Student Tech Conference Session at IETC

I'm sitting in a session about  the Students involved with Technology Conference in Illinois.

These are my live notes. 

I'm so impressed, this is a conference by students and for students.  Every student has to choose what they want to be:  a participant or a presenter-participant.  If they do a presentation, they have to have a sponsor.

They give demos and presentation on hardware topics, robotics, gaming, web design, video editing and many other topics. 

So, the students sign up – they charge $18.  They charge to cover minimal costs, but if you don't charge, they don't show up.  They have GREAT prizes:  laptops, wii's laptops, HDTV's. 

They go up to 500 students — it is all about the keynote speaker, they say.  If you have a great keynote, it helps.  Students grades 3-12 from Dewitt, Livingston, McLean and other counties in Central Illinois (and beyond.)  Last year, they sent the video out by keynote. 

My notes — I'm amazed at this concept.  Anyone want to help me start one in south Georgia?  

Presenters come in the night before – look at the room, get a big picture.   They don't really want parents to come, only their adult sponsor.  The reality is that sometimes parents just walk in, but they really want the students by students.  They have over 70 sponsors for the conference!

Drop kids off – volunteers signing kids in – get booklets.  They get their booklets, their bag.  They mull around for just a moment — go to the keynote speech — they did it w/ video this year.  They select what sessions that want to go to. 

A couple of years a go, Dance Dance Revolution was big.  The popular ones they offer multiple times.  They insist that you are in a session – no clusters in the hall.  These children choose to be there – this is on a Saturday.  Sometimes you get kids w/ higher expectations than you want to deal with – but it is a really small group of kids.

The energy of the conference day is just amazing.  A many is sharing about how he was a teacher in technology in high school – they had high school students presenting from 3rd – 12th grade about the student run video program.  The sponsors have to hold back and let the students develop their own 20  minute presentation.

Note to self:  Perhaps for Flat Classroom – we have 10 minute student -led tech talks — maybe we should have them “pitch” their presentation on the ning and then let the voting happen beforehand.  Hmmmm.  How will we select the Ted Talks student presenters.

They ask the teachers who have students who “get” the technology to present.  Sometimes it is an individual OR a team.  His daughter presented when she was a 2nd grader – she did Webkinz w/ 2 other girls from another district from her swim team.  Not about one school or another – it is about what we're doing.

Produce and present —   teaching others is the highest form of learning – they are trying to focus on that diligently each year.  They get a new aspect of teaching once they have to stand in front and do it!

Deb Wylie, Illinois State University and Kim Traverse, Heartland Community College presenting.

They fill out forms, vegitarian, diet issues, etc.  During lunch – all tables colored w/ paper and crayons – they start drawing on it for the logo contest.  They tried doing it on computers one time, but they are doing it this way now. 

State Farm is their major sponsor for this. Have had sessions in the past where students can come in and build projects.  They had a hovercraft project where students got to build one and take it back to their school to use at their school — built hovercrafts you can float down the hall.  They want to figure out a way that they can do more with it.  So, now they make mini hovercrafts w/ paper plates using mini cpu fans!!  Batteries and Mini CPU's. 

Note to self:  I want to build a hovercraft!!!!!  ;-)  I WANT ONE!!! Need to find out how!  I LOVE THIS IDEA!!! This is great.

They have a “monetary system” – SIT Bucks – give them out for (this year they'll have a tech hero) – -bucks that they give out to the presenters — they had out questions when people ask questions — reward great behavior.  Need to get sitbucks.  They put their name in the pot for the prize they want.  They write their name on the back of the sitbuck and there are buckets for each prize and the kids put their name in the bucket w/ their SIT bucks and they go a drawing. 


They give sitbucks for helping.  They give sitbucks for everything.  They do a feast in the summer for the teachers – it focuses your program on good behaviors.  You MUST be present to win — put at the closing ceremony.

Wrap them in gift boxes — a sign says – in this gift box there is this — this is the Lego one, the Nintendo DS gift box — put descriptions of prizes in the booklets – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… etc.  It also helps w/ security too!!  Only had one ipod missing one time — so doing the baskets works well.  Last year, the large flat screen TV and entertainment center.  Talking about the kid who won it – had his dad come in the truck.  The Dad was so excited about it. 

For the prizes — State Farm gives them a check and they also get money from proceeds for the trip. 

Never turned down a student who wanted to come.  Many schools pay the registration.  If they present, they don't have to pay for it from some schools.    They keep registration low b/c it can be challenging to pay for it.

This is a great thing!!! How exciting!!!  I wonder if my students could put this together!?? This is cool.

The presenters pay to go, but the districts decide —  some districts pay the fee for their presenters, some do not.  Some pay for everyone to go as part of their curriculum for those who want to go.

Also promote and have videos to help the kids out — things to think about when presenting.  Made videos ahead of time – things to prepare for the conference.  What you want to know how to do.  Getting ready for the conference.  This is another great idea! Wow!

Sponsors play a great role also. If parents want to come, they ask them to be volunteers — help hand out lunch, etc. and then they can see their child.  It is a great experience in that way.

In the fall of the year, ask the kids, “who wants to be a presenter,” then help them formulate what they want to present.  What do they want to bring?  If they want to bring everything — coach and say “well, you may not want to take all of that equipment – doesn't make sense.”  Sponsor, helps set up room, but helps, the student is in charge.  If something goes wrong in the room, the sponsor handles the liaison with the technical person b/c sometimes things go wrong. The student is reassurred.  20 minutes is a long time for kids – seems like a long time for kids. 

Sponsor multiple presentations — many people do – but groups of younger kids need a little bit more help.  Tried to make the educator who sponsors a team stay in the same room.

Watching the parents come pick up their students — it is very exciting to see how excited the kids are.  It is so fun!!! Everyone is so excited!

You have to have an emcee for this whole thing.  They did a video about the sitbucks and how that worked. 

They have kids make videos and let them see others present. 

I really think this is the way we need to go.  This is a GREAT project.  I wish we could hold during the week, but some might say it is “too fun.”  But, by having it on a Saturday, you do have some self selection in that way.  This is great!!  WOW!  I love the handouts.

The presenter says out of all of the conferences he does, that this one is the easiest one he does!  They really don't have many problems.  Their problems is that rooms fill up or they cry if they don't win a prize but that is it!


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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