up. Let’s say I was trying to come up with a report on the Civil War. I roll one of these die and the question: “Who was it that…?” comes up and makes you think about it. So, I could say: “Who was it that started the war?” or “Who was it that shot Abraham Lincoln?” They are so amazing and I highly recommend checking out Tim and Sarah’s site or as Tim calls it: “Bloooogggg!” and looking in to getting your own Thinking Dice. Just click on the hyperlinks. After wards I headed to a few more session before getting ready for dinner and listening to Tim’s dinner keynote and building clay creatures along with my new friends and associates. After dinner and some chit chat, I headed back to my room, unloaded my various items and then joined Rodney and Deirdre outside and talked awhile, it was a fantastic experience.
On Thursday I was up early and had been invited to Michael Buist Coffee Edu and met up with everyone else who was invited and enjoyed some great chats and laughs over coffee before we all headed over to listen to Tony’s Make it your Own, breakfast Keynote and learning that when students make it their own, they are empowered to learn and create. Great way to kick off the morning before heading to Felix’s session about Sharing it, it’s so human. Wow! Great session about how technology should work in the classroom and sharing what you create with others. The music conducting video he shared with just breath taking. Just click on the link and you will see. After that, I had to scurry off to my own session and caught the end of Wesley Fryer’s Sketchnotes session that was very nice before throwing on my jedi robe and getting a few snapshots taken by Sara and then presenting Dice UP the classroom. I finally met Penia Rybak, who has been a supporting of my work and vice versa for a while and then I pulled out my App Dice and the link and away I went. I only talked towards a crowd of about twelve but they stayed during my entire session and I of course brought them into my activities. I just love seeing the faces when they say what they could create from an iPad to Google Apps for education. My biggest hits were of course my App Dice and using Riddle and my Teach Like a Pirate lessons. My session had spread around Twitter and by word of mouth and I was stopped many times and asked several questions about some of the Apps and techniques I used. It was great. After lunch, I finally got to meet Erin Klein and the two of us had a wonderful chat and I just loved her session. So many of her lessons and resources are so simple and yet powerful at the same time, I even ended up subscribing to her son’s youtube channel about building forts.
After snack break, it was time for the Ignite session, which a dozen presentations back-to-back! Each presentation has exactly 20 slides timed to advance every 15 seconds. That gives each speaker exactly five minutes. Presentations will be about a variety of mobile learning topics and stories. I was the third speaker and I was coming off of Tony Vincent and Alice Christie’s sessions, so I knew I would have a tough act to follow but I got up there, wearing my Jack Kirby Avenger’s shirt and my jedi robe and did my Ignite session on Appification, which combines Gamification Learning with Mobile Apps and Learning. I have to say it went amazing. I had not slept well the night before not only from the heat of Arizona but because I was rehearsing both my sessions and was both excited and a bit scared but as each slide went on I grew more and more confident. After all, Life is a Stage as Dave Burgess taught me and I ignited but I did get a bit teary at the end of my session hen I not only brought up a picture of one of my students who had succeeded in several awards, a few that were a result of my Application but also one of my graduating seniors. She had told me at her graduation party that while our science teacher was her favorite teacher, she would miss me the most. I did choke up at the end and I saw several other audience members get chocked up too by the time I left the session. Afterwards I listen to the rest of the ignite sessions including seeing tech fail for Rodney Turner’s “Why me?” which was perfectly titled and very powerful, Deirdre telling us that perfection doesn’t exist so get out there and be an innovative teacher. Jon Samuelson’s session really hit me about what he has gone through and where he is now and not giving up. In the end, every session was amazing and at the end, Tony did a radom drawing for an Apple TV with all of the session speakers and shocking enough, I won! Tony even said: “I wish I would have gotten a picture of Ryan’s face.” I was just in such shock and so amazed that I won.
After dinner, I joined as many educators at Felix’s Speed Apping session where much like Speed Dating you talk about demonstrate two to three Apps to people in ten minute sessions before getting up and moving to the next table. I did presentations on using Touchcast along with Touchcast remote, Adobe Slate and Zoobe. There were even several families going through the Speed Apping as well. I had a lot of educators who asked me about the Apps afterwards before I joined everyone outside to look through this amazing telescope during the Star Gazing that was part of the event. I talked with Wesley Fryer most of the night along with everyone else and saw Sarah’s cute baby boy, who was ironically enough named: “Ryan” too. After a late evening and chatting with everyone from Tony to Tim Rylands, I called it a night. On the final day, after checking out of my room, met up with Jonathan Nalder, also from Australia like Jenny and the two of us had a wonderful chat during breakfast before meeting up at his Wearable Technology sessions and then heading over to Bart Buckinx’s Widget Session that I was looking forward to after talking with Bart the last two days. Sadly, I had an incident occur. Many don’t know but I have a blood pressure disorder known as Syncope. It occurs when my blood pressure is elevated but my body thinks its really low and I fait. It was a result of the intense heat the last few days in Arizona and too much caffeine in my system. I stepped out for a bit and got some air and water and kept moving to get my circulation going. Sadly, it wasn’t helping and I quickly grabbed my stuff from Bart’s session and headed upstairs and joined my friend, Jenny by the main table to cool off and eat some peanuts. I finally felt like myself after a half an hour and then went to Tony’s last session next door and also told him what had happened to me. He completely understood and was also incredibly nice to let me pass out the stickers for his session to get me moving again and thanks to that, my Syncope went back under control and I went on to enjoy the final session before heading in for the last lunch of the day. My Aunt Gloria got in early and joined us and I did an interview podcast with Wesley Fryer on my first book, My Life as a Comic Book Reader, Small Hope and the highs and lows of using a crowdfunding source like Kickstarter. I also gave out free copies of My Life as a Comic Book Reader to everyone I had talked too during the session. If I missed you, let me know.
From there, Tony revealed I had won the Infopic contest that had been going on through out the last three years and won the JustandGo iPad Document Camera, which I just love. I also thanked my Aunt Gloria for everything she did for me to get down to Mobile 2015, which almost had her tearing up. After the final drawing for the last prize, Adam Bellow, the founder of Educlipper gave his amazing and inspiring closing Keynote and after some chats, handshakes and hugs, I headed back to Phoenix with my aunt and arrived back in Illinois at lunch time and reunited with my family with many hugs and kisses from my wife and son. I also started using the Thinking Dice with Tyler and he was having a ball coming up with stories (He’s only four). I had such an incredible time at The Mobile Learning Experience 2015 and I really hope to attend again bearing finances and time allows me. On a final note, on my trip back from Arizona I had the pleasure of sitting next to a 95 years young Great Grandmother on the plane who I taught Stick Around and Thinking Dice too. She called it: “Magical!” I wish I had a picture but she didn’t want one taken but told me that what I was doing was fantastic and to never let anyone tell me what I’m doing is a waste of time. Be creative because that’s why your students love you. I want to thank: Tony Vincent, Tim Ryland, Sarah Neida, Felix Jacomino, Wesley Fryer, Jon Samuelson, Rodney Turner, Sara Crawford, Dierdre Shetler, Penina Rybak, Michael Buist, Jenny Ashby, Bart Buckinx, Adam Bellow, Jonathan Nalder and a host of others that made my time at Mobile 2015 just amazing. I am taking all of your resources and ideas back with me here at Christian Life for my students and teachers and will be using some in my upcoming June vidcast later this week. Thank you all so much.