Thursday, June 28, 2018

Debuting #tidbitsofwonder

Considering you may be coming from my hashtag #tidbitsofwonder on Twitter or my Instagram page dedicated to this movement, you may not know much about me at all, so I have to cover those bases first. Plus, if you are coming from wherever because I am re-emerging in the edtech world (somehow... maybe... I guess?), I have to provide some updates.

You may know me from as many as 5-13 years ago when I owned (which does not exist anymore) or as Scholastic's National Grades 3-5 advisor from the 2009-2010 school year. (Nevertheless, both those times in my life are from quite some time ago.) Or you may know me because of the class name, "Jasztalville", in general. (LOL.) On Twitter, I am the one with the yellow-ish hand-sketched face I made using Adobe Photoshop who has woven in and out of various chats on Twitter. I have made some great resources for other teachers via Twitter.

I have needed LOTS of time to figure out who I am as an educator. I am in my fifteenth year of teaching (which blows my mind because I remember being barely 22 years old!) and in my sixth year of teaching gifted fifth grade students. Prior to that, I taught fourth grade.

When I was younger, I considered my niche to be "ELA all the way", giving very little consideration to science or math. I am not kidding... in the least. As I have gotten older, I have become MUCH more science and technology-oriented, although I love all subjects and conduct educational research in a variety of areas. I think I am ready to re-emerge in the online educator realm after becoming a Space Camp alum, realizing I didn't want to stand for certain things, and learning about certain extraordinary educators. Furthermore, I feel I have changed significantly in light of being a middle school Technology Club advisor (I teach at a K-8 school) and especially a gifted teacher (which was always my dream, because... I am... gifted, too.)

So, yeah, #tidbitsofwonder. I was just at the ISTE conference in Chicago, Illinois and attended Tara Martin's #booksnaps session. I felt very connected to her presentation because I always desire to connect with my students on different levels. She started this hashtag because of her high school son who, like many teenagers, was using Snapchat. #booksnaps came out of reflecting on short excerpts from books-- and numerous educators felt very inspired, creating all kinds of snaps (even #mathsnaps and #sciencesnaps).

Last night, I was on my plane ride home and was fairly bored after writing down many ideas in my inspiration journal (don't ask; my mind is ALWAYS, always racing... it's a crowded mess in there). I then started taking snaps of the sunset, screen in front of me updating me about where I was and how fast I was going, etc. It then struck me... I had to create #booksnaps' insanely curious cousin, #tidbitsofwonder!

My mind has always been primed to wonder about EVERYTHING. I stare at trusses and wonder about how architects decided on that specific truss design... mountains/canyons and wonder about their extensive history... items and basically wonder how they revolutionized from their initial engineering design, etc. I can be in an invigorating social setting, surrounded by people having tons of fun, and I am wondering about the architecture or history of the building I'm in. I make up math problems in my head, think about random algorithms out of nowhere, wonder about the chemistry behind things, and think... Which vocabulary words best describe this moment in time, the taste of this food, this sunset, or the appearance of this fabric?

People may be thinking I am out in space, staring randomly at things, but my neurons often are bursting in joy! I've been validated by my gifted students who have said, It's really okay, Ms. Jasztal, I get it, too. 

This is code for I am a VERY (!!!!) proud nerd whose mind never stops racing. As I add more snaps, you may be thinking, Gracious, she's lethally insane, or feel the desire to join in the party.

Although this is a very limited list, here are some ways #tidbitsofwonder can take off-- 
- You snap an image of a plate of food and wonder which vocabulary words describe the food.
- You photograph a skyscraper and wonder about the engineering behind it.
- You wonder about the chemical elements that make up some object and wonder why those specific elements were chosen.
- You take a picture of some kind of statistics and think about how they can be analyzed mathematically.
- You wonder about a historical marker or plaque you see and wonder about the place, person, or event indicated on there.
- You take a picture of a costume and wonder about why it was designed that certain way... how does it reveal character traits about the one who is wearing it?

Here is an example from last night: 

The possibilities are vast. 

Now for the Instagram page, I am including all my tidbits and encourage people to reflect on them. Like, if I say "Can you come up with mathematical or scientific connections?", people then include those, or if I am wondering about words that describe the image, people generate something vocabulary-wise.

I am curious to see where this goes, and I hope, overall, you really like (and participate in) it.

Takeaways from ISTE 2018

ISTE 2018 in Chicago, Illinois was absolutely phenomenal. Although I had the opportunity to enjoy being a tourist by visiting the Willis Tower, John Hancock Building, and Museum of Science and Industry, I was also able to attend eight sessions, explore a few playgrounds, volunteer in the digital Storytelling playground, peruse the Exhibit Hall, and co-lead my very first poster session with Danielle Abernethy.

A few years ago when I attended ISTE 2016 in Denver, I wrote about my takeaways, so I have decided to do it again. I feel like this reflection will benefit me as I plan for my next group of 5th grade scientists and 6th-8th grade Technology Club members (and even my Brain Bowl team to an extent). I am extremely excited for a few new beginnings; I am ready to take some risks this coming year and am ecstatic to re-emerge in the online educators' realm.

  • #booksnaps from Tara Martin was one of my favorite sessions this year. When Tara explained the scientific relevance, the awesomeness of her hashtag struck me out of nowhere. As a person whose right side of the brain dominates, I was suddenly intrigued by how something so simple and fun to create unites the two hemispheres of the brain. Since her workshops, I have created six of these-- five of which I am about to debut with a bit of a different (original!) hashtag. Of course, I am going to attribute a great deal of credit to her awesomeness
  • I was intrigued by how much I learned about AR and VR in 360. On Tuesday, I attended a workshop hosted by Andy Mann called "Learning in 360". The day before, I attended Jaime Donally and Rachelle Dene Poth's session called "Immerse Students in Learning: Bring AR and VR into the Classroom!" Although I already knew about CoSpaces, I did not realize its full potential. 
  • I had the opportunity to attend the first-ever Questathon, hosted by Classcraft! I almost delved into Classcraft last year, which is a gamification platform where educators can add a storytelling element to their lessons and incorporate elements from games to increase student engagement. The Questathon event focused on adding to their narrative, which invigorated me beyond measure. Although I didn't accomplish much while there besides random sketches, I was still drawn in to their rationale and innovative approaches. I really hope to collaborate with them more. 
  • I was so infatuated with attending the #booksnaps session that I was out there over an hour early. I wound up attending the session beforehand as well, which was led by Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning. This is embarrassing, but I never realized the full power of Google prior to this year's ISTE. However, after listening to her speak about the flexibility of Google Sheets/Slides and how other Google tools can transform one's classroom, I feel empowered to delve more into the Google realm this coming year. It also helps for my students that last year's fourth grade ELA teacher delved quite a bit into Google Classroom! 
  • I realized how my loyalty to my absolute favorite tech companies paid off! I was very specific when I visited the Expo Hall this year and learned something new when I visited many of their tables. Chibitronics debuted the ChibiClip (which was also at SparkFun's table), Sketchup is looking better than ever, the littleBits Code Kit is phenomenal, I officially decided I am going to purchase an Oculus, and there are many educational uses for an Ozobot
  • Last, this is not ISTE-related, but I got to see the Science Behind Pixar Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was one of the very best exhibits I have ever seen at any museum. Plus, I got into the museum for FREE and had to pay for just this part! 
If you were at ISTE this year, what were some of your biggest takeaways? Of course I had more experiences and takeaways, but these were the main ones!