Tending Gardens & ISTE17 Part 1/6

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”    ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Tending Gardens

I’ve spent the last three hours or so outside tending the gardens where morning glories grow along the decks in our front and back yards. It is hot here in Massachusetts, especially in the sun, yet nowhere near as hot as it was in Texas last week. I kept thinking about that as I plucked the wayward grass and clover plants that had sprung up while we were away. I hated leaving the gardens during this prime growing season we had waited for all winter and spring. I had planted around Memorial Day and all the plants had a strong footing by the time we left on June 24. I was worried that they wouldn’t get enough water in our absence as they would be dependent on rain. Yet they did well – the annuals were bigger than we had left them, some perennials had gone by, while others were blooming or still yet to bloom. I am grateful for the rain that I never saw. 


About a month after sowing the morning glory seeds, the beds require thinning and weeding in order to have enough room to grow. It’s often hard to judge which sprout to remove and which one to nurture in this Darwinian effort; fortunately they are just plants.  The process reminded me of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, which was held from Sunday, June 25 – Wednesday, June 28, in San Antonio, Texas. With 20,000 educators in attendance and what seems like an equal amount of offerings, sessions including lectures, panels, or BYOD how-tos, to poster sessions, playgrounds for hands-on exploration, and the massive expo hall, it his hard to choose which to attend, especially knowing when choosing that one must skip something else.

Over the next few days, I hope to write a recap of my ISTE experience in a few posts on this blog. Last year I attended ISTE 2016 in Denver, CO. I sketch-noted during and after the sessions I attended. Those sketch-notes can be found here: SketchNotes ISTE 2016

I had expected to sketch-note this year, too, and I still may draw them up as after-notes, but didn’t have time this year because my husband traveled to Texas with me and after and between sessions, we explored San Antonio and surrounds. My husband is a cowboy at heart, so while in Texas we planned a short vacation to follow the ISTE conference. And we rented this car: 

I swear it was the same price as a Toyota Corolla for the week…

Art Educators at ISTE

Our first order of business was a meet-up of the art educators from the K12ArtChat professional learning network – a network that thrives on Twitter, especially during the Thursday night chats, but at all times for support, feedback, and encouragement. When I attended ISTE in 2016, I found only one other art educator among all of the attendees I encountered. I was thrilled to know other art educators would be there and I expect there will be more next year. It’s funny (not funny) that with all the technology infused in my middle school art curriculum, I never questioned my participation at ISTE, yet this year, not once (by a social studies teacher), but twice ( by a well-respected prominent change agent for education) after being asked what I did for work and upon my reply “I’m an art teacher”, I was asked, “Why are YOU at ISTE?”, (not in a philosophical way) with identical quizzical looks on the questioners’ faces. Really?

K12ArtChat meet-up at the Emma Hotel – L to R after me in this photo: Chris Parker, Tim Needles, Melissa Bellefiore, Samantha Melvin, Cathy Hunt, Laura Grundler, Matthew Grundler

My friends in this group are 1. well-respected art educators 2. edtech enthusiasts. Chris Parker (@kreyus) and I first connected over 3D printing. Chris is from the San Antonio area and was our un-official concierge for what to do and where to eat in the city. Next to Chris is Tim Needles (@TimNeedles), who was the 2016 recipient of the Art Education and Technology Outstanding Teacher award. His film and media posts are always worth watching. To Tim’s left (viewer’s right) is art educator and art advocate, Samantha Melvin (@smelvin), who is as talented and kind as she is tall. Samantha has given a lot of herself to grateful art educators (like me) over the years. Standing in front and to the right of Samantha is Cathy Hunt (@art_cathyhunt), our Australian art educator friend of inspirational talent and insight, especially in her role as an Apple Distinguished Educator. Cathy is a fantastic presenter and you can see her ISTE Ignite session here: Cathy Hunt Ignite at ISTE. On the far right are Laura (@GrundlerArt) and Matthew (@ArtGuy6)) Grundler, who are the brains, talent, and dedication behind #K12ArtChat. As you can see, this is a potent group of art educators to have spent time with to kick off our week in Texas!

Anyway, to be asked why I was at ISTE came as a shock to me. I’ll tell you how I answered that question in one of the next few posts about ISTE 2017. Until then, I’ll be busy tending gardens.



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