The annual Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference is the highlight of the conference season for thousands of educators throughout the state of Texas and nationally. The Round Rock ISD Directors of Professional Development, Library Services, Instructional Technology, and Curriculum attended and share their highlights below:
Edie Binns, Director of Professional Development – Narrowing it down to one thing is difficult! My first draft included 5 bullets and at least 10 ideas. There were so many great presenters and sessions at TCEA and I really enjoyed the experience. This idea, from Royse City ISD really piqued my interest: The Lesson Fixer Upper. I love this idea of bringing people together to collaborate with the common goal of improving a lesson a unit. Teachers have a starting point: a lesson or unit they want to improve or enhance. They walk away with something tangible: a better version of what they brought. And the experience is all about reflection, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
Ami Uselman, Director of Library Services – While visiting our vertical learning communities across the district I’ve heard the cry to provide our students with more voice and choice. When addressing personalized learning voice and choice is very important. Choice and voice is exactly what TCEA is all about! Technology is a tool for providing engagement, self-directed learning, differentiation and a plethora of options for providing students with voice and choice in learning. Learning pathways One session I will share with my team is the use of choice boards. Creating Web Tools to Engage Discovery The concept isn’t original but there are many new designs and tools to include that are new. At one of the sessions, we generated a list of the most used apps and the most popular tools already being used by students. Tools from the audience This was a great reminder there are already many resources available, we just need to allow students the opportunity to have more control over what, where and when they learn. Spaces that Matter.
Jeff Uselman, Director of Instructional Technology – My focus for the conference was the role that leaders play in leading change in both people and processes and the things we can do to promote these changes in a positive, collaborative light. At the Tec-Sig luncheon, I heard John Wink, author of Excellence in Every Classroom, speak about the reasons teachers leave the profession and how we as technology leaders have the tools to help them be successful. As I reflected on his comments, I realized that our department, and specifically the ITS, are in a great position to check in with teachers new to the profession and provide a supportive hand as they work through their first year of teaching. I have already let Ms. Binns know to include us in the planning of New Teacher Orientation and support for these new folks. I am looking forward to being part of this process.
Darrell Emanuel, Director of Curriculum – I went into the week wanting to learn more about three topics: ePortfolios, Blended Learning, and Personalized Learning. I was not disappointed about all the opportunities to gain more knowledge in these areas, as well as many others including Future Ready Schools and Open Educational Resources. If I had to choose the one thing I am most excited about that influences my work is the idea of ePortfolios.
I sat in various sessions that showed different examples of ePortfolios at every level of a district, from students to teachers to administrators. The use of the breadth of use varies from classroom or department to full campus implementation to district-wide use. Some people aligned their ePortfolios to selected 21st Century Skills, others aligned teacher ePortfolios to T-Tess standards. There were a number of resources used to create the portfolio including Google Sites and Book Creator (free version). There were other sessions that showed how you could smash multiple tools to make the portfolio more powerful, like using flipgrid for individuals to submit their reflections as opposed to typing them out.
This reflection was supposed to be a short paragraph, but I didn’t feel like I could do it justice without expanding a little more. Still, a lot more to say. I can’t wait to start implementing them with my team. If you are interested in learning more, just let me know.
Nearly 20 Round Rock ISD teachers, librarians, and Instructional Technology Specialists, also presented sessions during the conference. Click the folder icon below to access their presentation slide decks.