The recent FETC conference was a whirlwind of presentations and information on technology in the classroom. We were on hand to offer a workshop, co-presented with fifth-grade teacher Tracy Staley, and our own Kelly Mendoza, on how Tracy uses Digital Passport in her classroom at Ponce de Leon Elementary in Clearwater, Florida.
Tracy was recently awarded the Pinellas County Outstanding Educator of the Year and was one of five finalists nominated for the Florida Department of Education’s teacher of the year award in 2012, so we thought you might want to hear from her about the FETC experience. We asked her to answer four quick questions on the plane home.
Common Sense Media: What's one of the most interesting ideas you heard?
Tracy Staley: I love attending conferences because of the networking possibilities. I spoke with a teacher who, whenever he needs to be out, records his sub plans using a webcam. He lets the guest teacher know when to stop and start the video and gives directions in his sub plans of what they should be looking for in the students’ work. I thought this was a great way to ensure days the teacher is out of the classroom are not wasted!
CSM: What's the most interesting question anyone asked you?
TS: How I address the varying abilities of my students concerning their exposure to tech tools. This is an ongoing challenge because I have some students who have only seen the computer at school and others who are teaching me shortcuts and giving me tips about technology. I had an interesting conversation with a teacher who has an afterschool computing class for her less savvy students. Doing this allows her to give these students some one-on-one attention, which catches them up much quicker than if she tried to squeeze it into her daily schedule. Her question ended up leading me to new strategies I could implement in my classroom!
CSM: What was the buzzword of the day at the conference?
TS: The words I heard most often were Common Core. It seems everyone wanted to show how their products or curriculum address the Common Core standards. I think it’s great that these folks have been thinking ahead; it’ll make their products more teacher-friendly!
CSM: What's your airport pet peeve?
TS: The people who stand in the walking lane on the moving walkway! I have been moments away from missing a flight and forced to try to maneuver around people who are obviously in no hurry AND standing in the passing lane. Not surprisingly, it bothers me just as much when people are driving slowly in the passing lane!