This year, I was awarded the Thatcher Professional Development Grant, which allowed eleven faculty members to attend the Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC). We even had three presenters this year, as well! The conference was a wonderful opportunity for us to learn from other teachers, visit different vendors, and share what we are doing with technology here at Darlington.
The keynote speaker for the conference was Leland Melvin, an astronaut and chemist. He was incredibly motivating, as he shared his life story, which led to his amazing career. I wish that he could come speak to our students about perseverance, and his career in the field of STEM.
The rest of the week was spent attending different sessions from teachers all over Georgia and speakers from all over the USA. What I love about this conference is you do not have to be an expert on everything to present, just passionate about something you are doing in your classroom. It is always refreshing to hear how teachers are using technology in so many different ways to benefit their students. Steph Bradshaw, Kippi Ellison, Andrew Beckman, and I were even able to ESCAPE from the Escape Bus, which was a STEM themed bus that took us to the moon. We had an amazing time figuring out how to beat the clock and figure out all the locks that we had to open. We had to use 3D printing, math, chemistry, virtual reality, and Bloxels (game design) to complete the task with only 30 minutes. Not only did we escape, we were the FASTEST group all week, with over seven minutes to spare!
We had several teachers present this year in concurrent sessions! I was so excited to see our school being represented so well. It was encouraging to hear feedback from how incredible our teachers are and how fortunate our students are to be exposed to such a wide variety of technology integration.
Our kindergarten teacher Jody Deaton presented on using connected toys in the primary classroom. She did an amazing job showcasing how to use different tech tools and how to integrate them seamlessly into the curriculum. At the end of her presentation, teachers were able to play with the tech toys and examples that she had brought for them to try out.
Kaitlin Ward, our Pre-K to 8 librarian, presented on tradition meets technology. She talked smashing traditional read aloud with a STEAM focus. I loved hearing about how engaged the students were with the STEAM projects in the library.
Rebekah Kinney, technology integration coordinator, presented on our school-wide STEM day that took place last May. Georgia STEM Day is a TAG (Technology Association of Georgia) sponsored day where students all over Georgia learn more about STEM related careers and participate in various STEM activities. She also showcased how we integrate STEM into the curriculum. She always does an amazing job displaying student work and explaining our technology integration program.
Other Darlington teachers that attended GaETC this year were:
I really enjoyed seeing teachers step out of their comfort zone and showcase their passion with others. We had a really good time stepping out of the classroom and learning new things to bring back in with us.