Friday, May 13, 2016

Getting Ready for a Tech Fair

A school district’s Technology Fair brings about many emotions for teachers and students.  Anxiousness, excitement, anxiety, and restlessness.  Now understand, that these can be both positive and negative…depending on how you spin it.

We typically hold our Technology Fair at the end of the school year.  Keep in mind that there are so many things going on at the end of the school year, and this issue in itself can cause one to be stressed about participating in the Tech Fair.  There is State Standardized testing, MAP testing, End of Course testing, teacher evaluation final reviews, teacher–administrative conferences, awards programs, District Art Shows, Academic Programs, Junior Scholars, and concerts and athletic banquets…not to mention having to get grades in and notes to the permanent records.

With the newer approach to testing online, computers are imaged, updated and sequestered for much of the testing time, which can last from two to four weeks.  When a school doesn’t have enough computers for all to test in a shorter time frame, or the infrastructure to handle the extreme band width, it is just going to take a longer time. 

That being said, computers may be held in a secure place to insure they are in proper working order for the testing, and kept away from students for a time.  If this time happens to coincide with the request for computers from teachers and student…it becomes stressful; especially if lessons, activities or technology projects are planned.

Well, take heart, there is good news.  Being involved in this process for several years now, I began to tell teachers that their Tech Fair projects, and those of the students should be happening all year long.  When you integrate technology in the classroom from the beginning of the school year, students benefit.  They are more familiar with the keyboard and shortcuts, they become more skilled at using programs and web tools, they become problem solvers and intuitive learners, and their confidence builds. 

I know many teachers, who not only start integrating technology in the first week of a new school year, but they start within the first month or school, talking about the Technology Fair.  They use the rubrics from the Tech Fair as the rubric for their class projects.  They invite the Tech Coaches into their classrooms to work with them and their students early and often.  They save projects all year long, and then as the Tech Fair season gets closer, they bring them out and have students take a look at them again…just tweaking them, and reviewing them enough to be sure they meet all of the criteria of a particular category for the big event. 

For all of the reasons above, some teachers might be hard pressed to participate, or even find that they have to drop out of events.  It is understandable with all that is going on at the end of any given school year.  By the same token, the ones that start planning for their Tech Fair in August and September, that plan with and invite their Tech Coaches into the classrooms, and that use the Tech Fair rubrics in their classrooms all year long, will be the ones that are less stressed, and more excited when it comes time to submit projects for themselves or their students, and even enter multiple projects.  Think about planning with your Tech Coach to integrate technology projects into your lesson plans early and often.  Good luck to all you enter Technology Fairs across the country, and across the world.

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