I have just returned from my second North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTies) conference. NCTies serves a great way to network with fellow educators across the state and learn about emerging classroom technologies. In addition to attending NCTies, I presented with my colleague, Becky Swiger, on ways to blend technology with traditional teaching practices. Overall, I would grade-out the conference as a big success.
My session, entitled Classroom 2.0, was a lot of fun because we got to share all the great work my fellow teachers have done in the Piedmont cluster. We received many compliments afterward because we infused our presentation with real classroom examples and video testimonials created by the teachers and students that I serve. We also highlighted our school system’s 1:1 Access Model and how it’s been transformed by the 23,000 Lenovo X131e Chromebooks we issued to students in the fall. Google Apps for Education has transformed teaching in Union County Schools and I feel that our students are finally preparing for the jobs of tomorrow.
In addition, I could not have pulled off this presentation without my two partners, Becky and my trusty new MacBook Pro. Keynote is a powerful presentation tool and iMovie was an absolute lifesaver. Each video was shot with an iPhone and edited on my Mac. To learn more about our presentation and the materials we created for NCTies attendees you can check out the Google site we built to support our session:
Other highlights from NCTies include the exceptional presentations delivered by my fellow Union County Instructional Technology Facilitators. Our elementary team did a fantastic job showing how technology can help teachers differentiate and reach the individual learning needs of their students. From shared Google folders to county-wide research projects, the group showed how technology can help shape the learning of even our youngest students. I also heard really great things from the two presentations my fellow colleague Lisa Thompson assembled for the conference. She is a great asset to our team and I know she impressed all those who showed up for her sessions.
Another Union County highlight was that our Deputy Superintendent for Instructional Technology and Operations, Dr. Michael Webb, received an award for Outstanding Leadership. He has been a visionary when it comes to building our 1:1 Access model and he has assembled a great team of educators and engineers to help carry out our goals. I am really proud to be a part of this team and have enjoyed Dr. Webb’s leadership going back to the days when he served as my principal at Monroe High. I worked with him to transform that school and now we are doing it on a larger scale as we transform technology education across the county and state.
There was a lot of exciting presenters at the conference outside of Union County, too. I especially appreciated the last keynote delivered by Adam Bellow. He is the creator of eduClipper, a free web tool focused on helping students and teachers find, share, and build valid learning experiences in a K-12 safe educational social platform. His speech focused on the need to move away from the assembly line approach to education and move toward more project based learning. As an educator, I have always found that putting students in charge of creating is far more effective than memorizing terms and practicing test questions. While I taught U.S. history with state mandated testing hanging over my head, I never let it undermine my believe in the power of creative learning. I also believe that my test scores were higher because of this approach. Needless, to say Bellow’s words were refreshing.
In my next post, I will cover some of the cool take aways I got from the conference. Cool apps, cool strategies and other cool things. Speaking of takeaways, it was great seeing my two college roommates this week. Lee Eakes and Phil Daye are great friends. I could not have survived the ups and downs of life at Appalachian State without them.