This article was published in one of our local newspapers, The Spinal Column, and was written by ANNE SEEBALDT.
The annual Spice IT UP! Walled Lake Consolidated School District staff technology conference, which took place at Sarah Banks Middle School on Thursday, August 22, was a resounding success.
“It was a pretty fantastic event,” said Executive Director of Instruction, Technology and Development Mark A. Hess at the district’s school board meeting that evening.
Pam Shoemaker, technology instructional coach, who was heavily involved in the planning of the event and also conducted presentations throughout the day’s breakout sessions, stated: “There was just a smorgasbord of offerings for teachers.”
In fact, there were 54 presentations total, she said. The event, which has been offered for nine years, included lots of networking, collaboration and sharing, she added.
All but three presenters were district staff members, “They’re learning from people using the same equipment, so the support is really there for them after the fact as well,” stated Shoemaker.
More than 400 Walled Lake School teachers were in attendance as Troy Hicks, associate professor, Central Michigan University, who opened the session, shared numerous ways to incorporate digital resources and encourage students to write.
His presentation, Mixing Sources, Amplifying Voices: Crafting Writing in an Information Age, was interactive. Its intent was to aid teachers to “help students find, evaluate, and synthesize information from a variety of sources” as well as to “help them craft digital writing in more effective ways, utilizing the information they have found to develop multimedia texts.”
Teachers were required to bring their own digital device to explore “web-based tools and mobile applications” for Hicks’ presentation. He also hosted a post-keynote conversation with educators to follow up on their questions.
A sampling of the topics addressed at the various breakout sessions included: • Read & Write Gold, a literacy software designed for use with grades 6-12 • New enhancements to the Skyward pupil accounting system • Pixie, an elementary school software that allows students to create multimedia presentations as well as facilitates simple animations • iPad use in the classroom for elementary educators •How to put a lesson on You- Tube • Use of Google Chromebook, which includes basic information about Google Apps for Education (for most of the schools, this will be the first time using Chromebooks) • How to use of Google Forms to create online assessments • Use of Google Sites in the classroom • Updating writing workshops for the digital age and creating students’ own digital writing spaces using Wikispaces • Why and how teachers should use Twitter
Shoemaker said one change from past years was the fact that larger presentation rooms were used, giving event a conference-style format. “It was a great change,” she added. “People seemed to be happy with the way it worked. And the staff (of Sarah Banks Middle School) did a great job getting the school ready.”
Attendees were asked to provide feedback about their experience at the conference. They identified plans for implementing what they had learned at the conference in their classrooms. It is going to be a great year!