DCSD teachers embrace technology at conference
By Melissa Rollins, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Saturday morning, around 130 teachers gathered at Darlington Middle School for the Darlington County School District Digital Transformation Conference. In its third year, the conference featured a variety of sessions for teachers from tools for assessment to using Adobe Spark to create interactive projects for students.
Diane Sigmon, Director of Technology for DSCD, said that the district administration was excited to bring the Saturday conference back for its third year.
“I just think it is exciting when teachers give up their Saturday to come do something like this,” Sigmon said. “In the opening session, we showed the ‘Crazy Ones’ video. It has Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, all these people who people tend to look at and think they’re on the crazy side but really and truly they are the ones we look to for changing the world.”
Sigmon said that she and her staff took the ‘Crazy Ones theme and ran with it.
“My staff and I have shirts that say crazy one,” Sigmon said. “We are challenging our teachers to be a crazy one, to think that they can change the world.”
The conference ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with several of the available sessions repeating throughout the day so teachers didn’t have to choose one over another.
“The variety in our sessions is really because of the variety of things that our teachers are doing,” Sigmon said. “These are our teachers leading our teachers and they are doing some phenomenal things. It is not about the technology, it is about how they are using it. It might be a green screen that kids are using to make videos to talk about their learning. It might be another tool that is deliberate at helping children of poverty. That is the exciting thing to me: there is not a single path. Everybody can bring their own skills and talents to it.”
One of the sessions introduced Do Ink, a program used to create fun, educational videos using a green screen. At Darlington Middle, their ‘green screen’ is actually a wall in a classroom painted green. Teacher Jennifer Middaugh told participants that they don’t have to spend a lot of money to be able to use green screen technology. She said that when she uses her technology outside of the classroom she takes a green sheet to use as her background. Blue and other colors can also be used once the program is calibrated to that setting.
DCSD Teacher of the Year LaQuetta Johnson, from Pate Elementary School, said that she can see herself using the Do Ink program as well as others that Middaugh suggested for finding fun backgrounds to use on videos for student projects.
“I already bought the app, so I am just trying to figure out how we can use it for the first time,” Johnson said. “We were studying bats so we may try it next week and see what happens. My principal is really open to use trying new things. If she comes in and we are off schedule she is okay with it because we are trying something new. I already bought a cloth that I’m going to put up in another room. I teach first and second grade so I am going to try it with second grade first just to see how it goes.”
Sigmon said that while she enjoys the weekend conference they have considered doing it during the week so that more teachers can take advantage of it.
“We are hopeful that maybe next year we can do this conference on one of those back to school days, that way we can have something for everyone,” Sigmon said. “I see this as a big shot in the arm for those who are ready to embrace our technology.”