Friday, June 19, 2015


Pictured: Dr. Michael Wesch
The second annual WISE conference (Wabash Innovative Summit for Education) was hosted by the three school districts of Wabash County: Manchester Community Schools, MSD Wabash County, and Wabash City. Dr. Michael Wesch, an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, uses innovative instructional models (inquiry-based, real-world application) and digital storytelling. His main message was to create deeper learning through empathy, connections, and relationships. After delivering his keynote, Dr. Wesch lead sessions throughout the day on digital storytelling, games, and simulations.

WISE drew from talent internally and across the state for concurrent sessions. Over 75 sessions were offered and included topics across all subjects and grade levels. Example sessions included Social Media for School Leaders, Best Google Apps for Educators, Exploring the T in STEAM, SAMR: Teaching Above the Line, and The Power of Podcasting. In addition, there were quick share sessions on topics such as Kahoot!, Planbook, and NearPod.

During one session, Reena Markstahler, Karlan Varner, and Kari Johnson of MSD Wabash presented “10+ Teacher Tested eLearning Day Assignments.” The team provided tips, tricks, and tools for preparing eLearning day lessons as well as providing wisdom from lessons learned through their own experiences with eLearning. The session ended with a great Q & A time as participants and presenters engaged in conversations about Internet access, devices, accountability, and significant content.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 11.09.13 AM.pngThe second day of WISE featured a trio of keynotes: Kristin Ziemke, a leader in literacy, specializing in authentic ways to integrate technology into literacy; Kim Campbell, a middle school geography teacher; and Michael Gorman, an advisor in many capacities.

Thursday’s keynote speakers shared their expertise by leading several concurrent sessions throughout the day. Kristin Ziemke challenged teachers to encourage curiosity in the classroom and to use digital tools to help students answer their “I wonders.” Kim Campbell’s high energy was contagious as she lead teachers in a variety of activities that could be easily incorporated into the classroom. Michael Gorman discussed PBL and the flipped learning connection and how to develop lessons with significant content. The trifecta approach - three keynote speakers representing three age levels (elementary, middle, and high school) - was well received, with many participants providing positive feedback on the format.

WISE offered a new and exciting opportunity to attendees this year - a MakerSpace Playground! Participants could come and go as they pleased to build with Legos and LittleBits, see demonstrations of Rube Goldberg-style machines, program with a Raspberry Pi, and even take part in recycling trash into art, space heaters, and more.

Tekventure, a public art and technology laboratory located in Fort Wayne, IN, lead concurrent sessions within the MakerSpace Playground. Sessions on programming with eTextiles, 3D printing, and building a homemade laser cutter drew lots of interest from attendees. Participants used old DVD-Rom drives and other parts to build laser cutters capable of cutting shapes out of paper. What an awesome experience!

Keynotes, selected sessions, and the MakerSpace Playground were broadcast live on Periscope.

Guest Blogger: Brian Miller

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