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“A Taste of Tech” educational technology conference for educators was conducted at Newtown Middle School on November 8, with schools closed and polls open for Election Day.
The event was open to educators, for $50 per person, and was free to Newtown educators and district support staff. The conference was designed to offer three rounds of different presentations and learning opportunities for attendees.
A committee worked to make conference possible and NMS computer integration teacher Rachel Smith came up with the idea for the conference. She said wanted to help provide support for those who find “tech is not their thing.” Committee members were Barry Palmer, Bev Bjorklund, Carlen Gaines, Carmella Amodeo, Jane McEvoy, Jean Davila, Kathy June, Kathy Swift, Kristin Violette, Liza Zandonella, Megan Biddle, Pia Ledina, and Tim McGuire.
Ms Smith, Ms Ledina, and Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, offered opening remarks at the event.
“We are so happy to have you here today, and we hope that you feel relaxed and comfortable,” said Ms Smith. “If you need help with anything, just let us know.”
She pointed out student ambassadors dressed as chefs for the day to go along with the Taste of Tech theme. The three sessions of presentations were named Appetizers, Main Courses, and Desserts.
The conference was a “labor of love” for the committee, Ms Smith said.
“We all love educational technology and we like sharing it with people. We are so excited to have the chance to share it with people who are eager to learn,” said Ms Smith.
She thanked everyone who helped make the conference possible, before introducing Dr Erardi, who originally approved Ms Smith’s idea for the conference.
“For those that are from out of town, welcome to Newtown,” said Dr Erardi. “It is a great place to be, and we hope that you have a great morning.”
The conference, Dr Erardi told the group, would offer the ability to “close that gap” for technology users.
“I always feel that great conferences allow me to leave with at least one thing that I have learned,” said Dr Erardi.
Demonstrations included a 3D printing presentation by a MakerBot representative and certified trainer Alex Gianacoplos, “Getting the Most out of Good Docs and Apps” by Liza Zandonella, “Helpful Apps for Differentiating Instruction” by Vicki Fielosh, “Boosting Student Creativity and Engagement in the Classroom” by Kevin Berean, “Using Adobe Spark for Amazing Presentations” by Dr Josh Elliott, “Creating a Positive Digital Footprint” by Charles Dumais, “SMART Board Basics” by Barry Palmer, and “A Quick Evolution of Music Technology in Middle School Music Education” by Keith Hedin, Mark Mahoney, and Lou Ianello.
“It went really, really well … better than I could have ever imagined,” said Ms Smith following the event.
Noting feedback from participants, Ms Smith said people found the conference to be meaningful, relevant, and helpful.
“This is our first year and we planted a seed. We will water it, and hopefully it will be able to grow and help more people,” said Ms Smith.
Sponsors for the event included Walgreens, W.B. Mason Supplies, Big Y World Class Markets of Newtown, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Ms Smith said Whitsons Culinary Group also provided food.