Friday, November 15, 2013

My first time Presenting at IETC

Yesterday I had my first experience presenting at a conference.  The past three days have been the Illinois Educational Technology Conference, IETC 13. I have presented at district wide conferences but this was my first session where I was not familiar with my audience.  It was a. Fantastic experience!
I, along with a teacher from a school that I work at presented on using Twitter in the classroom.  Basically a says to harness Twitter and inspire your students.   You can find the presentation here
As I reflect on my session, I feel as thought he experience was equally beneficial to those that attended and for me!   I stretched myself a little that day.  Of course it was great to collaborate with a fellow educator to create the session, butt he end of our session was an opportunity to share ways that the participants thought they could apply Twitter in their rooms.   We also created a google form to gather everyone's contact info so we could stay continued beyond the conference and hopefully follow each others' classes on Twitter.  
So my challenge to all you readers.  Especially the teachers out there.  Figure out what you are passionate about and find a conference to present at!   Many of you have something worth sharing so do it!  I guarantee you will find it rewarding!

**shameless plug you can find me at ICE 2014 METC 2014 and cross your fingers for ISTE 2014

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Technology, Level the Playing Field

This blog post has been sitting in my list of things that I wanted to blog about for a while now.  Technology in schools:  why it is so important to make technology accessible to ALL students, not just those who some may think 'deserve it.'  I spent a lot of time this week training teachers for a 1:1 initiative coming to our high school so this has been on my mind.
Decatur Public Schools is going 1:1 in their two high schools with MacBook Airs.  Teachers are getting advance practice and training starting now, and students will receive their devices when they move into their new state of the art high schools.  Our school district is in an urban environment with a high free and reduced lunch percentage.  Reality is for many of our students they do not have the money to afford wifi, computers or smart phones. For many students the only technology that they may come into contact with is at school.  For some, this 1:1 program could be a game changer.  I think that's very exciting!
If you ask me, school is suppose to be a place where it doesn't matter what you have at home, you should be able to succeed as much as the next student.  This isn't necessarily the case.  School districts sometimes are not equal.  If you are lucky and born into a family with money you are afforded many experiences outside of school that others who are not as lucky do not get.  When your school is able to provide opportunities to all, no matter your background, this is when the playing field could possibly be leveled.  Because of this, it is not just a nice thing to be able to do for our students, but something that is imperative for our students to be successful.  The future is changing.  We are looking toward preparing our students for college and careers.  Businesses say they are looking for students coming out of high school with a different set of skills than what we have prepared them with in the past.  Problem solvers, ability to collaborate, these are just a few of the skills that going 1:1 can help to support and develop.
In addition to all of the skills that computers can help to unlock and develop there is something else deeper here that going 1:1 can do for any student.  Our district is saying "yes you are worth it and you deserve it."  Our students deserve the best that we can provide for them.  We know that they deserve what others deserve as well, regardless of socioeconomic class.  I believe that this program has the potential to change the way that students view themselves and even inspire some to see new potential in themselves and what they can do with their future.  If their district, school, and teachers believe they are worth this investment, then maybe they will believe it as well.
I will get off of my soap box for now, but there it is.  ALL students are worthy of using technology and ALL students deserve the opportunity.