In North Caldwell, Teachers Learn New Ideas in Educational Tech at WETECH 2013
Photo: West Essex Middle School Teacher Natalie Franzi answers questions from West Essex Special Education Teacher Gabriel Bauer and West Essex Middle School Choral Director and Music Teacher Donna Mateyka during Franzi’s workshop on “Aligning Smart Notebook Activities with the Common Core,” at WE-Tech. Photo Credit: Alison Freeman
West Essex Middle School Teacher Natalie Franzi answers questions from West Essex Special Education Teacher Gabriel Bauer and West Essex Middle School Choral Director and Music Teacher Donna Mateyka during Franzi’s workshop on “Aligning Smart Notebook Activities with the Common Core,” at WE-Tech. | Alison Freeman

More than 145 educators, administrators and members of the public found their way to North Caldwell March 2, 2013, for the second annual West Essex Technology Symposium or WETECH 2013. They learned the latest in educational technology which many will then bring back to the classroom and share with their students.

Following breakfast and the keynote address by Scott Rocco, Superintendent of the Spotswood School District, participants spent the day attending three different workshops. Some examples of workshops included “Creativity across the cloud—multimedia authoring across devices,” “Social Media for Development and Sharing” and “Using Digital Pens in Schools for Note Taking, Instruction and Document Work-flow.”

Brian Friedlander, a school psychologist with a specialty in assistive technology and assistant professor at the College of St. Elizabeth presented at the conference. In a blog post on his site he discussed his topic: Supporting Students with Executive Function and Learning Disorders.

The presentation focused on the rich array of apps that are now available on the iPad to support students who present with executive function disorders and learning disabilities. “Some of these included: Evernote, Clicker Docs, Read2Go, Voice Dream, Inspiration Maps, iWordQ, Remind101, iThoughts, and Penultimate to name a few.”

Said Friedlander: “It is amazing how the field of assistive technology has been transformed by the iPad and going forward we can only imagine what the future will hold. One of the significant aspects of the iPad is that it can be personalized and customized to meet the needs of students with Executive Function and Learning Disorders.” To see his slide deck visit his blog.

“What is happening in technology today is actually amazing,” said keynoter Rocco to his audience in the West Essex High School Auditorium. “Technology innovations in education must improve student learning and make what we do more efficient and effective.”

The event also featured a student panel discussion on technology. The panel of seven West Essex High School freshman gave their suggestions on how teachers can improve technology in the classroom and answered questions from the audience.

Andrew Rubinich of Fairfield, who hopes to become an English or business teacher, said he would like to see more teachers “utilize devices that students can control for themselves.” He said it would benefit students if more teachers used Edmodo which allows students to submit work online. “I believe Edmodo is one of the best educational resources since it enables students to share their responses and see their peer’s responses to a prompt by a teacher,” he said.

Evan Snerson of North Caldwell said he would also encourage teachers to set up Facebook groups for their classes where students could ask questions or even play some online review games before a test.

WETECH 2013 was also broadcast live on Teachercast.net featuring host Jeffrey Bradbury, the creator of TeacherCast.net and JerseyEducation.com . Bradbury, a N.J. music educator in North Brunswick has become an educational media specialist.

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