CONYERS -- Some Rockdale County Public School teachers became students during their winter break last week.
About 135 teachers and school staff members from RCPS and 35 educators from other school systems as far away as Savannah met at Conyers Middle School for two days last week for the first RCPS/eInstruction EdTech Conference, which allowed RCPS to showcase its 21st century classroom technologies. The eInstruction company provides equipment and software to middle and high schools in Rockdale County.
"The whole goal is for teachers to learn how to use all of the equipment in their classrooms and be confident in what they are doing," said Grover Dailey, director of technology.
Already, all schools in the RCPS system are equipped with 21st century technologies like handheld voting machines, electronic pads, projectors and other equipment, thanks to Title I funding, technology funds and SPLOST revenues. Some school districts outside of Rockdale have some of these technologies, but some educators are looking at what equipment they could have at their schools to help their students enhance their academic skills.
Dailey said RCPS technology specialists have trained teachers to know at least the basic capabilities of the new equipment, but the conference training will help expand their knowledge of the equipment and what they can do with it.
"(The conference) allowed me to put everything together," said Sabrina Dorsey, a sixth-grade teacher at Davis Middle School. "Now I know that the whole classroom is the work space."
After hearing from an inspiring keynote speaker Monday, RCPS technology specialists and eInstruction representatives spent most of two days last week demonstrating to the teachers various uses of voting machines and interactive pads and also spoke to them about such topics as making data collection fun, using their workspaces and integrating standards into the classroom.
"The kids already know about technology through playing with video games and on the computer, so I'm actually catching up to them," Dorsey said. "It inspires me. I'm excited, and I know they are, too, because it's fast-paced, so that's what you get in the classroom now instead of quietness."
Dailey said he'd like to hold more technology conferences in the future, if it's affordable. This year's conference was funded through sponsoring companies that showcased their offerings at the conference and a registration fee from educators outside of RCPS. Rockdale teachers did not pay to attend the conference, but they did earn staff development hours for their volunteer participation.