By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education
Catherine Cook School just hosted the first annual IDEA:TE (Innovation, Design, Engineering and Art: Transforming Education) conference June 23-26. The School’s Director of Innovation, JD Pirtle, talks about best practices for encouraging teachers to integrate technology into everyday classroom practices.
Please explain the purpose and some of the highlights of the IDEA:TE conference.
JD Pirtle, Director of Innovation, Catherine Cook School
The impetus behind the IDEA:TE Conference came after having dozens of conversations with educators at many other schools here in Chicago, and with educators nationwide. Many of these teachers, librarians, technology coordinators, and administrators had been tapped by their heads of school to create and staff “Maker” labs or innovation hubs. Not only did these educators lack the expertise necessary to run and maintain the many machines and opportunities that an innovation lab necessarily includes, they were struggling with creating engaging and effective curriculum utilizing emerging and traditional technology. In response to this, I initiated the IDEA:TE conference to provide hands-on workshops led by experts in a variety of disciplines, such as 3D printing, computer programming, and textile arts, who come from teaching backgrounds ranging from elementary schools to graduate school.
It was enthralling to see such a diverse group of educators learning together. Rather than sitting through days packed with lectures, attendees were actively involved. From making interactive, laser-cut Arduino powered tea-lights to hand-sewn laptop cases, these educators had intense, hands-on experiences that are replicable in their own classrooms.
Attendees at IDEA:TE create hand-sewn laptop cases in the textile arts workshop.
- Workshop presenter and Catherine Cook 1st grade teacher Kate Herron demos ScratchJr for an IDEA:TE attendee.
A 3D printed ring designed by an IDEA:TE attendee.
From recording and editing music and audio, to sewing wearable technologies, and even creating furniture using laser cutters and 3D printers, Catherine Cook School integrates a diverse set of technologies. Can you share some best practices from different classrooms?
In our innovative work with students and faculty, we engage almost exclusively in project-based learning. There is no “tech time” or pulling students out of the classroom for tech class. Each aspect of Catherine Cook’s IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Art) program, which begins in preschool, is woven into the curriculum and is cross-disciplinary. Continue reading
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