On Friday, January 27th, I had the pleasure of attending Brock University's Technology Showcase. I was very excited about this professional development event because I have learned in such a short time just how amazing technology is when integrated into the classroom.
The first workshop I attended was put on by Giancarlo Brotto from SMART Technologies. This workshop was fabulous - I learned so much in a 75 minute period. Mr. Brotto was a very engaging presenter, and was able to get us involved in his presentation by utilizing the technology that he has obviously mastered: the SMART Board. Even more, he explained to us the extent to which SMART Technologies are useful in an increasingly tech-based classroom. For example, he talked to us about SMART Sync, the program that a teacher can use to literally block students from using any potentially distracting websites (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to name a few) on their computers while he or she is instructing. He mentioned the new SMART Table that is being introduced which will allow younger Primary grade students to work as a group using the interactive surface. Finally, Mr. Brotto showed us how to effectively use clickers and the Front Row system to benefit all learners and teach under a Universal Design for Learning approach.
I also attended the "iPads in the Elementary Classroom" workshop which proved to be inspiring. Presenters included a principal and three teachers from a Halton Catholic school who have facilitated learning in their school via the iPad and its numerous Apps. Two classroom teachers spoke to using the iPad as a way for students to engage more intensely with word study and guided reading practices. The special education resource teacher talked about using the iPad to successfully reach an SK student who had appeared to have no interest in integrating into a school environment.
These technologies are incredible and provide amazing opportunities for both students and teachers to learn and grow. Mr. Brotto of SMART Technologies made a poignant point: using technology in the classroom is not about teaching how to use technology, but how to teach via technology. Technology is not what needs to be learned, it simply provides a more current, meaningful and engaging journey to the gaining of knowledge.