The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 3, 2012

Local educators talk teaching technology at summit

JOPLIN, Mo. — It was a conference where attendees were using their smartphones, tablet computers and laptops during the lectures and seminars.

But that was OK. Encouraged even.

More than 200 teachers and administrators from schools across the region gathered Friday at Missouri Southern State University for the first technology summit put on by the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence, an education service organization based in Webb City.

Topics featured in the event’s hourlong seminars were discussion-based, such as strategies to implement technology across schools, and instruction-based, such as effective usage of tablet computers in classrooms.

Mary Ann Gremling, a Southwest Center staff member, said the objective of the summit was to equip teachers with tools necessary to reach students in the age of technology. Educators must start teaching in different ways, she said, because students now learn in ways beyond paper, pencils and textbooks.

“We have a generation of students who are digital natives, and the classrooms have to be prepared,” she said. “We just saw a real big need to help our districts move into the 21st century classroom.”

Vincent Lyons of Leggett & Platt, one of the event sponsors, told attendees that tech-savvy students who are prepared for life beyond high school are critical to the future of business, industry and innovation.

“We need them to be aware of technology and bring it into the workforce,” he said. “The students you are working with today are going to be the Steve Jobs (of Apple) and Bill Gates (of Microsoft) of tomorrow, and it’s the things you are teaching them in the classroom today that are going to be the spark for them.”

Several of the event’s seminars focused on how to use technology in the classroom. Superintendents, principals and teachers offered insight into their own districts.

During one such seminar, Phil Cook, superintendent of Carl Junction schools, said implementing technology in schools involves more than simply adding interactive whiteboards to classrooms. It also involves training staff, providing access to computers, deciding which tools are effective — issues, he said, that in many cases are still being figured out.

The district has not placed the same focus on technology as it has on graduation rates and student performance, Cook said, but administrators recognize the potential importance of technology in reaching students to boost those areas. Last year, the district funded about $140,000 of technology projects for teachers after setting aside a dedicated amount for such projects in the annual budget, he said.

“It’s about getting the resources in our teachers’ hands and our students’ hands to help them grow,” he said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

Other seminars offered hands-on presentations of specific models already being used. William Chamberlain, a sixth-grade teacher at Noel Elementary School in McDonald County, led a session on student blogging. In his classes, students post regular entries on a classroom blog, and read and comment on other classroom blogs.

Chamberlain, who has used blogs in his classroom since 2007, acknowledged that social media, including Facebook, Twitter and blogs, can be intimidating to teachers who are unfamiliar with the platforms or uncomfortable with the immediacy they provide.

“We’re kind of scared of them,” he said. “The idea that students can talk to other people in real time is kind of scary for us.”

But one primary reward for students using social media as part of the curriculum is the possibility of expanding their worldview. When his students read blogs by other children and interact with them in the comments section, they begin to realize that the world extends beyond McDonald County, he said.

Chamberlain said blogging also encourages his students to learn to write for an audience beyond their parents, teachers and peers. The online format encourages community members to easily interact with the students, he said.

Garrett Clark, a science teacher at Monett High School, said he attended the conference to learn about new ways to engage his students.

By midday, Clark had attended two seminars, the first of which was a discussion of the relevance of technology to education. The other session was Chamberlain’s blogging seminar, and Clark said he would consider testing some of the presenter’s ideas in his biology classes.

“My students could read an article from (a science journal or magazine), respond to that article, and then get feedback from around the world,” he said. “That’s pretty amazing.”

Southwest Center

The Southwest Center for Educational Excellence is a consortium of more than 40 public school districts, private schools, colleges and universities in Southwest Missouri. One primary goal of the organization is to provide professional development opportunities for member schools.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Ballot issues dominate GOP event

    A maze of campaign yard signs lined the sidewalk at Big Spring Park, leading up to a line of local candidates for public office with rolled-up sleeves shaking hands with potential voters.

    July 24, 2014

  • Mike Pound: It’s time for some football

    The arrests, the announced suspensions and the contract disputes can mean only one thing: Somebody is ready for some football.

    July 24, 2014

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hanaway says leadership missing under Gov. Nixon

    When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Hanaway walked into the banquet room at Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant this week, she was greeted by some of Joplin’s more prominent business leaders.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shrine Bowl band, cheerleaders, players arrive in Pittsburg this week

    Band members were the first Kansas Shrine Bowl participants to arrive at Pittsburg State University this week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Amendment 8 in Missouri proposes a special lottery ticket to help fund state veterans homes. How will you vote?

For it.
Against it.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter