T3 Day 3 Roundup: See You in Vegas

By Tech Powered Dad | March 12, 2013

Mayim Bialik T3 Closing Address

My day 3 roundup has been delayed by travel back home and the news that my basement was rapidly taking on water from the flooding that has hit central Illinois the while I was gone. So as I write this, I’m comfortably in my living room, making the occasional uncomfortable trip down to my basement office to vacuum water out of my office carpet. Such is the glamorous life of an educational technology blogger. As far as the actual conference went yesterday, the final day was a short one, with only power sessions in the morning and the closing address from actress and TI spokesperson Mayim Bialik.

The power session I attended was on implementing the Common Core State Standards. I must admit to being a little late to the party on CCSS. My school really only started the implementation phase in earnest this year, although I feel like our classroom use of TI technology allowed us to start weaving CCSS themes into our instruction a couple of years ago.

The panelists were Ray Barton, Linda Griffith, and Jennifer Wilson. The panel did a great job providing concrete examples of CCSS implementation via samples of student work, screen captures of Navigator activities and video of classrooms in action. The most interesting part of the panel was the Q&A time at the end. There were a number of questions that revealed frustration or anxiety on the part of teachers trying to implement CCSS. The issues ranged from parents complaining about the “non-traditional” instruction to students that didn’t like being pushed outside of the comfort zone they’d developed over many years of “traditional” instruction. The panel didn’t claim to have all the answers but offered suggestions like using class time for activities that pushed students out of their comfort zone but sending students home with activities or assignments that would build confidence.

The closing session followed, and the TI team did a really nice job making it memorable. Prior to the start of the session, there was a scrolling “photo wall” that featured pictures of the people and events of T3, including many photos that attendees had posted to their Twitter feeds. Once the session got going, there was also a very amusing video set to “Move Like Jagger” that kept cutting between teachers at T3 creating functions with their bodies and the TI-Nspire graphing those very same functions.

With all due respect to Mayim Bialik, I felt that Nick Lombardo, a high school senior from Connecticut, stole the closing session. Lombardo was the winner of a TI contest that brought Mayim Bialik to his high school, along with a lot of TI-Nspire technology that his school got to keep. Nick did a fantastic job speaking about the importance of education, and why he wanted to win the contest for his teacher, his classmates, and the students that followed him. Nick will find out if he gets into MIT next week, and I wish him the best of luck with that news.

Of course, Bialik wrapped T3 up as its final speaker. As always, she was an eloquent and entertaining spokesperson for STEM education and the role that Texas Instruments products have to play. My favorite Bialik line of the conference was when she described the TI-Nspire handheld as “your black dress” and the Nspire iPad app as “the great pair of flats that go with it.” She also took questions from the audience, some of which had little to do with education. I was really taken by her answer to a question about her hopes and dreams for the next 10 years of her life. She spoke frankly about how fickle Hollywood can be. Even though she’d like to do movies, she said it can be a challenge to find those opportunities as “a character actor,” as she described herself. But above all, when she thinks about the upcoming years, she’s still most focused on her two boys and her role as their mom.

So the 25th birthday party for T3 has wrapped up, and there won’t be another like it until next year in Las Vegas. But I’ve still got a little leftover cake to serve up here at Tech Powered Math, so keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Over the next week or two, I’ll have a couple of more posts on my thoughts out of the conference as well as my hands on review of the TI-84+ C.

STEM careers are the future. Will you be ready?

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