Highlights from the Small School Support Program’s Virtual Conference

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Rethink’s First Virtual Conference Provides Rural Educators a Place to Share Best Practices

Last week, Rethink’s Small School Support Program hosted our first ever virtual conference. The conference explored common challenges associated with introducing technology in small and rural areas, as well as cost-efficient and innovative solutions for ensuring successful technology adoptions. This event also served as an opportunity for educators from small and rural districts to come together for a virtual Professional Learning Community, a key component of Rethink’s Small School Support Program. Below are a few of the highlights of the conference.

A bit about our participants…

Locations Represented: AL, AK, AR, CA, Canada, CO, MD, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OK, SC, South Africa, TN, WV.role

challenge

Memorable participant comments…

What’s the best part of working in a rural district? What do you wish people knew about working in rural schools?

  • “Being in a rural setting, you have more 1:1 with families.”
  • “I get paid to teach…I do sooo much more!”

What challenges do you face in implementing new technology?

  • “One challenge [we have] is web and safety concerns associated with web safety”
  • “Finding the time to not only use the technology in the classroom, but learning it outside of school myself.”

What advice do you have for those who fear technology?                                                  

  • “Have more tech PDs for those who need more support.”
  • “Ask a student for help!”

How do YOU use technology?

  • “We have an assistive technology specialist at the Mountain BOCES who manages for 9 school districts. Equipment includes, but is not limited to computer soft- and hardware designed to “bridge the gap” between the work produced by those with and without disabilities.”
  • “We had a student who was unable to write her name in Kindergarten by January of the school year. I had implemented an iPod pilot in my school in her classroom and through working on an iPod with tracing, the child was able to write her name legibly in 6 weeks!!!”
  • “We are just now implementing this in our school district. Principals and leadership teams collaborate via Google Docs on the meeting agenda. We type our notes, answer questions, share links, etc. We are getting better, but it is baby steps. Our high school is going 1:1 Chrome Books in January.”
  • “We are a Google school, and every kid has an account. I set up home blogs for students and all team members, including the student, can post pictures, videos, and comments.”
  • “I enjoy using tech because it allows you to use a different approach to teaching through fun and real life situations”
  • “I have been able to get others to donate old iPhones and iPods to use with book-share to allow there to be words with the audio. To start the donation process I used a couple of iPads owned I pads to model how this would work. When my colleagues saw how well it worked they saw to value of having a device the students could take home and “read” their text books and reading novels”

Panelist, Cortney Keene, also shared this important resource available in every state: the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs. Many of these programs have great loaner programs for AT.

What’s next for Rethink Small School Support Program?…

Rethink’s Small School Support Program is committed to bringing ongoing access to PLCs to our partner districts. Stay tuned for our upcoming events!

  • Rethink Educator of the Month PLC – Returns January 2016
  • Quarterly Virtual Professional Learning Community – Coming early 2016
  • Annual Virtual Conference – December 2016

To watch the entire conference, click here or view the conference slides below!

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