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  • May 10, 2022 2:58 PM | Ashley

     Season Of Learning

    By Lindsay Zilly

    Can you feel it? The shift in the air. The changeover of wardrobes. The buzz and excitement is nothing short of….

    Summer Pathways Program

    The IDEA team has been hard at work throughout this winter and spring season curating some phenomenal content for your summer learning pleasure. We are excited to announce three learning pathways have been added to our summer series. Why now? Well, we have been listening to YOU, the teachers in the classrooms who are shouldering the weight of the world. We have heard you loud and clear. You are looking forward to some R & R and are also searching once again for your why. It is with that in mind that we’ve created three different professional learning options: 

    • Micro PD

    • Workshops

    • Cohorts



    Our Why

    These last few years have been tough and the IDEA team would like to honor your feelings by helping reignite your passion for learning. So, we have designed the summer pathways program to help fit whatever learning adventure lies ahead for you. These personalized experiences have been designed with teachers at the heart of it. 


    Let’s Break It Down

    You may be asking yourself, what will I gain from these experiences? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s unpack what each offering has in store for you!

    • Micro PD: These sessions are designed to be quick, engaging learning experiences. They are asynchronous and help get learners familiarized with a particular content area. Once participants have established the prerequisite knowledge from the virtual sessions, we invite them to join a full day capstone event. The goal of the capstone is to work with leading experts in a particular area to create a dynamic toolkit, unique to your learners that you can use to help implement a topic of study in your classroom next year. Have a busy summer already? Our Micro PD’s are the perfect way to continue learning without overly committing.


    • Workshops:  One of the pillars of IDEA is equity. For us this is not only incredibly important but also needs to be consistent. Equity work to us means a great many things but in the case of our workshops it means equitable access to innovative and authentic training no matter where you are located in Illinois. We’ve worked with some powerhouse educators to create full day workshops that will come to YOU! Our traveling workshops will be hosted three times throughout the summer at a location in the Northern part of Illinois as well as Central and Southern Illinois as well. IDEA is committed to removing as many barriers as possible to make learning accessible and equitable for everyone!


    • Cohorts: Our cohorts are for those educators looking to stay connected and skip the summer slide this year. We have month long, asynchronous cohorts available focusing on various subject matters. The best thing about the cohort options is that it comes with an accountability group. Ideas are great, but they come to life when they are shared. We’ve partnered with some incredible educators to lead a variety of cohorts to help you continue your life long learning journey. 


    Who is this for?

    In case we haven’t gotten you hooked yet, we’ve done even more work to ensure you get the learning experience you deserve. In addition to taking into account time constraints, topics of interest and incredible facilitators, we’ve also aligned our professional learning offerings with the role you play in your school or district. We have specific pathways for teachers, coaches and administrators. You can take one based on your job or take them all! We understand that professional learning is a community effort and for it to work, we have to connect all the pieces together. 

    Call To Action

    With that being said, take the time for you this summer. That may mean closing your laptop and not opening it again until August (in that case, we will see you at idea U!). But if you are finding yourself in need of a reminder as to why you are a part of the greatest profession in the world, take a peek at some of the options awaiting you within IDEA’s summer pathways program.

    Whether it is attending a Wednesday Webinar, registering for a Wellness Event or starting a journey towards once again finding your why, we hope you find something here that feels right for you. As always, thank you for all that you do changemakers! 

  • March 31, 2022 1:42 PM | Ashley

    We are switching things up here at IDEA to give members like you a better experience!

    You’ve probably joined one of our webinars via Zoom at least once.

    Well, that is about to be a thing of the past. 

    Drum roll, please …

    This month we are switching to a new platform:Kino by Kinetx.

    All joking aside, we are pumped to be hosting our webinars on Kino - a proud IDEA partner.

    Kino offers exciting new features that make gathering online a more personal and enjoyable experience. 

    For example - when you separate into different rooms or groups, you can still hear background chatter from other groups, bringing that in-person element. 

    It also provides us with an extra layer of security. 

    Due to these extra security measures, if you plan to join us on one of our many webinars, you’ll need to create a free Kino account here.

    It’s super easy to create an account! Just click the “Sign Up” button in the top right corner of the website. Fill in your information, and you are all set! 

    We will also be live streaming our free webinars on our YouTube channel! Make sure you are subscribed to the IDEA YouTube channel so you’ll be notified anytime we go live.

    We will begin using Kino and live streaming on all free webinars after April 6. Click here for all of our upcoming events. 

    Questions? You can reach us at info@ideaillinois.org

  • March 04, 2022 10:48 AM | Ashley

    Mini Grant Winner story: Doodling. It’s Not Just “Kid-Stuff”

    By Janine Feil and Molly Siegel

    Three-dimensional design is a hot topic. Can we design something useful and functional? Can we create something artistic in 3D? Can we use technology in creative ways to express student views? Kids have great imaginations and given proper tools, they can truly innovate. Can we inspire our students to unleash their creativity in new ways? These big questions inspired the collaboration of school Art and Tech teachers to propose a grant for 3Doodler pens. We felt that infusing some tech into our Art room would allow us to meet both Art and Technology teaching standards while boosting the creativity and enjoyment of our students.

    Our art program at Ivy Hill incorporates TAB art methodology (Teaching Artistic Behavior) which allows for students to experiment, choose media and themes for their own art projects. This freedom of choice in materials is one piece of the design process where collaboration was able to give students a taste of STEAM in their art class. Having 3Doodlers is a perfect media for our 5th graders to experiment with and later move onto really impressive personal art pieces ranging from Sponge Bob to geometric earrings to cubes!

    We introduced the 3 Doodler pens with some general instructions on care and use and then let students explore. We could immediately see the excitement in many students at the opportunity to work with a new medium. Students doodled, constructed, and designed. Some tried writing words, some made earrings and some started sculpting. It was powerful to watch the problem-solving process evolve in an authentic setting. One student was working on making a nameplate and had to figure out the best way to support it into a standing position. Another worked on a 3D cube and had to adjust angles and determine how best to connect the sides. This is tinkering at it’s finest.

    It took most students a while to get used to figuring out the most effective grip to use while creating with the doodler. They also learned to make adjustments in manipulating and ending a strand of doodler plastic, since a little extra “string” of run-off happens when you turn off the pen. Students truly figured out things by trial and error fairly quickly. Many students shined through big time with this media, students who haven’t with other media introduced in the art room.

    It’s been rejuvenating to see students excited about trying out something new. Most kids naturally want to try new things which we love to see. The 3Doodler has definitely expanded our art studio to new possibilities and lots of creative, fun energy! 

    We would be remiss if we did not include a couple of tips for care and feeding of your 3Doodlers. We have the Start model, which is recommended for ages 6-13. They are cool to the touch, eliminating the chance of burning skin. Even the extruded plastic is only warm, not hot.

    We highly recommend writing on the device with Sharpie which color will be used with each pen. It helps keep the color of pens even and it is much easier to know which color is loaded in which pen. Also, charging after each use has been helpful. The batteries last well for our 1 hour art classes and getting into that routine of charging when done using them makes sure that they are ready to go for the next class.

    The 3D doodler pens are a big hit with our 5th graders and we can’t wait to introduce them to younger artists! We also hope to incorporate other STEAM elements into our Art studio and can’t wait to see what our students will create next.

  • January 26, 2022 8:11 AM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome our newest Silver Partner, Wakelet!

    Wakelet is a free to use content curation platform that allows you to save, organize, present and share all kinds of online content into visual, engaging collections. It supports independent learning, group based learning, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and digital citizenship.

    Wakelet allows educators to create visual, engaging learning environments for their students, classes, and communities. Educators across the world are using Wakelet to organize, create and share resources, lesson plans, presentations, newsletters, digital storytelling assignments, online portfolios, journals and much more! The flexibility and usefulness of the platform provides for some of the most creative, engaging, and memorable learning experiences that can be had both inside and outside the classroom. Wakelet integrates with all of your favorite tech tools, so educators quickly find Wakelet becoming an essential part of their workflow!

    Check out more about Wakelet here

  • January 25, 2022 2:35 PM | Ashley

    Calling all leaders in Illinois education!

    We are looking for passionate educators who are looking for a fun and exciting leadership opportunity with a growing organization. 

    Is that you?

    If you answered, “HECK, YEAH!”, we encourage you to consider joining the IDEA board. 

    Nominations for IDEA Executive Board and Governing Board are currently open. These positions include:

    Executive Board:

    • Incoming President (serves a 3-year term to include Incoming President/President/Immediate Past President)

    • Secretary (serves a 2-year term)

    • Treasurer (serves a 2-year term)

    Governing Board:

    • Regional chapter positions

    • Member-at-large 

    Learn more about each position with our detailed job descriptions

    Click here to submit a nomination form today or forward it to someone you know that would be a good fit. 

    Board nominations are due March 13, 2022. These nominations will be put on a ballot and sent to the entire IDEA membership for a vote.

    Elected members will be announced at the annual meeting on April 16, 2022, and terms will begin July 1, 2022. For a full overview of the nomination, click here

    Please consider reviewing the following before submitting your nomination:


    We hope you will consider joining our team of passionate educators who thrive to uphold the IDEA mission: To inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology.

    Click here to learn more about IDEA and here to submit your nomination form. 

  • January 18, 2022 4:29 PM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome back as a Bronze Partner, CSTA!

    CSTA creates high-quality, community-centric, equitable programs that help K-12 teachers instruct CS more effectively. CSTA does this by building community, delivering high-quality professional learning, and leading as an independent voice for teachers. 

    CSTA believes every student should have access to a high-quality CS education, which starts with effective CS teachers.

    More about CSTA:

    • BUILDING COMMUNITY: We build strong communities for members to learn with peers and develop their professional identities.

    • ONGOING PD: CSTA provides CS teachers with career-long, professional learning programs.

    • PROVIDING INDEPENDENT GUIDANCE: CSTA agnostically reviews curriculum and offers standards alignment. We also recognize the important accomplishments of teachers and students.

    Check out more about CSTA here.
  • January 18, 2022 4:26 PM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome back as a Bronze Partner, Edmentum!

    Whether your objective is to boost test scores, raise graduation rates, implement personalized learning, or improve college and career readiness, a partnership with Edmentum means access to a team of education technology professionals committed to making sure your investment enhances student achievement.

    More about Edmentum: 

    At Edmentum, a single mission guides and inspires us as it defines our core purpose and the contribution we make to society: Founded in innovation, we are committed to being educators' most trusted partner in creating successful student outcomes everywhere learning occurs. 

    At Edmentum, we are a team committed to being educators' most trusted partner in creating successful student outcomes everywhere learning occurs. 

    Check out more about Edmentum here.

  • January 12, 2022 8:23 AM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome back as a Silver Partner, BitSpace!

    BitSpace runs after-school programs and summer camps with a focus on design and engineering. BitSpace also provides curriculum for teachers including kits to run maker programs of their own. This awesome company also designs and builds maker spaces for schools. 

    For Parents:

    BitSpace’s hands-on learning programs are designed to unlock your child’s creativity, ramp up their problem-solving skills and develop a “can-do” attitude. Some programs are delivered remotely while others are in person (with safety measures in place).

    For Teachers:

    Earn professional development hours while bringing the joy of hands-on learning to your classroom. BitSpace’s courses are taught by master teachers who are in the trenches themselves, so you’re sure to learn ONLY practical, classroom-tested strategies

    For Schools: 

    If you’re looking to transform an underutilized space in your school to maximize learning, we’ve got you covered! You can either purchase modular furniture ala-carte or hire us to build your makerspace from scratch through our Design & Build service.

    Check out more about BitSpace here

    Be sure to come see BitSpace at IDEAcon 2022! They have an insanely cool setup: Here is a sneak peek:

  • January 11, 2022 11:41 AM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome back as a Bronze Partner, Tynker!

    Tynker is the world’s leading K-12 creative coding platform, enabling students of all ages to develop the coding skills to design and power animations, games, music, robots and drones, smart devices, virtual worlds like Minecraft, and more. The company’s award-winning platform helps kids engage at home, school, and on the go, while developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and programming skills to help them be successful today and tomorrow. 

    Tynker’s highly successful coding curriculum has been used by one in three U.S. K-8 schools, 90,000 schools globally, and over 60 million kids across 150 countries. Tynker’s partners include some of the world’s most respected brands, including Apple, BBC Learning, Google, Microsoft, Mattel, PBS, Lego, NASA, and more. 

    Tynker is accessible from any computer with an internet browser, as well as via the Tynker and Tynker Junior mobile apps, and offers both free and paid subscription options. Check out more about Tynker here

  • January 10, 2022 8:28 AM | Ashley

    Breaking Out of My School Box

    By:  Joy Kirr

    Take care of yourself… Make time for self care… Educators are constantly being told to do this - as if we didn’t already know. Um… Really? If we weren’t able to take care of ourselves last year, we wouldn’t still be in this profession this year.

    So, really, make time for an educational conference? I’m trying to take care of myself. I’m trying to have time for ME. Make sub plans for the day(s) I want to go? Even if I’ve gone practically every other year, I’m trying to not add more to my plate. I’m learning how to say NO. I’m trying to do LESS. If you’ve never been to the IDEA conference (IDEAcon), I can totally understand the doubt about attending this year. I’ve been there - I’ve said no to many opportunities this past year. But will I, personally, attend IDEAcon this year? Yes. Yes! I will make the time, and I will create the sub plans, so I can attend this particular conference. Heading to the IDEA conference IS “self care” for me. Let me tell you why…

    I teach in a building - much like a box. My classroom is a box inside a larger box. In my little box, I am surrounded by (mostly) smaller people (13-year-olds) coming in and out, needing me to be there for them - needing me to be my best. Sometimes I move to other boxes within the large box, for lunch, or for a meeting, and then I get in my vehicle and zip home. 

    This means I talk to the same people every day. I’ve got a great team of teachers I work with, and this school year is much better than last year when it comes to consistency. However, this year teachers (I’m no exception) have different issues we’re dealing with, and even though we always try our best, it’s still a huge strain on our minds and bodies. I keep checking the calendar to see how much we have left, and I’m against countdowns! Even though I love so many aspects of the job… even though I have a lot of autonomy in my little box… even though I learned so much last year about how to stay mentally healthy… I keep bugging my husband to rethink when it’s my time to retire.

    So how will heading to IDEAcon help ME? How is it that I can consider this “self-care?” It’s all about my surroundings… 

    Every year I’ve attended IDEAcon, I’m surrounded by educators who are in the same storm as me. They come from their own boxes within boxes. They’ve gone through similar hardships and have tried different solutions I haven’t yet heard of. The educators that attend are searching for - and open to - new ideas. They bring ideas they probably think aren’t the best, but many of them are better than any I’ve tried. We have time to share with each other and to ask questions. We make time to build on each other’s ideas, and it’s typical that I come back with a few gems to share with those who stayed in my building and couldn’t make this conference. These ideas are then spread throughout my setting, and voila! Many of us are rejuvenated or further inspired! 

    As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the lightbulb icon for this conference - the switch is turned back on, and the electricity gets flowing once again. Inspiration has nestled into the neurons of the brain, and once it’s shared back in my school box, the ideas grow, morph, and infect more minds with more possibilities. 

    Inspiration may come from one of the large keynote sessions that make me feel like I’m where I belong. There is often a message in this presentation that makes me feel seen; my feelings are validated. I feel supported by those around me.

    Inspiration could come from one of the smaller sessions that seem to be tailored just for ME. These educators respond to a need I have. They often provide a very specific activity to take back with me for the very next week with my students.

    And then there are the hallway “sessions.” When you meet an educator friend you’ve only met on Twitter. When you stop for a second, say hello, and then find yourself eating a quick snack on the hallway floor with this person, and you feel like you’ve known them your entire life. They don’t live too far away, and you end up setting a date for a drink next month to discuss this great idea you two just started to develop.

    I’ve been to this conference when it was called the ICE Conference - many times. I’ve presented, I’ve been a “spotlight speaker” (full of nerves), and I’ve taken many selfies with those educators I admire. I’m looking forward to taking them in masks this year - something different for the scrapbook! After a year off, I’m heading back. I’m presenting a session, and I bet I’ll learn something from someone who attends, as I usually do. If nothing else, I’ll enjoy hearing stories from educators in other school boxes - we’ll be breaking down the walls that separate us. We’ll be lifting each other’s spirits, and that has got to count for something during our second February of a pandemic. 

    Take care of yourself… Make time for self care…  One way I’ll be doing that this year is to attend IDEAcon. If you see me, stop for a selfie! Is it really called a “selfie” when it’s two or more people? I’m sure someone at IDEAcon has heard another term for it that I’ll be using soon…

    Click here to register for IDEAcon. I can't wait to see you there!

    Joy Kirr is a 7th grade ELA teacher in her 27th year of teaching, and the author of the books Shift This! How to Implement Gradual Changes for Massive Impact in Your Classroom, and Word Shift: A Different Kind of Dictionary for Educators to Nullify Negativity and Promote Positivity in Schools. She is passionate about students owning their own learning, and has even gone so far as to be the first at her school to try learning without using points. She enjoys being known as a “Genius Hour Evangelist,” and is grateful for how her students have stepped up their learning while giving and receiving feedback in lieu of grades.

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Email: info@ideaillinois.org
Call: 630 628 1088

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Ste 135 PMB 304

Naperville, Illinois 60564

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