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Blended Learning Conference draws hundreds of teachers

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Classes don’t start for another few weeks, but that didn’t stop hundreds of EPISD teachers from filing into classrooms at Chapin High Thursday for the one-day Blended Learning Conference.


The conference, which was organized by the Instructional Technology department, kicked off with keynote speaker Caitlin Tucker, teacher and author of “Blending Technology and Tradition to Transform Learning.”


Tucker spoke to the teachers about embracing blended learning and using technology as a gateway for student learning.


“My focus is on active, engaged learning in the classroom combined with active, engaged learning online,” Tucker said. “Blended learning opens the door for the best hallmarks for teaching and learning. There are things I am able to do with my students now that I was never able to do pre-technology.”


Franklin teacher Heather Kendrick walked away from the keynote feeling inspired.


“The speech was great and gave me ideas of things to include in my classroom,” Kendrick said. “I teach some of the upper level Spanish classes, and I would love for them to do some TED Talks in my class.”


Kendrick already has integrated online discussions and surveys in her classroom to give students another outlet to talk about and review what they are doing in class.


“In class, there’s usually two or three students that comment in class discussions, but online I notice the class, as a whole, comments more,” Kendrick said.


After the keynote, teachers broke out into breakout sessions, such as iMovie Book Trailers and Hands-on Nearpod, focusing on blended learning and active learning tools and strategies. To help promote blended learning, the conference also included sessions on Schoology, the district’s new learning management system.


“We want to focus attention on blended learning in our district,” Instructional Technology Manager Chris Sherman said. “It provides the time in the classroom that enables us to focus more on personalizing and differentiating instruction.”