Written by Ricki Stein
Quakertown Community School District Community Relations Coordinator
As lifelong learners, teachers can share plenty of resources and strategies they utilize in their classrooms. Before they head back to school to share with students for the 2013-14 year, nearly 300 teachers and administrators met to share with each other at the Bucks-Lehigh EduSummit, held Aug. 13 and 14 at Southern Lehigh High School.
After Quakertown hosted the first EduSummit with partner Palisades last summer, the EduSummit grew to include Project Red partners, Salisbury and Southern Lehigh this school year. The four districts invited educators from all over the region, including Bucks, Berks, Lehigh and Northampton county school districts, as well as the Carbon Lehigh and Colonial Intermediate Units.
Participants arrived with every conceivable technology device, including laptops, cellphones, iPads and tablets, from as far East as Jersey City, and as far West as Pottsville and Hershey.
In addition to keynote speakers from Discovery Education and Hewlett Packard, volunteer teachers and administrators taught 75 hour-long sessions over the two days. The wide variety of topics included using social media and legal considerations of it in the classroom; iTunesU; Envision Math; Digital Data Collection for Special Education; Streamlining with Evernote; Blackboard; Google Tools; Common Core in the Content Area; Flipped Classrooms; Professional Profiles with LinkedIn and Facebook; Project Based Learning; Screencasting; iPads in the classroom; Discovery; iMovies; and Edmodo; and free education resources.
“The vision of the EduSummit was to provide a grassroots un-conference that breaks down traditional school district boundaries of professional development. Too often, districts go at it alone, and one goal of the EduSummit was for districts to collaborate, share resources, and network; all in an effort to become more effective for our kids,” said Tom Murray, Director of Technology and Cyber Education for Quakertown, and one of the founders of the first EduSummit.Presenter Joyce Parsons, a Southern Lehigh graduate, works for the American Councils for International Education, supported by the U.S. State Department. She shared resources to help teachers add global education to their classroom content, emphasizing the fact that technology has made the world a smaller place. Participants Skyped with Hanan Gawdat, in Egypt. She taught Arabic at Southern Lehigh High School last year. She cried when she saw two SLHS teachers in the session.
Some participants planned to stop in for a few sessions and leave, but were enticed to stay for the whole day because presenters offered so much useful information that teachers can use in their classrooms this year. As keynote speaker Hall Davidson of Discovery Education noted, students come to school as digital natives, using omnipresent technology every day. Teachers need to capture students’ attention and imaginations with technology in the classroom.
“It’s important for students to get to know the people and their culture before they learn the language,” Hanan said. “We get to know each other’s similarities when American students can connect with students in Egypt.”During the second day keynote speech, Mike Belcher, HP Education Strategist, showed the audience some technology tools they can expect to see in the next five years. These included touch screen computers that doubled as student desk tops – as in, traditional student desks. He cautioned that when used properly, technology engages students and can serve relevant content.
“The Bucks-Lehigh EduSummit provided an outstanding opportunity for educators to learn, share and collaborate,” said Michael Roth, Salisbury Superintendent. “As we continue to prepare our return to classrooms, schools and districts, the tools shared and the connections developed at the EduSummit have given us all a boost to focus on the great things we can accomplish for and with our students.”