This week we held the kick-off sessions for the Spartanburg County Instructional Technology Academy (SCITA) at USC-Upstate. The three-day workshop was the start of a graduate course that is funded by an E2T2 grant that Spartanburg school districts 1, 2, 5, and 7 had applied for and received. In addition to the graduate course, participants would receive and be trained in emerging technology for their classrooms.
The first day began with an overview of the program and an introduction to the course by Dr. Jimmy Pryor, who will be the instructor. Danielle Stengle from CSI Outfitters then spoke to the group about using technology for special needs students.
After the morning sessions the group divided into two cohorts and received their first piece of equipment – an HP netbook. We spent the rest of the afternoon learning how to use the devices and configuring them with software that would be needed for the rest of the course.
Day two we had Chris Craft from Irmo address the group about engaging students with technology. Chris is a Spanish teacher at Cross Roads Middle School, and recently gave the keynote address at the Upstate Technology Conference this summer.
The afternoon of day two was also divided into cohorts. One group received Kindle Readers while the other group worked with Skype. Each group received instructions on using the equipment, and we discussed ways that these might be used in the classroom.
Unfortunately, there were some problems with our wireless access, and it wasn’t as successful as we might have hoped. But, it seems like they still enjoyed it.
Our final day started with a talk by Martha Alewine on standards for media literacy and information technology. Martha also addressed the key role that the school media centers should play in the technology programs.
During the course of the workshops I was pleased that several of the participating district’s superintendents stopped by to talk to the group. Our own Dr. Scott Turner and Janet Jennings dropped by during an afternoon session, as did Dr. Jimmy Littlefield from District 1 and Dr. Moore from District 2.
The last day of the program the cohorts received an iPod Touch to round out their equipment and a copy of our course textbook, “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works.” One group learned the mechanics of the iPod, while the other learned about resources for creating audio and video files.
The course will continue with weekly sessions at USC-U. In addition to the equipment received in the kick-off sessions, the participants will receive some additional equipment funds for their classrooms, and some funding to attend technology conferences and workshops. It was fun working with these teachers, and it’s exciting to see them energized about new classroom technology.