Third Annual WE Tech Symposium Draws Teachers From Throughout State
Photo: Left to right, West Essex Technology Coordinator Deb Martin, West Essex Superintendent of Schools Barbara Longo, WE Tech Keynote Speaker Joyce Valenza (a professor at Rutgers University), West Essex Spanish Teacher and WE Tech founder Raquel Williams, West Essex Middle School Librarian Catherine Spinella and West Essex High School Librarian Rosemary Rich Photo Credit: Courtesy WETech
Left to right, West Essex Technology Coordinator Deb Martin, West Essex Superintendent of Schools Barbara Longo, WE Tech Keynote Speaker Joyce Valenza (a professor at Rutgers University), West Essex Spanish Teacher and WE Tech founder Raquel Williams, West Essex Middle School Librarian Catherine Spinella and West Essex High School Librarian Rosemary Rich | Courtesy WETech

More than 150 educators learned about educational technology at the third annual WE Tech Symposium, held at West Essex High School on March 1, 2014. NJTechWeekly.com covered past years’ WE Tech conferences here and here.

Keynoting the event was Rutgers University Professor Joyce Valenza, whose talk was entitled “Metaliteracy: An Unintentional Film Festival, or 10 Big Things to Teach and Model in 2014.”

Using clips from movies such as “Spiderman” and “My Cousin Vinny” and TV shows like “The Office,” Valenza made her case for using technology in the classroom. For example, she told the teachers in attendance to encourage their students to set up LinkedIn [P1] profiles. Valenza explained that she no longer uses business cards, opting instead to use sites such as LinkedIn.

Valenza told the educators that college admissions officers who must decide between two applicants with similar profiles will look at the students’ Facebook pages to help them with the decision. In sessions held throughout the day, she spoke about Wikipedia, Twitter and other technology tools.

The educators chose from a variety of workshops offered during three different sessions.

The teachers traveled to the event from throughout New Jersey and received professional development hours for attending. The day was sponsored byEdTechTeacher, ShopRite, Stop & Shop and ADP (Roseland).

The educational sessions included one by Kevin Jarrett, Northfield Community School (Northfield, N.J.) technology educator and Google-certified teacher. An article in the Alternative Press by Carolyne Volpe Curley says Jarrett discussed how schools are transforming traditional elementary-school computer lab programs into inquiry-based experiences for students through a STEM-based curriculum.

Jarrett also led a workshop in Minecraft, the 3-D Web game. According to the Alternative Press article, Jarrett described Minecraft as the “ultimate educational tool” that can engage young children in topics ranging from history to engineering. “During his presentation, Jarrett was assisted by a local eight year old who on her own demonstrated the game in real time,” the article said.

During his session, Jarrett Skyped with a Boston educator who uses Minecraft in the classroom. The game serves as a tool for teaching her elementary school students about the pilgrims and the early history of Plymouth, Massachusetts, the article said.

Jeffrey Bradbury, who created TeacherCast.net[P2]  and TeacherCast University[P3] , led the session “WordPress for Educators.” He told the attendees he wanted to take the fear out of website publishing and reassured them they would not be able to “mess up” WordPress.

According to the Alternative Press article, the session “Augmented Reality in Schools,” taught by Elissa Malespina, a librarian at South Orange Middle School, covered applications such as colAR and Flashcard AR.

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