Monday, July 17, 2017

Podstock 2017

What is Podstock? 

Podstock is an Educational Technology Conference that focuses on giving Educators the support and resources to engage Students on a whole new level in the classroom. Hosted at the Old Town Hotel and Conference Center in Wichita, Kansas, Podstock has been delivering quality professional learning opportunities for almost 10 years now. Kevin Honeycutt and the amazing Essdack staff have made it their goal to welcome Educators from around the world and provide them with a unique, engaging and fun environment. I had the privilege of making our 3rd visit to Podstock last week with my wonderful team members Sarah Wood and Kelly McGee. Every year I am amazed by how much I learn and the new connections I make there.


Kelly McGee wearing STEAMpunk Goggles
One of the highlights of Podstock is the Pre-Conference. Traditionally, this day is less structured and gives attendees the time and space to explore and create. There is always a fun theme to the conference that ties back to the educational mission of the conference. I remember the first year I attended when the theme was STEAMpunk highlighting STEAM in the classroom. During the pre-con we had time to use a variety of Maker tools to create the most elaborate costume and accessories to show off for the rest of the conference. There were some pretty creative costumes out there.

This year the focus was on TECHspoloration and my team and I 'gravitated' to a table that had Hummingbird kits made by Birdbrain Technologies. Our pretty cool mission instructor Katie Henry walked us through the process of how to use Scratch and other programming software to program the
Hummingbird to do some pretty amazing tricks. Naturally, my team decided to build a Llama named Lamar out of Cardboard and some other maker supplies. Here is a video of our creation.

The good thing about this day was that we learned something entirely new and challenged ourselves to build something we never thought we could make. We didn't want to leave. In fact, we didn't. We stayed long after everyone else had left, to finish our masterpiece. We probably annoyed the staff that was coming in to set up for the next event, but we were determined to follow through to the end. We felt really good when we did, we were certainly proud of what we accomplished.

Katie Henry walking Dan Townsend through Scratch
This is the same feeling that we want to bring back to our classrooms. Challenging each other to go where we have never gone before and do things we have never done. This is what we want our students to do in the classroom. If every classroom provided the same environment and culture that Podstock does, this world would be a better place and our kids will be prepared to succeed in today's society.

Why you should make the trip

Podstock is more than just a conference, it is a family. I have met so many wonderful people who I have added to my Professional Learning Network. They have so many great ideas and goals when it comes to the classroom, but most importantly they are just good people. There is no judgement here at podstock; only encouragement and support like you have never experienced before. I feel empowered every time I get around these folks because I know they have my back, and I have theirs. There are so many people at Essdack and outside of essdack that make Podstock happen and they should be recognized because the work that they do is truly changing the world. If you haven't had the opportunity to attend podstock, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is one of the best conferences I have ever been to and I am proud to be apart of the Podstock Family. Come join us!

-Dan Townsend

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