I found the TCDSB AICT Conference to be a very insightful look into how we as teachers can engage our students in the classroom using today's ever changing technological advances. Anyone who attended the conference will no doubt agree that using technology in the classroom will assist our students using an avenue that they are accustomed to. During Ann Perron's opening remarks she mentioned that about 90% of TCDSB students have access to the internet at home. I have to say that I was very surprised by this figure, and imagined that it would be much less. Students are exposed to technology in the home and as a result, school communities need to keep up with this technology not only to engage their students, but to help prepare them to meet the demands of the workforce they will one day occupy. Dr. Tim Tyson's keynote address made it sound rather simple to do this. His practical examples of integrating technology into the classroom were definitely not at all far fetched. All they require is an open-minded teacher who is willing to try something new, and a few IPods or cell phones. It will definitely be interesting to see whether or not this type of teaching is something that will become more prevalent within the TCDSB. I know from my own teaching experience, time is something that I definitely never seem to have enough of. Teaching the vast amount of curriculum would definitely be made easier if teachers could deliver their lessons via podcasts, especially in the senior grades. I am a little skeptical about how this idea would go over in primary classes, but think it is definitely worth exploring further. I know in my own class at the moment I have a number of students who show up late or have been away for extended periods of time. Having my lessons available as a podcast would mean that I could direct my students as well as their parents to my lessons very easily and continue delivering my daily classroom lessons. Instead of repeating important information to those students who missed the lesson I would then free up more time to answer student questions and offer more individual help to those who need it which is what teaching is all about.
I also found the second portion of AICT Conference I attended (Making Meaning of Digital Texts) to be very informative. Heather Mullins did a great job of presenting a wealth of information on the topic in a very short period of time. She really emphasized the importance of teaching our students how to be "digitally literate" and gave a number of useful strategies to use in the classroom in order to assist our students with skill. One activity that I particularly liked and plan to use in my own classroom involves having students put together a computer screen with all the various components (i.e. task bar). Not only does this help students learn to navigate their way around what they say when they use the internet, it assists teachers in deciphering who knows what and guides them as to where their next steps should be. After all, if we want our students to be "digitally literate" we must not assume that they are going to arrive in our classrooms with these skills. We must teach them!