For those of you who were not lucky enough to attend the Pennsylvania Education, Technology Expo and Conference this year, no worries! Act 48 Academy spent time learning about new educational technologies, meeting the keynote speakers and gathering some fantastic new ideas from teachers. Of course, we are happy to share our experiences with you!
Attending PETE & C as a vendor was an incredible experience for Act 48 Academy. This was the first time we would be able to meet face-to-face with over 1,000 savvy teachers, librarians and technology specialists. This opportunity allowed us to discuss the needs of 21st century teachers, the direction of education and exactly how technology is being used effectively in the classrooms. You may be thinking, why would an on-line professional development company get involved with new education technology? It is true we do not use many of the new gadgets like a Hover Cam or a 3-D printer. We have no interest in buying an online data management system or recycled equipment for a classroom. However, online professional development is new to many PA teachers and we want to formally introduce our easy and affordable process of maintaining professional certifications. In addition to an introduction, we love to hear from teachers! The courses created by Act 48 Academy come from suggestions made by savvy teachers, librarians and technology specialists. During the first day of the conference, we had suggestions for I-pad courses, Science and Stem courses as well as Library Sciences and even more technology courses! We will be working hard over the next few months to bring you those courses and more.
The conference is a great place for anyone to experience new educational technologies and understand how they are being used to enhance learning. One of the most popular and prevalent of the new technologies was content management. Book Systems, Edmentum and PBS Learning Media were in attendance along with other companies like, NumbersBee.com and ProQuest. Book Systems allows librarians all over the country to easily and effectively manage their digital library. ProQuest is not just another digital content provider but also has ancestry software! Super fun and cool for kids and teachers who want to research their history. The 3-D printer and laser-engraving vendors had their machines creating all kinds of cool designs. The HoverCam is not just the 21st century version of an overhead projector but a super high-tech camera that allows teachers to annotate over a live video feed, record, than transfer 100s of hours of video and even record student presentations. These are just a few of the hundreds of vendors that attend the conference!
Every year, PETE & C also hosts keynote speakers that inspire teachers and provide a glimpse into the future of education. This year, Scott Kinney, Guy Kawasaki and Angela Maiers each gave strong but different messages to our PA teachers. Scott Kinney’s focus was on the future of digital education. This included, allowing students to have a choice in how they learn and examples of successful programs already in place. Guy Kawasaki’s speech was called the Art of Enchantment. He explained how to have a positive effect on people around you as well as how to work through some difficult issues. Finally, Angela Maiers discussed how much more effective we can be as learners if we are driven by passion. Inspirational keynote speakers and Hershey’s hot chocolate were fantastic ways to begin the day!
Finally, one of the main reasons teachers attended PETE & C 2015 was for the educational sessions. This year, the presenters were from higher education institutions, educational companies and schools. One session being presented by a teacher, caught my attention. Using Blogs to Enhance Literacy Instruction seemed interesting and in keeping with a blended learning course Act 48 Academy was currently writing. Zahra Tees from Northwood Academy Charter School presented samples of her student’s blogs and shared directions on how she easily implements this type of activity into the curriculum. She explained how the use of Google Blogger, Forms and Groups could be an effective way to encourage students to refine the use to digital communication. Her students would choose a character in a story they read and become that character in the blog. For example, if her student picked Harry Potter as his/her character, they would create the blog Harry Potter would have created. There would be lots of information about magic spells, wands, Hogwarts as well as his friends. The blog might also include links to other sites that interest Harry like tips on caring for owls or how to tolerate horrible family members. The student not only develops a deeper understanding of the character but strong digital communication skills. As a writer of professional development courses, my mind was thinking about countless ways teachers could use this type of activity. Blogs could be used to discuss Science experiments, Math concepts, Social Studies issues and Historical events. They could include pictures, video, links and connections to thousands of useful educational resources! Ms. Tees delivered her presentation with humor, enthusiasm and an infectious energy that immediately connected with the rest of the teachers in the room.
And that is exactly why we wanted to come to PETE & C. To meet teachers who are using technology to enhance learning and making a difference every single day! Ms. Tees made such an impression on me, I asked if she would allow me to come and observe her in action. She enthusiastically agreed! You’ll hear all about her, her students and her amazing school in our very first Teacher Feature coming in April 2015.
We enjoyed meeting everyone at PETE & C and look forward to continuing the learning experiences in 2016.
Interested in using Google in your classroom? Check out our courses:
Keep an eye for The Teacher’s Academy new course: Blended Learning, coming this Spring!