Dene E. Gainey

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Reflections on FETC (Future of Education Technology Conference)

I have been so busy trying to implement the strategies and tools gained from attending this conference that I am very late on posting this blog. The Future of Education Technology depends on us learning, knowing, implementing, allowing, embracing, and integrating. There was so much information discussed during this conference, from the keynote speakers to the poster sessions and from the breakout sessions to the many conversations and opportunities for sharing with educators from around the state of Florida and beyond.  Below is an example of an activity used within a Language Arts classroom that combines the arts with writing. Google Slides allows students to bring these areas together in seamless display.

One of the greatest benefits and takeaways from the F.E.T.C. Conference was the understanding that technology can be integrated into any classroom and not only that, it should be integrated. The above visual identifies that way in which a school combined Science, Visual Arts and Language Arts into a cross-curricular experience. There are great benefits to connecting multiple areas of the curriculum so that students can understand these relationships, as well as learn in a variety of ways.

In this example, the presenters discussed a way to bring life to a biography. We certainly cover nonfiction reading as a part of ELA but why not make learning more engaging for students by integrating the technology component? In this example, students either created an image (using Sketchbook EDU), or found an image to to integrated into an app called ChatterPix (screenshot pictured below).

 

For example, if students were learning about Martin Luther King Jr, he or she might google search for a podium graphic, since it represents much of what Martin Luther King Jr. embodied in life. That graphic can be imported into ChatterPix and using coloring tools, colored over, to become a new image. See the video below, that was a bowl made from glass originally, transformed into Captain Granite.

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EdTech Karaoke (below) was a fun time, as it brought out the singer and songwriter and artistic talents. It was so great to see so many educators who were not only concerned about their classrooms, but music and the arts as well.

The question "Why" should be asked when attempting to integrate technology into the classroom. We want the integration to have meaning for students and we can't just put an iPad in their hands and expect that they would not need guidance in its use. How can we make technology as meaningful as possible? (Consider why the technology is being used).

  1. Introduce a topic (Nearpod)
  2. Build understanding - (Google Earth)
  3. Apply learning (includes voice and choice) - iMovie, Buncee

Newsela allows students to read on an appropriate lexile level and if students require more scaffolding, they can navigate through and select a lexile level more appropriate for them. This is helpful for students as they learning the research process and there is a wealth of information at their fingertips.

What would any conference be like without interacting and engaging in excellent dialogue with other educators? Just as much as the sessions and the keynote speakers, these conversations allowed for rich learning experiences with lots to think about or consider.

Below is a video that captures a few of the highlights from FETC with my voice in the background. I used this to present to teachers back at the school. It does not encompass everything but do enjoy. It's not about the technology, it is about what you do with it, the pedagogy. Yes! Let's not go backwards.

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Michael Meechin shared that "The future of education is you." It can't be done without passionate educators who are excited to try new things, make mistakes, make everything a learning experience, both for the educator and the students and ultimately, keeping the students as the unique focus of every classroom.

Recent Events - Where Do we go from here?

By this point, the world knows about the recent hit that the city beautiful has taken. It has been a challenging few days to hold back the emotion and the tears, as we  hurt together. Why? That is the question in the minds of many at this time because things like this seem to always happen to innocent, good people. As I began to really think about this whole thing, and read about it on news headlines and media web sites, I wondered what is at the heart of an incident like this. The conclusion I was able to draw is simply that life is fragile and that there is truly no way to knowing when events like this would occur and moreover, to prepare for them. With the life we have, every day must be lived on purpose, and we simply must be there for others, love on purpose, live on purpose and be intentional. Don't wait to demonstrate compassion. As an educator, I know that events such as these would weigh heavily on the minds of students and naturally they will ask questions about these horrific events, perhaps out of curiousity or even fear. It is our duty to embrace, advocate for and protect those we have been charged with. I cannot help but be moved to teach harder, to try even harder to make a difference in the lives I am honored to influence. I think this is a reminder to all who deal with kids that we must be vigilant as well as good listeners. Let them express themselves, interact with them and show them what it means to know love and compassion, as well as acceptance and diversity. It is our duty as educators to not only focus on curriculum but bridge gaps. In fact, we must focus on the character of the students we teach, not just the curriculum. Orlando is still the city beautiful.