Wichita, Kansas in the good ol' summertime, 100 degree heat.
Old Town Wichita is a very nice area...beautiful Hotel at Old Town, restaurants and shops just a block or two from the hotel, nice photo opportunities in a couple of block radius.
Podstock is 300 educators who get it or want to get it, aka have drunk the Kool Aid. They want to make school different and we can quickly slip into those conversations and share ideas and help each other improve our classrooms/schools.
PreCon (day before actual conference) was a day of making. A variety of stations were set up for teachers to experience ways to add STEAM to their environments...and STEAM is science TINKERING engineering AESTHETICS math. There were areas to sew, explore circuits, 3d design & print, robotics, coding/RaspberyPi, music, paper rockets, and vertical wind tunnel. The day ended too soon for most, as we just wanted to keep making stuff.
I believe every class should have some Maker aspect to it. I feel that making something representative of a concept or to demonstrate learning, anchors the concepts to our brain. It could be a crown or a sword while studying King Arthur, a family crest while studying history, a personally designed cookie cutter for cooking class, or a song for science. The big question is can the student verbalize the relationship of the artifact to the learning. The materials that could be used is limitless and choice in materials, as well as artifact, is one way to give students choice in their learning. By the way, Maker is not just a physical space, it is a midset, a way of thinking. People are proud of things they make. Didn't Mom & Dad put our creations on public display (fridge or shelf or mantle). With the Internet we have a great place for public display.
Now if they are making things, lights are a nice way to bling them a little. LED's and watch batteries are cheap. I use eBay, "500 bulk LED's" cost $14 (sometimes I buy 300) ; "100 CR2032" cost $16 (have seen these for $10) for batteries. I usually stay with a North American seller...if you go with a Chinese company expect 1 month shipping.
Sessions abound on Thursday and Friday, great ideas flow. I really appreciate that "purposeful mingling" is scheduled between sessions. Actual time to ask questions, visit with people, expand ideas. People have fun. Learning is enjoyable. At night there is karaoke and dancing. Two and a half days that go too fast.
I especially enjoy that a few people stay Friday after Podstock for "AfterGlow". We did lunch and talked. After that we sat in the hotel lobby (a beautiful place) for 8 hours and talked, things we learned and ideas for next year. Casual conversation, subjects changed seemlessly, get to know each other, catch up with each others lives, help each other flesh out ideas....lots of sharing. Conversations that don't happen back in my school.
I really wish there were some way to do a "Podstock mid year reunion", but life is busy and travel costs money. I also wish there were a way to have a "Podstock school"...populate a school with teachers from Podstock, ones that get "it". Hope I can make it back for #podstock16.