Dare County Schools Technology staff hosted a district technology institute at First Flight High School on June 19 and 20. The name of the conference, Dare to Share, was taken from the district's online resources under daretolearn.org. The 2-day workshop series - see d2s.daretolearn.org - was kicked off by keynote speaker Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, as introduced by Director of Secondary Instruction, Nancy Griffin. Nussbaum-Beach is a nationally known presenter and author of The Connected Educator. The institute was funded through the district’s Race to the Top funds, as well as by sponsors including CFI - Create the Future Initiative, Turning Technologies, Proven Learning, APEX Learning, Study Island, The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, and paid vendors Discovery Education and Haiku Learning Systems. The workshops were conducted by sponsor representatives, school technology coordinators, and several of the district's tech-savviest teachers. There were also presenters from the professional learning network cultivated over recent years that included a Skype session.
Conference attendance was open and free of charge for all teachers and teacher assistants. At the end of each day, tech-related door prizes provided by the sponsors were awarded by random drawing to several participants.
Feedback for the opportunity was overwhelmingly positive. Even though teachers take advantage of school-based tech training throughout the year, the opportunity to immerse themselves in selected applications and topics, as well as collaborate among and across disciplines was more than appreciated. To have relevant, self-selected workshops - right at home without having to travel - was a plus. That the institute was offered at the beginning of summer was another positive - the timing enables teachers to spend time becoming familiar with, plan, and then to apply what they learned in June - in their classrooms with students when everyone returns for the new school year.
"The tech facilitators pulled off a truly phenomenal feat preparing for this institute and getting ready to close out school at the same time," noted Griffin. "By all accounts, the conference received rave reviews. Participants across all grades are excited about the possibilities of integrating new and existing technology resources into new lessons designed to teach new and more rigorous curriculum standards beginning next fall."