BLC18: Making Connections & Learning Fearlessly

What an amazing, exhilarating and inspiring Building Learning Communities Conference! This 19th annual conference organized by November Learning (led by the incredible Alan November) brought together educators from around the world to talk about what the future of education must look like so we can give our students the best chance to succeed in their futures.

After attending and presenting at BLC for the past four years, I can attest to the excitement and enthusiasm it gives me for returning to my classroom to start a new school year. This year’s keynotes were especially exciting: lessons on the importance of social-emotional learning (and with inspiration to tackle it from Dr. Marc Brackett of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence), to the uplifting stories from Aaron Polansky and Joy Kirr, to the empowering examples from Ted Dintersmith’s “What School Could Be.”

Special thanks to the November Learning staff who did all the behind-the-scenes work to make everything look effortless so that all those of us in attendance had to do was show up on time and be ready to listen, contribute and learn.

And finally, my sincerest appreciation for those who attended one (or more, and there were some of you!) of my three sessions at #BLC18! As promised, I have attached links to the PDFs of my session PowerPoints below. If you would like to reach out and ask a question or just continue the conversation, please email me at or follow me on Twitter: @TammyDunbar.

What more could our students learn if we taught fearlessly?


Blue Tickets: Admission to Fearless Learning

Mirror Classrooms: Reflections on Global, Collaborative Learning

Building Blocks of Code: Minecraft &

ISTE 2018 – Collaboration & Creativity in Action!

Where do you start when you get to ISTE?

Do you line up at all the amazing sessions you want to see? Do you spend a good portion of your time in the playgrounds, learning about STEM & Global Collaborations? Do you sit in on all the keynotes and on-stage sessions? And don’t forget about the enormous Expo Hall, chock full of vendors with terrific products, amazing ideas and exciting giveaways!

Even with the incredible array of things to see and do, I still find the best part of any ISTE is the people you meet and the connections you make.

At least a dozen people who looked very familiar came up to me and said, “I Skyped with you!” Another half dozen said they knew me from the movie Microsoft made about my Room Nine Kids and me. Total strangers started talking to me in sessions and at the booths, and when we learned we had similar passions, we quickly exchanged digits.

And then there is the IRL (in real life) meeting of all the wonderful people I’ve known in the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert network for years. It’s like my Facebook, Twitter and GroupMe accounts come to life as I see familiar faces and greet them like old friends – because digitally, they are.

What did I do at ISTE18? I presented at four sessions – Building Empathy Through Global Collaboration & Communication (with Skype in the Classroom), Hack the Classroom: Power Tips from Power Teachers (with Richard Snyder and Jeff Bradbury), Creating an Agile Classroom with Dave Lopez of Screen Beam and Andrea Tolley, and a session at the Microsoft Booth all about Forms! I loved attending the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert events, including our welcome reception and the incredible Hack the Classroom event at the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry (where I got to work the back channels backstage) and the Skype Master Trainer Dinner & Planning Session! But I also loved the sessions I sat in on, including Stephen Reid & Meenoo Rami’s MinecraftEDU session, and Breakout with OneNote with both Maria Turner & Andrea Tolley! The keynote sessions were impressive, and the playgrounds gave me some hands on time to try out some new STEM ideas!

What am I taking home from ISTE18? A lot of cool t-shirts and gifties, ideas and inspiration for new ways to improve my teaching, and connections with friends – new and old – that will help me craft some great learning opportunities for my students!