Jun 27 2017

ISTE 2017: Teachers Can Empower Students to Tell Their Stories

Educator Jennie Magiera says technology can help students share their experiences.

In a rousing speech that was deeply personal at times, Jennie Magiera had many stories to tell.

Magiera, the chief innovation officer at Des Plaines Public Schools in Chicago and the author of Courageous Edventures, gave the Tuesday keynote at ISTE’s 2017 Conference & Expo. The poignant stories she told touched on her family and teaching roots, and they drew visible and audible reactions from the packed crowd.

First, Magiera told a story about when her mother first came to the United States and changed her given Korean name to Carol, but couldn’t spell it, so it became “Kello,” causing her to be bullied by her classmates. That was until a fourth-grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be called. “Kello” was “Katie” from then on. She later taught her young daughter that “Teachers can help you be your whole self.”

Then there was Magiera’s own fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Buckman, who came into the first day of class wild-haired and adventurous and pretending to search for her pet dragon, making young Magiera muse that “Teachers are wizards!” and setting her on her own path to becoming one herself.

Next, Magiera told the story of young fourth- and fifth-graders she taught to code who said they couldn’t learn because they were girls. By the end of the week, after she “triple dog dared them,” not only were they coding, they were making videos decrying their previous position against it.

Finally, Magiera relayed how technology shattered the story of a Chicago neighborhood dubbed “Terror Town.  Students there created a video, called “This Isn’t Chiraq,” defending their city and sent it to media outlets, which all picked it up and published it.

“It’s incredible how we can share our humanity with one another, how small the world has become because of technology,” Magiera said.

Magiera asked attendees to tell their whole stories, not just the curated ones often seen on Facebook or other social media sites.

“Who’s going to tell the stories happening in the halls of ISTE?” she asked. “It is such a privilege to get to come here. So many amazing stories occur.”

She challenged the audience to share selfies and videos with the hashtag #ISTEStory. A selection of them will be posted on the ISTE page following the conference.

“Find the stories that aren’t being told. Live those untold stories and set them free,” Magiera shouted, as the audience of around 5,000 people came to its feet for a standing ovation.

For more ISTE stories, check out the EdTech coverage page.


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