Seven middle school students and their teacher helped “put Yuma on the map” when they recently traveled to be presenters at the 2013 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference in San Antonio, Texas.
With more than 20,000 people present at the event, the eighth-grade students from Castle Dome Middle School and their Advanced Language Arts teacher Cary Fields shared with conference-goers how technology had positively impacted their classroom productivity.
Fields said that during the course of the five-day event, students had the opportunity to show-off their digital portfolios to those in attendance and explain how they utilize technology in line with the Common Core standards for English language arts. She added that they also were able to talk with people about their successes and how they found solutions to problems they encountered along the way.
Regardless of whether or not they were able to attend the conference, attendees were able to view all 25 of Fields' students' digital portfolios. Their portfolios includes things like their own web page through Weebly.com, which allows students to share blog posts and podcasts and display their assignments with people all around the world.
Fields said that while attending ISTE, she learned that making connections with colleagues is an essential part of staying current in the ever-progressing field of technology. She added that she benefitted greatly from the opportunity to learn from fellow educators and see how digital resources were being used in other classrooms.
Christa Fairman, educational technology specialist with Yuma Education Technology Consortium, also attended the conference and said that teachers were very impressed with the Yuma students and how knowledgeable they were.
“I think overall, teachers were impressed by the fact that the student could choose more than one way to demonstrate learning... They were just in awe, particularly of the social media that she uses, and she structures it in such a way that students are getting lessons not only in the academic things that she wants them to be able to demonstrate learning in, but they're also getting those very important skills of that social media training, of what's appropriate, what's not appropriate, and it's just all very nicely woven in to it. It's never about the tool, it's about the education and everything else that needs to happen.”
Recent eighth-grade graduate Justin Mendivil said that the past year's worth of fundraising and planning for the trip to ISTE was well worth it.
“During the showcase I met many teachers that were interested in what we were doing. Not only interested; they saw how fondly we thought of the extensive use of technology in the classroom and wanted to do the same for their student,” he said. “That was a great feeling knowing that you had what other people would love to have too, and that you could give it to them and spread the word about it simply by showing and informing them of our showcase.”
Fellow classmate Aylin Campa said that her experience at ISTE was fantastic to say the least.
“My favorite part about conference was being able to tell others what we did in our classroom and presenting them the work we've done. I loved how some people were very interested in hearing about us.”
She said that she plans to take what she's learned in her Advanced Language Arts class onto high school with her.
Another student chosen to be a presenter at ISTE, Lizbeth Perez, agreed with Campa and said that she's thankful for the things that Fields taught her as they will be useful to her in her later education.
“I now have platforms to do assignments I never thought were possible. The things I learned this year expand my knowledge greatly, and I have Mrs. Fields to thank for that,” she said.
While at the conference she said she benefitted greatly from presenting to others.
“At first, I was nervous, but then I got the hang of talking to the people in attendance,” she said. “I believe that they appreciated the knowledge we shared with them, such as the app brochures and the idea of keeping a website as an online portfolio. Presenting really helped my social skills and it felt great knowing that the educators were learning something from me.”
Visit www.mrsfieldsadvenglish.weebly.com to view the Advanced Language Arts website or www.techeteacher.com to view Fields' website.