02 July 2013

ISTE '13 Recap

So much information and I'm still trying to sift my way through it all.
I've finally got all the pictures (mostly of fun and food) uploaded and tagged so you can check those out here.  Still working through my work notes but I'll give a little overview of the trip...
minovia and I took the early flight out on Saturday morning and despite a layover in Dallas that was supposed to be 30 minutes but turned into 2 hrs & 30 minutes due to a problem with the jump seat (just don't sit in it!), it was a great couple of flights.  There was a good group of people from area schools and the AEA on our flights so there was fun conversation to be had.  When we got in and checked into our hotel (Hyatt Regency Riverwalk, not as posh as the W last year, but still nice) we headed out to find a late lunch.  We ate at Casa Rio on the riverwalk and I wasn't impressed with the food or the location.  It seemed hot, dirty and touristy.  The riverwalk would grow on me over the days we were there but I don't think it is really as amazing as people make it out to be. 
After eating, we wandered over to the Alamo and toured that historic landmark.  It is oddly set right in the middle of the commercial district and isn't as big or impressive as pictures make it seem.  The history and story behind it, is quite interesting though. From there we strolled around and just checked out the area, I picked up some cheap sunglasses since I forgot mine in Iowa (four dollars!!) and then made our way to San Fernanado Cathedral for afternoon mass.  It was a great mass and beautiful structure.  The three leader heroes from the Alamo are buried inside the church intererstingly.  The music was what they call mariachi choir on their website, two gentelmen with a guitar and a mandolin.  Wonderful to listen to.  And at the end of mass they recognized one of the alterboys.  He was 18 and had been serving since he was five.  Now he is off to the Marines.  I said a prayer for him.
For dinner we checked out County Line, again on the riverwalk, for some BBQ.  The food, service and atmosphere were top notch, but I wouldn't put their meat up against North Main BBQ.  We called it a night at a respectable hour as the travel and sun catch up with us, plus I dropped a rib on myself and didn't want to be out carousing with a BBQ stain on my shirt. :)
Sunday morning I was so excited I could barely stand it.  I had done some internet searching and found Mitchell Lake Audobon Center on the southern edge of town and it looked like a great birding spot.  So after a $40 cab ride with a very unique and entertaining cabbie, we found ourselves pretty much out of the city.  The area used to be used by San Antonio Water Service and has been taken over by the Audobon Society and maintained as a wildlife center.  Seven miles of trails, which I was planning on conquering on foot, but didn't have to, due to the incredible good fortune and kindess of two park docents who were not working, just there to bird and stopped and told us to get in with them.  So not only did we not have to walk all those miles in the heat, we also got a guided tour for 90 minutes with two experts on the center and its birds!  They were great company too.  I saw so many new birds!  Scissor-tailed flycatchers (so cool), a caracara (fantastic), snowy, green and cattle egrets, a mockingbird, neotropic cormorants, pelicans, a black vulture, golden-fronted woodpecker, black-chinned hummingbirds and more.  Eight life listers for me.  A incredible, and incredibly fortunate morning for us.
We had our same cabbie friend drop us off at Mi Tierra on the way home for lunch and it was a great place.  Superb food.  My enchiladas en mole were fabulous. It is like stimulation overload there.  Tons of bright decorations, lights, pinatas, a bakery & sweets counter, piles of people, mariachis and more.  We also picked up several things from the bakery area to enjoy for snacks and breakfast during the conference.  The empanadas and campechenas were great.  We made our way through a little street market and walked to the conference center, checked in and got the lay of the land.  I also picked up a Microsoft Surface RT.  Microsoft passed out 10,000+ of them at the conference in an attempt to get a foot in against the iPad.  From what I've heard so far...they have a ways to go.
For dinner we headed to Ocho, which is a Cuban restaurant attached to the Havana Hotel with super cool decor, very vintage, very tropical.  There was a little bit of a wait for the food, it was worth it because my huilacoche and chicken quesadillas were super tasty.  And the IPA that I chose was fabulous (Bear Republic's Racer 5).  We sat inside for a while til it got too chilly and then moved to the patio.
Monday the conference began and the race to absorb and analyze as much as you can began...
Here are the Monday sessions I attended:
An integrated model for teacher evaluation and PD
Design your digital tattoo
Individualized tech goals & differentiated staff development plans
PLUS TECH: a gamified PD approach in Chicago Public Schools
What makes a successful conference presenter
For dinner, we headed out to Koi Kawa and had some tasty sushi.

Tuesday's sessions:
Got iPads! Explore Strong Instructional Strategies & Differentiated PD
Want to be a Tech Coach? Learning the NETS-C
iPad Deployment Blueprint for Success
Where Good Ideas Come From (keynote by Steven Johnson)
A pedagogical approach to the iPad
For our last dinner there, we chose ácenar and it was a great choice.  We had a server who is finishing up his culinary training to be a chef and hopes to have his own restaurant within five years.  He loved to talk food and would go on about this or that topic, seemingly unhurried by his other tables.  We learned a lot, ate & drank some fabulous items and had a great time overall.  Walking the riverwalk on the way home we decided to stop in at The Worm, a tequila and mezcal bar just outside our hotel.  We had one of the bartenders set us up with a flight of tequilas ranging from silver, to anejo, to resposado.  Each was only a half an ounce but it was enough to enjoy the differences between them.

Wednesday's session:
Bringing teaching to life with the new Microsoft Office
Only time for one session before heading to the airport for our flight back home.

A great conference and I still have a lot of takeaway ideas, reading and things to consider.


  1. I don't know how a conference could be any better.. so many fun sites, Great food and a wonderful partner. :) all at the employer's expense. Gotta love those opportunities -good job

  2. It was a great trip. Lots of laughs, great meals and a lot of walking..... you forgot to mention when we got lost. :)