Smells Like STEAM Spirit: EdSurge Summit Goes to Seattle

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Educators in Seattle are gearing up for Edtech Nirvana: an entire day of exploring edtech tools at our Tech for Schools Summit on October 24-25!

Seattle area educators enjoy no-nonsense, unconference-model forms of learning and professional development. Just ask the 500 edtech enthusiasts who make up Steve Siden and Lindsey Own’s Seattle Edtech Meetup group, or the teachers who pack Seattle’s Edcamps. They, along with educators from districts around the Seattle region, have been sharing their excitement about the upcoming Seattle EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit.

“As a classroom teacher, I am often overwhelmed by the edtech product options available for incorporating new tech-based learning opportunities for my students,” shares Own, Evergreen School science teacher and Seattle EdTech Meetup co-organizer. “An event like the Seattle Tech for Schools Summit gives me an opportunity to explore a few pre-curated products in depth and a chance to work more closely with product teams.”

Many districts in the region are moving towards blended learning environments and have secured grant or local funding to reach their goals. One of only two applicants to receive the maximum $40 million Race to the Top grant ($5 million alone is allocated for digital STEM tools with additional funds for early childhood and college readiness), the “Road Map Consortium” includes the Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila school districts. The Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD), which manages this grant, also secured additional Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funding to pilot blended learning models in a number of these same school districts. In addition, thirteen districts ran technology levy elections this past spring that all passed.

PSESD, which supports nearly 400,000 students across 35 school districts, also convenes Superintendents Advocating for and Valuing Education (SAVE), an active group of regional superintendents focused on improving student outcomes. Another PSESD group, the Puget Sound Coalition for College and Career Readiness, has also been working since 2010 to create a more seamless transition for students moving from high school to college.

EdSurge’s two partner districts, Kent School District and Highline Public Schools, are lining up educator judges who will select a collection of tools that support these and other initiatives. “We are passionate about equitable instruction and the power that digital tools have in that critical endeavor,” observes Ellen Dorr, learning technology manager at Highline Public Schools, “so we’re excited about co-hosting the Seattle EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit. We want to hear what’s being developed, what's out there, and we want to give our feedback about what works in classrooms and what practitioners need.”

“EdSurge coming to Seattle will act as the bridge between innovative teachers and conscientious technology professionals,” says Rachel Klein, director of student achievement at Highline. “As someone who has worked in both fields, I often feel there’s not enough opportunity for technology folks to really hear what it’s like for users on a day-to-day basis.” She continues: “Traditional structures of ‘requirements-gathering’ focus groups and listening sessions are fine but generally do not go far enough.” She further believes that “new, high-impact tools will emerge from this event that will really push student achievement forward.”

Highline Public Schools is particularly interested in tools that address the following:

  • personalized learning
  • student creation tools
  • formative assessments
  • changing teacher role to that of facilitator
  • content and tools for STEM, literacy, math, coding, and modern languages
  • acceleration of student achievement
  • project-based learning
  • lesson planning tools
  • standards-based instruction
  • classroom apps and tools teachers can implement easily
  • curriculum and assessments aligned to Smarter Balanced
  • 1:1 implementation
  • PD tools
  • teacher dashboards/data management

Middle and high school tools that support personalization and differentiation are especially appealing to Highline.

Similarly, Kent School District teachers and administrators are hoping to find tools that support their initiatives at the Seattle EdSurge Summit:

  • librarian technology integration
  • elementary 1:1 initiative--particularly adaptive digital tools
  • high school credit recovery
  • single sign-on solutions
  • LMS systems with LTI tools and LDAP
  • system-wide shift toward e-book adoption, with an initial focus on science, social studies and ELA resources

If you are a company with tools that support either Kent or Highline’s initiatives, they would love to see you at the Seattle EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit on October 25. Company applications are due this Friday, August 29. Apply here!

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