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Local Educators Showcase their Tech Prowess at LHRIC’s Tech Expo

It was a packed house April 7 at the LHRIC’s Tech Expo 2017, with local educators sharing their knowledge of the latest tech tools and concepts in a variety of different breakout sessions and other participants taking the opportunity to network with peers and to meet some of the nation’s leading technology companies and sponsors of the daylong event.

In his keynote presentation titled, “20Time Project for Future-Ready Students,” Kevin Brookhouser talked about the need to provide students with problem-solving opportunities based on Google’s 20 Percent Project, an initiative that allows its employees to spend 20 percent of their time on pet projects.

While being focused in itself is a good thing, Mr. Brookhouser said, the urge to constantly be focused can have its drawbacks.

“It can get so acute that we fail to recognize the opportunities around us,” he told the packed auditorium at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor.

By contrast, Mr. Brookhouser, who teaches digital citizenship and computer science at the York School in Monterey, Calif., explained that students should engage themselves in activities that allow the mind to think in more creative ways.

Three elements that can drive innovative problem solving include giving students “radical autonomy” in the form of 20 Percent projects, providing them with the opportunity to do work that has value outside of the classroom walls, as well as honing mastery.

Local teachers in our region are already using these same principles to hone creativity and innovation among their students.

During a morning breakout session titled, “Drones, Virtual Realities and Robots….Welcome to Genius Hour in the Classroom,” Jody Kennedy of White Plains Middle School explained how students in her class are solving problems using drones, robots and other resources.

“I don’t care if I don’t know,” said Ms. Kennedy, referring to the emerging belief that teachers shouldn’t be the only experts in the classroom. “I can’t possibly know all the answers. We are all learning together.”

In another breakout session, educators from the Pelham School District recalled their Makerspace journey during the first year of implementation, adding that it was not only a year of discovery but also a chance to get into the “whole maker mindset,” said one teacher who presented.

“The key for teachers is to let go and explore,” added Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel Dr. Steven Garcia.

Other breakout sessions focused on balancing and blending traditional learning in the modern day classroom, finding the truth when all news is “fake,” the benefits of establishing a student help desk that can help faculty, classmates and younger students with technology issues, teaching students how to use infographics, using robots for learning, teaching students how to create their own LinkedIn pages, video sharing using live streaming and/or screen casting, and much, much more.

The Expo also included a special showing of “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age,” an award-winning film that details the struggles that families experience with their children’s growing addiction to social media and the Internet, offering up solutions on how to empower children to best navigate the digital world.