SVRTC Members Participate in Conference Round-up

Two women talking.

On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, SVRTC members from fourteen school divisions were present for the first meeting of the fiscal school year. The topic of professional development included a conference round-up, where various members shared learning from conferences and other professional development experiences.  Members who shared included:

Melissa Hanes, Media Specialist from Buckingham schools, gave members an overview of the emPOWerHatan conference she attended in August.  Melissa presented Google Expeditions at the conference but also shared conference learning in regards to literacy, maker stations, and collaborations across the curriculum using computers and iPads to create projects.  This was the first year that Powhatan public schools held the conference, which also served as a professional development day. 

Stephanie Playton, ITTIP’s STEM Learning Specialist, reported on the ISTE conference held in Philadelphia in June. She and Dr. Leach presented their work with the InTEL grant that involved eighteen teachers focusing on global collaboration, problem-based learning and alternative assessments.  Some of trendy items she found at the ISTE conference included digital storytelling, podcasting, AR and VR, and anything Google.  She added some of the newer topics at the conference included artificial intelligence, coding robots and eSports.

Marcia Martin, Director of Instruction, Grants & Technology with Nottoway, shared information on the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC).  It is a four-day conference that costs $600.00 and she stated it is well worth the money to attend.  Marcia reported there was a diversity of workshops that were offered during the conference and a very large Expo that provided many hands-on opportunities to try out technology tools.  While exploring the Expo, Marcia and others from her division were able to try out a new state of the art interactive Play Wall and ended up purchasing one for their elementary school.

Bill Wilson, Senior Technology Engineer with ITTIP/SVRTC, discussed his attendance at the Interop conference held in Las Vegas in May.  This conference is for IT personnel to learn about emerging technology.  He stated that augmented reality and artificial intelligence were hot topics.  He encouraged members to attend and learn about new products that could potentially save school divisions money.

Other members who shared their conference experiences included Cori Sowers, ITRT with Danville City Schools. She shared her notes from the Techstravaganza 2019 on the SVRTC Facebook group page. 

Brook Hatcher with Mecklenburg schools informed members that her division held a one-day conference style event with their teachers as presenters for professional development.  She stated the presenters shared information from VSTE.  This style event worked better than having several different professional development days.  The teachers liked the format and they hope to continue with this for next year. 

Tim Mays, Instructional Technologist with Sussex Schools, shared his experience from the PowerSchool University in Florida. He also attended emPOWerHatan conference.  He also shared that he attended CodeVA where he learned how to incorporate computer science in the curriculum. 

The meeting provided an informative view of technology in education across several learning experiences. Links to member presentations can be found on the Professional Development page.

Transforming Spaces

Innovation is kicking off in a unique way at Brunswick High School as the learning environment shifts from a traditional setting with desks and little movement to one where students have non-traditional seating and are free to move and collaborate. Ms. Tiffeney Brown, BHS Principal has led this transformation through repurposing various spaces in the high school to facilitate 21st Century Learning.  Students are excited and motivated about learning in these new spaces designed with colorful themes and an abundance of materials for peer collaborations and creativity. 

The major area of focus has been transforming the library into a media center designed around a STEAM framework. This transition includes the creation of an interactive lab, a Maker Space room that includes a separate area for circuits, coding, design and robotics, a multimedia room for video production and an open working space equipped with laptops and a ClearTouch interactive board.  The space provides an inviting environment for mental relaxation, creativity, and stimulation. The new media center, also popular area of the high school, and has been reserved by teachers of all subjects.  Recently students visited the Maker Space room to paint and create crafts as a way to release stress and mentally prepare for SOL testing.  Teachers have also been busy with learning how to use the ClearTouch interactive board and facilitating SOL review using the board. 

students in lab.

Mrs. Dalgis Mejia, high school Spanish teacher, recently facilitated a learning experience for her Spanish students in the interactive lab. Students participated in Skype sessions with their Colombian penpals to use their foreign language skills to learn about each other’s culture.  The media center has proven to be a valuable part of the high school as students now have the opportunity for creation, design, production and real world learning experiences. 

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