In an effort to maintain their district’s push toward digitization, ten Baltimore County public schools in Maryland have been chosen to pilot a program known as Lighthouse Schools, part of the Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (STAT) initiative. These schools are segueing into technology-friendly classrooms by distributing digital learning devices to each student and ensuring learning standards are enriched with the most up-to-date technology. Beginning with ten schools, the program plans on reaching every classroom by providing training through teacher development programs to utilize technology to improve how and what students learn. Technology is often considered an equalizer in that it reaches students who would not normally engage in a learning activity. Studies have proven that when students are engaged, doors open and learning floods in.
With one teacher from each grade level present at the conference, attendees will be able to share ideas and collaborate with peers in their same grade level, thereby building camaraderie and confidence before the new information is presented to students district-wide. The conference allowed educators to choose the session they wished to attend; in turn, when they were comfortable with the material, they were able to share it by blogging to their peers who were not present.
Many of the ideas showcased in the sessions were used to stimulate multiple learning modalities to maintain student engagement. A video program as well as the audio program Audacity, which edits and records voices and sounds, were presented to enhance student reading skills. Reading fluency with the aid of technology and media was another topic presented to teachers. Educators were enthusiastic with the focus of technology in the classroom. Whitney Plunkett, a first-grade teacher, stated, “I have learned a lot about the different resources I can use in my classroom to engage my students.”
Baltimore County administrators expect to expand this program to all its schools in the coming years, giving teachers the ability to teach their students in methods more appropriate for the digital future.
What is your opinion on technology in teacher development programs? Do you believe it will create a more successful teacher development program? Let us know; we look forward to sharing ideas with you.