There is an explosion in the use of technology in school classrooms and personal learning today. It is tremendously demanding for teachers to keep pace with the young people they teach who were born into the new world of technology. Accepting the challenge, twenty-five educators from Floyd County Schools attended the 27th annual Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC) held earlier this month at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. GaETC is a conference dedicated to technology professional development for educators. The conference featured 250 concurrent sessions on tech topics trending in 21st century classrooms.
Flipping the classroom was a new concept for many at the conference but it is a staple of the daily classroom activities of Roy Mitchell, a science teacher at Coosa Middle School and the system teacher of the year for Floyd County Schools. Flipping the classroom is a model where teacher lectures are recorded on video and students view them for homework. This allows students to spend class time interacting with the teacher and working on projects. Mitchell uses YouTube to deliver his lectures to students. Stephen Price, computer science teacher at Model Middle School, said, “My biggest takeaway is the concept of “20 time” which is flexible time with a purpose of self-directed learning, goal setting and critical thinking.” Teachers also found digital storytelling tools Animoto and PowToons to be exciting ways to use technology to engage students.
Alyson Lansdell, PLC Coordinator at the Floyd County Schools College and Career Academy, fell for the technology applications for mobile devices. Lansdell said, “I was intrigued by Word Lens which is an app that will translate any written word to several different languages in real time.” She has already exposed teachers in her school to Anatomy 4D, an amazing app where teachers can expose students to a beating heart.
Jennifer Bennett, a Pre-K teacher at Alto Park Elementary, plans to bring back STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts to use with her little ones in the classroom. She said, “I also would like to work in some “20 time” into my classroom to give children time to truly grow and explore.”
Educators from Floyd County Schools also had the opportunity to share their successes in the classroom during the convention. Lee Green, instructional technologist for Floyd County Schools, presented integrating Google Apps for Education into the classroom. Beth Wardlaw, STEAM teacher at Armuchee Middle School, presented her school’s use of an exciting robotics program.
Some of Wardlaw’s 8th graders showed off what they had learned at the convention’s Student Showcase. The Armuchee students demonstrated how they use Google Glass, Vex Robotics, and Hummingbird kits in their learning. Eli Brock, an 8th grader and Technology Society of America President at Armuchee Middle, said, “STEAM curriculum benefits and engages students and we are proud to represent Armuchee Middle and contribute to the conference.” Kaytlyn Williams, 8th grader at Armuchee, taught the teachers who stopped by the student showcase how to use the technology tools she benefits from in her class.
Increasing the use of technology and its integration into learning is one of the major challenges ahead for Floyd County Schools as the school system embarks on the mission of Destination Graduation for Every Child! Tech teaching methods learned at the conference will improve opportunities for children in the classrooms of the participants and spread throughout the schools as these teachers share what they have learned with their peers. Proper utilization and integration of technology into the classroom serves to increase teacher efficiency, student engagement in learning and will help more of our community’s youth to achieve the goal of graduation.