Over one hundred educators from 15 local school districts shared tech tips and Common Core hurdles at the tenth KCPT Education Conference Tuesday.
Although the conference is traditionally dedicated to technology for the classroom, KCPT’s Director of Education Gary Brock chose to focus this year’s theme on Common Core, a set of national, K–12 academic standards for English Language Arts and math that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Brock provides educational media, like video clips, that support classroom curriculum to schools on both sides of the state line.
“I am glad that Common Core will be soon replacing state standards as we have known them,” Brock said. “I have problems with curriculum issues due to the fact that we are on the border of Kansas and Missouri. I have to know both and the State Standards differ in many ways between Kansas and Missouri. Now with Common Core Standards it will make my job easier to help correlate content to our districts.”
Conference sessions featured ways to use technology, like apps, interactive devices, online resources and curriculum, to help educators adjust to and implement Common Core State Standards.
In a morning session, two librarians from Johnson County Libraries shared dozens of links to interactive sites like Docsteach.org, which provides activities for and digital copies of primary documents from the National Archives.
In hopes of correcting what some see as a lack of exposure to nonfiction, students will be required to read more informational texts and learn about primary and source documents beginning in kindergarten.
Rosalind O’Hora, who attended the morning session with Johnson County Libraries, is a kindergarten teacher at Whittier Elementary in the Kansas City Public School District and said that a lot has changed since she began teaching in 1977 at a Montessori school.
“Many, more advanced, concepts are given to Kindergarten [students] than when I first began teaching,” O’Hora said. “How it is presented makes the difference as to how well they can grasp them. My biggest challenge is to address the varied needs of my students and stay current with the pacing that is required within the district.”
Because time management is a constant challenge, O’Hora said a resource like the list of links Johnson County Libraries shared at the conference is very helpful.
“It takes so much time to search for what you can use in the classroom,” O’Hora said. ”Having access [to resources] from other teachers makes that job much easier. I use the internet daily. It helps my students be more engaged. It helps me provide a more diverse learning environment for my students.”
In addition to technology helping educators adjust to Common Core, the national standards will require that students use digital media.
“Common Core includes integrating technology across curriculum and in all subjects,” said April Bullman, who is the Instructional Technology Resource Specialist for Shawnee Mission School District. “In other words, technology is not just a tool for teachers to use as they lecture. Common Core standards will redefine teaching when technology is integrated.”
Bullman, who has attended KCPT’s conference for the past 6 years, said that it always provides an opportunity to connect with other educators in the area and that when it comes to implementing such monumental changes collaborating with other educators is key.
Lindsey Foat is the community content manager and reporter for education at KCPT