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The top 10 teaching takeaways from TCEA

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What's your favorite experience or memory from TCEA 2017?
Between the content-rich, crowded sessions and keynotes and the live music and nightlife on Austin’s 6th Street, TCEA has a little something for every educator.

This year’s conference focused on innovative learning that can transform the future for students and educators, and with sessions on technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, the show didn’t disappoint.

We’re sharing our favorite TCEA sessions here, with a few from past TCEAs thrown in for nostalgia’s sake. Let us know your favorite memory from this year’s show by leaving a comment below.

1. 20 lessons that incorporate the 4Cs
By now, the 4Cs–communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity–are part of most educators’ vocabulary. But it isn’t always easy to put these concepts into practice, especially when the 4Cs can look vary depending on students’ age and ability. At TCEA 2017, Donna Lusby, the K-6 instructional technology coordinator in the Lovejoy ISD shared how her district moved from what she characterized as “hesitant technology integration” to teachers embracing the 4Cs in their lessons.

2. This is what Google Expeditions can do in a classroom
Virtual reality is one of the latest tools to hit education, and educators across the country are excited to engage students with dynamic, immersive visuals and virtual field trips. But getting started can be overwhelming, especially with different platforms and devices on the market. During a virtual reality session at TCEA 2017, three educators shared their experience using Google Expeditions with students.

3. If you give a kindergartner a Chromebook…
Although even the youngest children are considered tech-savvy today, there exists a difference between a child who knows how to use a tablet to watch videos and a child who knows how to navigate a device for active learning. The thought of giving 30 kindergarten students their own Chromebooks might be daunting. But for one classroom, the move yielded some surprising results for student engagement, learning progress, and for students with special needs.

4. 8 tips to help create and sustain a makerspace
Though makerspaces are becoming more mainstream, creating and maintaining one could overwhelm educators who are starting from scratch. Aside from the technology tools and other resources that make up the space, it’s wise to have a plan in terms of when students will use the space, how it will be shared, where funding will come from, and how students will demonstrate what they are learning.

5. 15 tools and apps real educators actually use
Some of the best things about an ed-tech conference are the sessions, where attendees learn about new tools and resources, trends, and teaching strategies. But you can’t make it to every session, and sometimes it’s hard to choose when each session is compelling and relevant to your educational needs.

6. Use these strategies to incorporate drones in STEAM education
Drones are often the subject of controversy, especially when it comes to debates around security and privacy. But do they have a place in education? One team of educators thinks so. Though the word “drone” tends to have a negative connotation, drones have tremendous potential to help students learn science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) concepts.

7. 12 augmented reality apps students can use today
Augmented reality–a technology that uses a trigger image to superimpose digital content over a user’s view of the real world–is growing in popularity and accessibility, and it holds a wealth of potential for education. Often described as “QR codes on steroids,” the technology offers new and exciting ways for students to interact with lessons, said Jeff Peterson, an instructional technologist in the Lamar Consolidated ISD in Texas. Peterson presented a TCEA 2017 session on augmented reality’s application in classrooms.

Blast from the past:

8. TCEA: Do your libraries need a change?
Seeking to ensure school librarians’ roles reflect the changing nature of education, one Texas school district changed its librarians’ positions to better support digital learning. Library and IT specialists in the Willis Independent School District knew they needed to transform school librarians into vital educational leaders who instruct and engage students with innovative resources and opportunities, and who are actively involved in helping students learn about and evaluate digital resources and information.

9. Tips for using Pinterest in the classroom
Many aspiring crafters and cooking fanatics are familiar with Pinterest, a social media site set up like a virtual bulletin board in which users “pin” favorite home décor, cooking, and craft ideas. But now education is hopping on the Pinterest bandwagon, as teachers and administrators are quickly discovering that the site is replete with resources for students of all ages and abilities.

10. How I turned my classroom into a ‘living video game’—and saw achievement soar
The notion that struggling and failing is important to learning runs counter to traditional approaches to U.S. education. In fact, failure and its accompanying “F” grade stigmatizes a student as unprepared or “challenged” and is usually seen as a predictor of failure in future grades.


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