Friday, January 23, 2009

Learning is Still a Thrill

My annual work on the Program for ITEA's Conference often affords me an early glimpse at some of the sessions, workshops, and other events that are being planned. Even though my background is not in education, there are often events that I think I would like to attend - as an ATTENDEE rather than as a staff person. 

Here's a workshop that will be held Wednesday, March 25, from 1pm–4pm that really caught my eye:

"Learning through Electronic Portfolios: Tools, Concepts, and Logistics
This hands-on workshop engages technology teachers in using current tools such as Adobe Flash®, Dreamweaver®, and Photoshop® to enable their students (Grades 8–12) to create web-based portfolios and publish multimedia products on the World Wide Web. Teenagers from around the globe spend many hours a week on the Internet utilizing web-based social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. However, many students have a poor conceptual understanding of how the Internet and web-based media technologies function. They may lack the skills, as practiced in industry, to design and publish custom multimedia products for the WWW. Publishing on the web helps reinforce concept learning, increases technological literacy, and furthers skill development." 

Honestly, I am a bit of a techno-geek and I can't seem to get enough of new computer-related technologies - software, digital images, social networking, you name it. The fact that I'm posting to a blog should be some indication of that. Therefore, that workshop sounds GREAT to me. And even though so much of technological literacy has nothing whatsoever to do with computer literacy, there are times when a crossover is natural and necessary - particularly if teachers want to engage students on their own turf. 

Just the fact that this Conference has dozens, if not HUNDREDS of opportunities for attendees to learn new things should excite anyone who's thinking of coming to Louisville. I haven't been in a classroom for some time now, but that thrill of learning something new is still very real. If you possibly can - Go! Learn! 


Friday, January 16, 2009

Encouraging Authorship

One of the things that has kept me busy this week is working on a presentation for ITEA's upcoming conference in Louisville (March 26-28, 2009). The title of the presentation is "Writing for The Technology Teacher" and the intent is to encourage more classroom teachers to write for ITEA's flagship journal.

In my 11+ years at ITEA, I constantly find myself trying to find new and innovative ways to encourage more writing by teachers. I firmly believe that each teacher has experiences that could benefit others and that they truly WANT to share those experiences. Unfortunately, an already hectic schedule often sabotages that intent. 

We ran a similar presentation about three years ago and it was very well-attended - which tells me that there are plenty of teachers out there who have an interest. Our job is to demystify and simplify the writing and submission process and that's what we hope to accomplish in the session.

At the culmination of the session, I plan to introduce several teachers who have successfully authored articles. One is Brian Lien, a technology and engineering teacher from Cincinnati, Ohio. According to an ITEA survey, Brian wrote the #1-rated article last year, on his experiences with his students to create a machine that counts how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. Brian has a new article, due to be published in the March 2009 TTT, about building a new activity from scratch: creating underwater ROVs. I believe this will be one of the top-rated articles of the 2009-09 publishing year. Why? Because it's what our members want - to understand what's going on in others' classrooms and possibly figuring out how to make it work in their own. 

Because they're asked to do so much with limited resources, most of the teachers I know take on somewhat of a "scavenger" mentality. Building something out of very little. The type of information that is shared in TTT articles goes a long way towards helping other teachers create things that work in their own schools. This is one way that teachers can truly help one another.

FYI - the session is scheduled for Friday, March 27th at 3pm in Louisville.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Virginia Governor Pushes for "Green" Jobs

Today's Washington Post included an article about Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine using his final year in office to, in addition to dealing with the financial crisis, push for more "green" jobs. Kaine plans to entice companies that focus on environmentally-friendly products to the state. He is also emphasizing development of new forms of energy. 

This push, by Governor Kaine is evidence that sustainability and environmental issues are moving more and more to the forefront and that ITEA can have a role in preparing today's students for the opportunities that are now beginning to present themselves.
As part of its overarching "Mission Green Technology," ITEA is currently working to develop a "green" page for its website. But determining what types of information to include has proven to be a daunting task. We are fortunate to have members who are volunteering their time to help us winnow down a great deal of information to something more manageable. 

Stay tuned as we work to take advantage of this opportunity on behalf of our members. It's important to everyone's future. 

Katie de la Paz