Keep­ing up with the times

Con­fer­ence to show­case and train for tech­nol­ogy in the class­room

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­

Teach­ers — new and vet­eran — school board ad­min­is­tra­tion and other in­ter­ested par­ties from New­ton and sur­round­ing coun­ties will con­vene at the end of the month to pre­pare for and learn about tech­nol­ogy op­por­tu­ni­ties in the class­room.

The Fifth An­nual Teach for To­mor­row Sum­mer Tech­nol­ogy Con­fer­ence will show­case class­room tech­no­log­i­cal pro­grams, train teach­ers and of­fer work­shops on July 23 and 24 at New­ton High School, lo­cated at 1 Ram Way in Cov­ing­ton, start­ing at 8:30 a.m. each day.

“It’s show­cas­ing what we do in New­ton County,” said Melissa Jack­son, in­struc­tional tech­nol­ogy co­or­di­na­tor for New­ton County Schools (NCSS).

The first day of the event, which is hosted by the NCSS and its tech­nol­ogy depart­ment, will hold work­shops and break­out ses­sions for teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors and me­dia spe­cial­ists to see what is avail­able in the class­room, in­clud­ing SA­FARI Mon­tage, VIEW­path, ClassFlow and My Big Cam­pus, the por­tal teach­ers and stu­dents use to col­lab­o­rate with each other.

Jack­son said the two-hour work­shops will in­tro­duce par­tic­i­pants to ev­ery­thing that is avail­able, leading into the sec­ond day when teach­ers will re­ceive train­ing with their de­vices and learn how to in­cor­po­rate these tech­nolo­gies di­rectly into les­son plans.

A new of­fer­ing in the sched­ule this year is a key­note ad­dress given on the first day by Kim Bear­den, the 2000 Na­tional Teacher of the Year and co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy. Ac­cord­ing to the NCSS, Bear­den was named one of Ge­or­gia’s Most Pow­er­ful and In­flu­en­tial Women in 2008 by Women Works Me­dia Group.

The NCSS is giv­ing away a free copy of Bear­den’s new­est book, “Crash Course: Life Lessons My Stu­dents

Taught Me,” to the first 500 people to at­tend the con­fer­ence.

Jack­son said people from other school districts are reg­is­ter­ing to at­tend be­cause New­ton County is the “only district in the area to do some­thing like this.”

The con­fer­ence has grown from 125 par­tic­i­pants in the first year to more than 325 last year, ac­cord­ing to the NCSS. Co­or­di­na­tors are ex­pect­ing more than 500 this year. Jack­son said as of two weeks ago, reg­is­tra­tion was up to 340 par­tic­i­pants, not in­clud­ing the about 200 new teach­ers who will at­tend.

In pre­vi­ous years, new teacher ori­en­ta­tion was held on the same day as this con­fer­ence, but ori­en­ta­tion now is tak­ing place the day be­fore, al­low­ing the large num­ber of new teach­ers to jump right in.

NCSS Su­per­in­ten­dent Samantha Fuhrey said teach­ers who are not re­turn­ing in Au­gust have given sev­eral rea­sons for leav­ing, in­clud­ing in­creased salary and ben­e­fits for the same po­si­tion some­where else, re­lo­ca­tion, pro­mo­tion, new fam­ily obli­ga­tions and per­sonal rea­sons. She said the list is in no par­tic­u­lar or­der but that salary and ben­e­fits were “com­mu­ni­cated on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.”

“The Teach for To­mor­row Con­fer­ence is an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for our em­ploy­ees to learn more about ex­em­plary tech­nol­ogy prac­tices that sup­port our strat­egy of tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion,” Fuhrey said. “This year, on the first day of the con­fer­ence, we have in­cluded ses­sions geared to sup­port our new teach­ers; it is im­por­tant that ed­u­ca­tors new to the New­ton County School Sys­tem un­der­stand our ex­pec­ta­tions re­gard­ing the in­te­gra­tion of rel­e­vant stu­dent use of tech­nol­ogy into daily in­struc­tion.

“This con­fer­ence has re­ceived ‘high marks’ re­gard- ing rel­e­vance and demon­stra­tion of pro­gres­sive in­struc­tional tech­niques.”

In­struc­tional Tech­nol­ogy Co­or­di­na­tor Jack­son said some ses­sions were specif­i­cally de­signed for new teach­ers, while oth­ers will be specif­i­cally for ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers.

“Even the ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers, we’re try­ing to al­low them to be­come more in­no­va­tive in the class­room,” Jack­son said. “Be more cre­ative. See what they can do.”

There will be a ven­dor hall for the first time this year, Jack­son said. Small businesses that have showed sup­port to the school district will have ta­bles through­out the con­fer­ence.

Hav­ing ven­dors al­lows the school district to re­frain from charg­ing at­ten­dees, Jack­son said. How­ever, out-of-district par­tic­i­pants will be asked to pay $10 a day to cover their lunch, which will be pro­vided by Chik-Fil-A and Bull­ri­tos.

“With all of the new teach­ers,” Jack­son said, “it can be a good way to show­case what is avail­able in the com­mu­nity.

“We re­ally have be­come a leader in in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy. We have people from all over the coun­try who have come to see what we’re do­ing. We want our teach­ers to be able to show­case what they’re do­ing so well.”

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