More than 600 educators from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York gathered in McKees Rocks at Montour Elementary School on Tuesday for a conference on technology education.
“Technology changes every day,” said Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference planner Justin Agilo, who also works in the Montour School District. “But we often teach the same way we’ve taught 20 years ago. So this way is a great way for teachers to get together, to share best practices, learn from each other….to ultimately go into classrooms and help benefit children.”
At TRETC, teachers and administrators shared ideas and strategies for bringing coding, robotics and digital media arts into the classroom. One session explored how the creative building video game Minecraft can teach students problem-solving skills.
Presenter Shelly Bucci, who works to integrate reading education with STEM and arts classes at New Castle School District, said it’s important to expose students to fields like engineering or design early.
"By the time you get to junior high, high school they’ve kind of taken a path," explained Bucci. "We want to expose them to the materials, expose them to different ways of thinking, so when they get to that point, maybe a kid who wouldn’t have gone the way of engineering, they might decide, 'Hey, I liked it so much I’m going to do that.'"
Pennsylvania Department of Education Deputy Secretary Matthew Stem said the state wants to support districts in technology education efforts.
"In order for our students to be prepared for the 21st century they need to be able to operate in STEM as well as traditional content areas," said Stem.
Stem added that knowledge and perspectives shared by educators at the conference will influence his department’s work on the Future Ready PA Index, a tool to evaluate student performance in school districts.