What do comfortable clothes, a computer, a long school break, and professional development have in common? Engaged teachers in the Digital Age. Over this past winter break, several TMI faculty members were able to participate in the annual Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit (Ditch Summit), a nine-day virtual event held every December that brings together some of the brightest minds in education. This year’s Ditch Summit was hosted by Matt Miller, an educator, author, and Google-Certified innovator. He is a leading voice in the field of educational technology and eLearning.
The event brings professional development for teachers right into their own homes…or anywhere they watch online…offering unmatched convenience by not having to travel to a conference. Each day during the summit, a new video was made available for teachers to watch at anytime before the event was over and focused on topics like technology and pedagogy. The presentations are inspiring and give teachers a chance to focus on the second half of the school year, thinking about new ideas they can incorporate in their classrooms, while also earning professional development credits.
“It introduced me to some tools and strategies, as well as to new ways to apply digital tools I was already using, like Google Slides. The summit also enhanced my thinking about technology integration,” said Lucy Adams, English Teacher.
In addition to Matt Miller, this year’s lineup of presenters featured top educational innovators like Kim Strobel presenting “The Science of Happiness” and Michael Matera discussing “How to Make Learning a Game.” Other presentations included:
- “When Tech and Pedagogy Collide” with Tanya Avrith and Holly Clark
- “Brian-Friendly Learning that Works” with Dr. Pooja Agarwal
- “How in the Google Did You Do That?” with Eric Curts
- “How to Learn from a World of Educators” with Sarah Thomas
- “Plan Smarter, Not Harder” with Edu-Protocols with Jon Corippo
- “Chromebook Crash Course: What You NEED” with Matt Miller
- “What Schools Can Learn from Start-Up Culture” with Don Wettrick
“I was able to learn both new strategies for next year and some that I was able to implement with my students upon our return from break,” said Kate Faulk, Science Teacher. “In my Anatomy and Physiology classes, we have been practicing brain-friendly learning. We have studied about the retrieval practice of studying and have used braindumps and sketch notes to enhance what we are learning. A brain dump is an exercise in which you watch a video or read a passage, then immediately write down everything you remember. In physical science, we have added more game elements to help students make connections and take ownership of their learning. With our next unit we will also be working with Google Classroom.”
As technology continues to enhance and integrate deeper into our everyday lives, it is becoming more critical to bring it into the classrooms. “If we’re going to meet our students where they are and help prepare them for the world they’ll live in as adults, we cannot ignore technology,” said Ms. Adams. “They will depend on it, whether or not we teach them how to use it effectively to learn. I am committed to helping my students learn when and how to use technological tools with purpose, and if I’m going to do that well, I have to practice it myself.”
The Ditch Summit was a valuable opportunity for our faculty to gain greater knowledge in the digital realm and learn how they can effectively use technology to guide and teach our students. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for professional learning,” said Jill Cross, Dean of Curriculum and Instruction. One of the unique advantages of a digital conference like the Ditch Summit, she explained, is that “Not only were our faculty learning about new and different ways to leverage technology tools, they were also connecting with educators from around the world, all of whom share a common goal of creating more authentic learning experiences for their students.”
With the implementation of the Bring Your Own Device program next school year and growing use of technology-based instructional tools, TMI is committed to helping our students navigate an increasingly digital world and strives to promote diverse professional growth opportunities for our faculty. Encouraging both students and teachers to be lifelong learners, the Ditch Summit represents just the beginning of many more digital and traditional professional development opportunities for our faculty to keep them at the top of their fields and bringing the best in education to our students.