-Ruth Durand, Educator at Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School
When I was first approached by my principal to attend BestPrep’s Technology Integration Workshop last spring, I thought I was the last teacher on our staff who should be attending anything technology-related. One of my colleagues who had previously attended assured me that you don’t have to be a tech wizard to benefit. This, along with her positive recounting of her experience attending, convinced me to give it a try. Within the first few minutes of the workshop, it was clear that all levels of experience with technology were accommodated through the wide variety of presentations and break-out sessions.
The four days of this workshop flew by. The information shared by the presenters (many of them teachers), the resources provided, and networking opportunities with fellow teachers inspired me to explore new ways to integrate technology in my classroom. Here are just a couple of the outcomes I experienced:
- Increased student engagement – As a result of the information presented in a breakout session about digit presentation tools, I’ve started using PowerPoint and an Active Board for my reading lessons with my 3rd and 4th grade students with learning disabilities. Using these new tools have resulted in more engaging lessons due to features including animations, image enhancements, sound effects, and embedded online content. My students especially enjoy learning new vocabulary words through visual representations of the words and the use of animation. I’m continually exploring more features of this and other presentation tools.
- Lesson plan design – One of the tasks in this workshop was to develop a unit of study or lesson plan linked to state academic standards that incorporates the use of technology. This collaborative project enabled me to work with my small group leader to develop an updated unit plan. It was very helpful to have someone available to answer questions, give suggestions, and provide feedback as I worked on this project. In my experience as a teacher, it’s a rare opportunity to have technology support available exactly at the time needed!
- Business tour & networking – One of the best personalized experiences of the workshop was a tour of a company’s offices and learning from business leaders. This especially piqued my curiosity and stretched me to learn things I otherwise wouldn’t know about. During my tour, I learned about cyber security and ways that businesses protect data. I shared the information I learned with our school district technology staff, so even they gained from my attendance.
The BestPrep Technology Integration Workshop was truly a valuable experience for me. In fact, after many years of teaching, I am finding new enjoyment in teaching basic skills in a new way! It has had a direct impact on my confidence with technology, the way I teach, and the achievement of my students.