Johnson City Schools Tech Day moves teachers into future

Brandon Paykamian • Jul 25, 2018 at 9:31 AM

On Tuesday morning, more than 250 instructors attended Johnson City Schools’ Tech Day, a Science Hill High School event featuring seminars and presentations for teachers across the district to learn educational technology techniques from their peers.

“Every session led today is from a Johnson City teacher, and this has really grown over the past three years to be a time for teachers to come together, connect and learn what tools are out there that they can innovate with,” Supervisor of Secondary and Instructional Technology David Timbs said.

Laura Edwards, a third-grade English and social studies instructor at Mountain View Elementary School, joined about 50 presenters from within the school district.

Edwards’ aim was to teach instructors more about how to utilize Seesaw, a program much like a parent-teacher social network that allows parents to see what’s being taught in the classroom and track students’ academic progress.

After becoming familiar with the program, she applied for a grant last year that awarded her over $4,000 from the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation. The funding allowed her to further utilize the program in her classroom.

“My plan is to use iPads to expand our Seesaw abilities. I’ve been limited to my iPhone to take pictures and videos and things like that,” she said. “Now I’ll have iPads to put in the kids' hands, and the kids can take over and film themselves reading, so I know where they come in in August and where they’re going to be in December.”

Wendy Whitmore, an instructor at Science Hill who teaches AP seminar, English and theory of knowledge, said part of the goal of some of the Tech Day presentations was to encourage teachers to do what Edwards had done when she explored new ways to use technology in her class.

“Technology is a game changer,” Whitmore said. “We’re really trying to empower teachers to write grants for both tech and experiences where they can grow, change and become better educators.

“Most of our teachers are presenting on tools to better their instruction, so the spirit of this day is to bring together some of the best teachers and sharpen their skill sets for the next year.”

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