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Baldwin-Whitehall teachers don't take a vacation when it comes to learning about technology

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Debbie Reynolds and Stephanie Neal
Janet Moik and Georgann Helman
Karen Suchy Melissa Langer Patti Dulak

At least 60 Baldwin-Whitehall educators plan to spend one or more afternoons of summer vacation in school, learning to build a website, flip a classroom or sign up on Twitter.

With the help of a fellow Baldwin-Whitehall teacher or administrator, district staffers were invited this summer to attend 19 sessions that introduced them to both basic and advanced technology for free.

The summer professional development class topics ranged from how to use a white board, to the “gamificiation” of a class, where teachers can give a classroom a game-like setting. It's the first time the program has been offered in Baldwin-Whitehall.

“All of these sessions were really designed to take everybody at all experience levels and just show them how they might use (technology) in their classroom,” said Janeen Peretin, director of information and instructional technology, who coordinated the program. “There's a little bit of everything.”

During the school year, district administrators have a limited time for professional development and often must use the time set aside to review state mandates and training with staffers, Peretin said.

Technology, Peretin said, is always changing and there are many tools available to help educators in the classroom, Peretin said.

“It can be intimidating and overwhelming,” she said.

Baldwin-Whitehall teachers and administrators who use various technology and tools on a daily basis in their lives and classroom volunteered to share their passion with their colleagues, Peretin said. As payment for teaching a summer professional development camp, the teachers will have access to technology tools in their classroom next year.

The summer sessions were made up of small groups of staffers who were introduced to a tool or software, then given the chance to try it themselves, with an experienced district teacher overseeing them.

The hope is that it breaks down barriers between district buildings, Peretin said, and allows teachers from all Baldwin-Whitehall schools to connect and learn about technology from each other.

The camps also helped introduce staffers to tools that they might use in their everyday lives, but had not realized could be beneficial in the classroom.

“So many of us, we love Pinterest. You get so many great ideas about decorating, recipes, any interest that you might have, but there is a wealth of information specific to education and technology,” Peretin said. “Why not kind of harness the power of Pinterest?”

For staffers who couldn't make it to a summer session, Peretin plans to make “On Demand Professional Development” available. A narrated video was created for each course offered this summer that will be archived and can be viewed by teachers at any time.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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