The 32-year tradition lives on as once again this year educators from around the State attended the much anticipated ACTEM (Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine) conference earlier this month. The two-day, action-packed conference is planned, coordinated, and administered solely by Maine educators, and features Maine educators and students as presenters. The conference represents and celebrates the robust technology innovation and integration happening in Maine schools, in addition to serving as a place for schools to share strategies and tools including computer science education, coding, 3D printing and design thinking, and to learn about various technology-based curriculum and classroom management tools that are being used in Maine schools, nationally, and globally. The well-planned conference featured close to 150 sessions, the vast majority of which were delivered by Maine educators.
This year’s keynote speaker was Michael Cohen. Also known as The Tech Rabbi, Cohen is a “designer, educator and creativity instigator” who serves as the director of innovation for Yeshiva University of Los Angeles Boys School (YULA). In addition to serving as keynote, Cohen also led a session about exploring apps on the iPad.
On the first day of the conference, which hosted close to 400 people, among the events was a session led by Middle School Students from Sacopee Valley who did a student panel about “Kids Teaching Kids Tech Day”. Session participants had the chance to hear from teachers, Kelly Goodfield, Library Media Specialist and Luanne Mudgett, 7th Grade Math Teacher both from Sacopee Valley Middle School along with a group of 6 of their students who talked about their first annual Kids Teaching Kids Day which featured students presenting to their peers and their teachers about technology related topics they are both knowledgeable and passionate about, including photography, robotics, and coding to name a few examples. Educators in attendance were clearly impressed at the idea, some eager to try something similar at their school. At the end of the session, Maine DOE representatives had the honor of witnessing a group of students from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) approach the student panelists to ask them to do the same presentation in one of their education classes. Beaming with pride, the students were happy to accept the offer and engage future educators in this successful practice of student-led teaching.
Day one of the conference ended with an awards presentation that honored educators for their commitment to quality technology integration in Maine schools. This year’s ACTEM ACHIEVE (ACTEM Commends Highly Innovative Educators that Value Excellence) Award was awarded to Sarah Irish a Technology Integrator at Lewiston Middle School and this year’s John Lunt Friend of Technology award, established as a way to recognize individuals that have made a significant contribution to education and technology in Maine, was awarded to Jim Moulton, a well-known Professional Development Consultant working in many Maine schools over the years.
Day two saw upwards of 700 people attending sessions throughout the day, highlights, among many, included a “Tech Tales in PreK and K” presentation by Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez, Migrant Education Regional Coordinator at Mano en Mano/Hand in Hand and Bonnie Blagojevic Education Consultant at Morningtown Consulting who shared stories of young children using technology in a variety of early learning and community settings as digital storytellers, scientists, engineers and artists. In addition, First Grade Teacher and Co-Technology Liaison Nicole Lesperance and Kindergarten Teacher and Co-Technology Liaison Stacey Augustine, both from from W.G. Mallett School in RSU 9 held an interactive “Tech for All” workshop showcasing ready-to-use materials for the classroom including instructional video tutorials, templates, interactive sorts, worksheets, and other activities using Pages.
Along with the robust variety of break-out sessions were several display booths featuring local, national, and internationally known companies that offer technology products and tools available to schools. Representatives from the Maine DOE were also on-hand both days of the conference to offer the latest information about the Maine Learning Through Technology Initiative (MLTI) and the recently developed Maine’s Computer Science Plan that was drafted by local educators.
As the conference ended, educators left on their way back home with new technology tips, tricks, resources, and ideas to share with students and colleagues in all corners of Maine. Conference planning co-chair and retired teacher Cheryl Oakes, along with planning co-chair Stephanie Cheney from Lincoln Academy and ACTEM Executive Director and retired educator Gary Lanoie took a satisfied sigh of relief as another 9 months of planning for the 32nd annual conference went off without a hitch providing Maine Educators with a place to connect with other educators, to deliver, and to collect quality, meaningful and useful technology tools that impact classroom instruction all over Maine.
“I think its been another successful year,” said Gary in the days following the event. As the host of the largest education technology in the state, he is honored to be part of ACTEM, an organization that is able to host this annual professional development opportunity for Maine educators.
For more information about ACTEM, its conference, awards process, committee members, and membership visit their website at http://www.actem.org.
This article was written by Maine DOE staff member Rachel Paling as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success campaign. If you would like more information about the campaign, contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.