NORTHUMBERLAND — An administrator and teacher from Sunbury Christian Academy spoke an international conference in Miami about using technology in the classroom.
School Superintendent JoAnn Kieffer and computer and career teacher Alison Tomko were two of 12 speakers chosen for EdmodoCon 2019 on Nov. 2 at the University of Miami Watsco Center Fieldhouse hosted by the educational technology company Edmodo. They also taught a workshop on Nov. 4 at the Miami Dade School District, the fourth largest school district in the country.
"We're trying to provide programming for our students that will prepare them for the culture and society that they will graduate into," said Kieffer. "A lot of people have the impression that a Christian school is a glorified Sunday school. They don't realize the academics behind it and it's truly an educational system. We're trying to be at the forefront of providing those opportunities for our students so they're prepared for the world they're going into."
EdmodoCon is a global professional development conference where hundreds of teachers come and more than 15,000 people participated online. Educators from around the world share inspiring stories and practical strategies from the best in the education community. This year, EdmodoCon was centered on helping people discover valuable new resources for social and emotional learning, digital citizenship, and student engagement through three unique learning tracks, according to the EdmodoCon website.
Tomko said they were chosen due to the real-world skills and technology they added to the curriculum this past school year.
"We added Employability Skills and Personal Finance to our senior high schedule," said Tomko. "In addition to teaching communication skills in a professional environment through the use of Edmodo as a discussion platform, we are also using tools such as Skype and Zoom to speak to professionals in career areas our students are interested in pursuing after high school. This is truly a 21st Century approach to our students' education."
Kieffer at the beginning of the school year introduced language strategies to teach communication skills to the students in a culture where they rarely talk to people. Tomko specifically taught those skills to help the students communicate with each other and with the professionals, such as doctors and scientists, through Skype and Zoom.
Kieffer and Tomko remarked that their small, private school with a senior class of seven was recognized at this event where the fourth largest school district in the country is located.
"It was really amazing because I thought it was going to be in front of an auditorium full of people," said Keiffer. "The majority of folks who saw our presentation registered and viewed us online. At the last count, it was 15,000 people worldwide. It was really amazing to be part of something so huge."