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Month: January 2020

FETC 2020: Stem, Safety, and Students

Student engagement and empowerment were evident at FETC 2020 in Miami, FL. Topics ran the gamut from the latest tech tools and personalized learning strategies to funding, supporting, and sustaining district technology initiatives.

FETC 2020 offered sessions and workshops, interactive spaces, an extensive expo hall, and purposefully-chosen dynamic, energizing, and inspiring keynote presentations. More than 20,000 attendees from around the world experienced unlimited opportunities to network, learn effective teaching strategies, share resources, and be inspired. Even though the Miami sunshine was enticing, attendees moved excitedly from session to session, eager to soak up all that the conference had to offer.


In the early years of STEM and STEAM adoption, students’ hands-on experiences were limited to isolated classroom activities and computer labs. This stand-alone model did not engage the entire school community, nor was it transferrable to content areas instruction.

With sessions at FETC 2020 such as “Coding, Robotics, Project-Based Learning and Mathematics” and “Cross-Curricular STEAM Integration for Every Classroom,” attendees learned how innovative educators are integrating STEM STEAM projects to connect students to real-world situations.

In the Expo Hall, companies such as Ozobot created “classrooms of today” to demonstrate how empowering teachers with a strong curriculum and products designed to engage students can help them incorporate coding and STEAM into social studies, ELA, math, and science courses. Even more inspiring was the STEM Theater, where throughout the conference, K-12 schools recognized as FETC STEM Excellence Award finalists showcased innovation, commitment, and visionary paths for their students.

Social and emotional learning

Empathy, self-regulation, responsibility, and relationship-building skills are human skills that are critical to the development of digital citizens. It can be challenging for education leaders to measure SEL programming’s success and impact on their students.

Edtech professionals at FETC were on hand to discuss how they’ve developed programming, strategies, and personalized options to allow classroom teachers, support staff, and building administrators to do just that.

Ed Tech Library Media Specialist and Future of Ed Tech Educator tracks highlighted sessions such as “Social and Emotional Learning in the Library” and “Social-Emotional Skill Building Through Coding and Robotics” that demonstrated how project-based learning increases student engagement and reduces behavioral management issues.

Software companies such as Everyday Speech were resources for school-based professionals and educators to use tools such as video, modeling, worksheets, and games to help students with social learning challenges. With new SEL content, Brainpop offered multiple sessions at FETC to incorporate social and emotional learning skills through modeling and classroom strategies.

Student safety

Student safety and student data privacy were on every CTO, IT professional, and district administrator at FETC 2020. Sessions including “What Every District Leader Needs to Know about Cyber Security” and “Cyber Security Measures and Assessments,” highlighted critical strategies that every district should implement to combat cyber-attacks. The “How to Find Technology That Improves School Safety” panel focused on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to safety solutions.

Software companies such as Impero, Securly, Gaggle, GoGuardian, Mimecast, and Managed Methods offered district tech leaders optimal student safety options ranging from protecting student data to protect students from self-harm, inappropriate content, and potential violence.


With the advent of esports in schools across the country, FETC offered conference attendees a not-to-be-missed interactive experience. Encompassing a significant space in the Expo Hall, the Esports Gaming Arena, and the North America Scholastic Esports Federation staged an esports environment easily replicated in any school setting. Middle and high school age students invited attendees to experience and learn about how this program positively supports, impacts, and engage a population of students eager for this educational environment.

Underlining all the sessions, workshops, keynotes, sandboxes, and learning spaces at FETC 2020 was the commitment of every edtech company, classroom educator, IT professional, district leader, and CTO to ensure that students have the tools and skills to own their learning and to grow and develop into the curators of our future.

FETC will be back in Orlando, January 26-29, 2021, for its 41st year.

Source: eSchoolNews

Bridging the Gap Between Science and Coding

Students exposed to coding and programming at an early age are well equipped to take on higher-level computer science courses in high school—and they also build essential skills for future opportunities in the technology world.

When Rob van Nood was hired as the educational technology specialist for Catlin Gabel School in Oregon, coding and computer science courses were only offered in grades 9-12, and not to students in the younger grades.

This lack of coding education in earlier grades left a significant teaching gap in 21st century skills such as problem solving, designing, and computational thinking.

In a recent edWebinar, van Nood explained that it is his mission to mentor and facilitate computer science learning in a manner that integrates coding in every aspect of his students’ education.

Engaging students with coding and computer science must extend past the walls of the computer science lab.

Hence, while it is great to see students on the ground, learning from coding tutorials and programming robots, students must be able to make a connection between coding and the physical world.

“I didn’t feel great that I spent all this time building these relationships with kids and getting them to understand a little bit about coding. Then, after those days, they didn’t have any other use for the technology or use for coding outside of robotics that they might do at a camp,” said van Nood.

Integrating coding and programming into K-8 core curricula takes a special relationship and commitment between classroom teachers and instructional technology specialists.

When applied properly, coding and programming can have a positive impact on core curricula. van Nood sees not only more engagement of students but examples of problem-solving skills like conditional thinking and trial and error that are enriching classroom instructions.

Middle school science projects such as the environmental aspects of sustainability and the Copernican Revolution are great opportunities for students to use products such as mBots and SAM Lab tools to apply to their learning. The familiar Goldilocks story becomes a project when students are the designers and prototype builders of the perfect “tea” temperature using tools such as SAM Labs, Microbits, Vernier probes, and LEGOs.

Science courses are not the only way to connect students to coding. Middle school social studies curricula on Feudal Asia/Medieval Europe and the Hillary Steps are perfect avenues for incorporating STEM tools. When students develop, analyze, and interpret data and artifacts, they are challenged to explain their thoughts in writing as well as show their ideas in strong metaphorically visual models.

van Nood emphasizes that students need to be creators of their learning. It is critical to establish best practices for engaging students with data collection technology.

Recognizing that girls are excellent coders, both curriculum leaders and classroom teachers must develop inclusion strategies to overcome the prevalent gender stereotypes of coding and robotics.

Originally Published: eSchoolNews

Here’s Why You Should Attend FETC 2020

Celebrating any anniversary is exciting, but this year, educators, administrators, and support staff can all celebrate the 40th anniversary of FETC- Future of Education Technology Conference in Miami, FL.

For those of you who have attended this conference in previous years, the Miami Beach Convention Center is a new venue jam-packed with “game-changing” keynotes, workshops, concurrent sessions, learning labs, and so much more.

FETC will not disappoint with its focus on innovation, creativity, collaboration, and personalized learning strategies for our students.

For anyone who has attended any large edtech conference, maximizing the conference experience can be overwhelming. FETC listened to its attendees and created session and workshop tracks based on the always-evolving edtech roles in schools and districts. Much like a breakfast buffet at one of the many hotels on Miami Beach, attendees at FETC 2020 pick and choose sessions and tracks that appeal to classroom and district interests, issues, and concerns.

The Future of Ed Tech Educator and the Future of Ed Tech Administrator tracks showcase best practices around innovation in the classroom and the work done in districts that support educators and students.

Attending sessions and workshops listed under the Ed Tech Educator track, attendees will learn from featured presenters such as Rachell Dene Poth, Ken Shelton, and Eric Curts. A plethora of topics in this track includes emerging technology trends, taking Google to the next level, AI in classrooms, STEAM/STEM projects and strategies, and tools to support struggling readers and English Language Learners.

Following the Ed Tech Administrator track, school and district administrators will learn from featured speakers such as Dr. Matthew Joseph, Dr. Michell Zimmerman, and Marlena Gross-Taylor about hacking leadership and edtech tools administrators, cybersecurity, and digital equity for all our students.

CIOs, technology directors, and other technology professionals will find sessions and workshops under the Future of Ed Tech Information Technology tracks tailored to the unique and daunting responsibilities that go along with creating dynamic learning environments for students and teachers. Featured presenters, including Marlo Gaddis, Dr. Sheryl Abshire, and Lorrie Owens, will demonstrate how transformational leadership addresses digital equity, data privacy, and funding. Educating the whole child includes the academic side and the social-emotional well-being of our students, including students with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities.

The Future of EdTech Inclusion and Special Education track supports the work being done in classrooms every day by special education professionals and support staff. Attendees will learn from experts in special education with featured presenters such as Carol Allen, Kindy Segovia, Nikosi Darnel, and Patrick Turnage. Offering over 35 sessions, presenters will focus on strategies for struggling readers, accessibility, and inclusiveness in classrooms and coding and gaming technologies to engage students with learning disabilities.

Two new tracks, Future of Ed Tech Library Media Specialist and Future of Ed Tech Coaches, spotlight the roles of irreplaceable ed-tech professionals in school districts.

Ed Tech Library Media Specialists will hear from featured presenters such as Shannon Miller, Jaime Donnally, and Dr, Adam Phyall and many other experts in the field. Energizing AI, SEL, social media, and maker spaces will support collaboration, creativity, engagement, and personalization in library media spaces across the country.

The boots on the ground edtech coaches will benefit from the Future of Ed Tech Coaches track with presentations from experienced professionals, including Casey Bell, Matt Miller, and Brianna Hodges. Essential topics for edtech coaches such as differentiation in classrooms, strategies, and resources for supporting struggling learners and skills and technologies to help all students focus on workshops and sessions in this track.

So, head to Florida on January 14 – 17, 2020, bask in the southeast coast sunshine, hit the expo floor, and overload your buffet plate with enticing, interesting, and thought-provoking FETC 2020 sessions and workshops.

Source: eSchoolNews

FETC 2020: A Focus on Stem and Underrepresented Students

FETC recognizes the challenges and roadblocks school districts and educators face when providing equitable access to STEM education for all students.

According to the National Science Foundation, students need in-depth, high-quality educational STEM experiences to succeed in the “information-based and highly technological society.” Across the country, districts recognize STEM education as a priority and implement programming that provides K12 students with hands-on, project-based STEM lessons. Based on a 2018 report, STEM education is not an equitable experience for all school districts or all students. In the case of the haves and have nots, school districts in low-income areas with limited funding resources struggle to provide students with access to computer science classes, comprehensive STEM programs, and adequately equipped science labs. Even more disturbing is that underrepresented students, such as girls, students of color, students with learning disabilities, and students in low socioeconomic backgrounds, are not regularly presented with learning opportunities that would expose them to challenging STEM. 

FETC (Future of Educational Technology Conference) recognizes the challenges and roadblocks school districts and educators face when trying to provide equitable access to STEM education for all students. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in Miami, Florida, on January 14- 17, 2020, FETC once again will prove itself as one of the top edtech conferences to attend this year. With a wealth of STEM sessions, workshops, learning labs, and school tours, attendees will experience proven strategies and solutions to combat the growing numbers of students with little or no exposure to STEM projects.

STEM Keynote

No one is more in tune with the urgency of ensuring that all students, especially those in the underrepresented categories, have an abundance of STEM educational opportunities than Justin Shaifer. Shaifer, aka Mr. Fascinate, is the founder and executive director of Fascinate, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides culturally responsive lesson plans and experiences to students across the US. During FETC 2020, this high energy 24-year-old will engage attendees with his STEM Keynote presentation, “Bring STEM to Class: A Practical Guide to Education.” Shaifer’s goal “to be for STEM what ESPN is for sports” and to inspire young people to “embrace their inner nerd despite their surroundings.”

STEM Sessions

Echoing Shaifer’s mission to bring STEM education to every classroom and every student are the courageous, committed, and visionary edtech leaders, educators, and support staff presenting at FETC 2020. Within the six edtech strands that have become synonymous with FETC, numerous sessions focus on innovative practices and solutions to ensure students are positioned well for the yet to be created STEM positions available when they graduate. 

Sessions such as Coding in K-8 Classrooms: Empowering Creativity and Content CreationCross-Curricular STEAM Integration for Every Classroom, and Collaborating Across Curriculums Using Digital Tools and Maker Space highlight the importance of ensuring that makerspaces are not the only place students learn science, technology, engineering, and real-world math applications.

These sessions reflect the belief that coding exposes more students to STEM education when integrated across curriculum areas, resulting in students who are more engaged, energized, and active participants in their learning. 

Educators recognize but don’t always have the skillset to connect and engage underrepresented students in STEM areas. Encouraging Underrepresented Populations to Engage and Stay in STEMEngaging Students in 21st Century Skills Through an Engineering Mindset and Hero Elementary: Designing Accessible Digital Experiences to Promote STEM Equity sessions showcase how classroom teachers can champion inclusion by connecting students to content-rich STEM experiences while supporting their needs and learning struggles. 

When school districts have the necessary funding and educators have the tools, skills, and resources to provide students with multiple opportunities to have hands-on STEM learning opportunities, the playing field becomes leveled for underrepresented students. Attending FETC 2020 is an opportunity for edtech leaders and educators to learn about the struggles of underrepresented students, interact with colleagues on common issues and leave with strategies and solutions to the barriers many of our students experience in STEM education. 

Source: FETC 2020: A Focus on STEM and Underrepresented Students Tech & Learning January 2020

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