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2014 UFT Spring Education Conference

Readin’, writin’ and ‘selfies’

New York Teacher

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Participants attending the Using Apple Technology to Transform Classroom Learnin
Dorothy Callaci

Participants attending the Using Apple Technology to Transform Classroom Learning workshop use their own iPads, MacBooks and iPhones as they follow an Apple representative’s instructions on many ways to use technology to augment classroom instruction at all grade levels. The workshop overview was based on the best ideas and suggestions of the teachers and students the company had consulted. Roving teams of Apple instructors were on hand to help those having trouble with their devices or with understanding the instructions.



“Education for the 21st century!” That’s how Chapter Leader Brenda Casey of PS 371 in Sunset Park described the workshops at the UFT’s annual Spring Education Conference on April 26.

Not surprisingly, technology was the focus of three of the six workshops in classrooms at the Hilton Hotel. Participants, many with their own devices, learned how to use the best educational applications available and the wide range of free online resources for appropriate learning activities.

Classroom teachers and even students, serving as panel members or facilitators, brought both their experiences and practical advice to many of the workshops. Participants spent a busy morning engaged and interactively involved in either two one-hour workshops or one two-hour workshop, whichever they had selected from the broad range of choices.

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At the full-house, interactive workshop titled The Institute for Understanding B
Maria Bastone

At the full-house, interactive workshop titled The Institute for Understanding Behavior: Sharing Successful Practices (K-12), attendees were eager to share their classroom experiences, both funny and sad. In return they learned about ways to respond to stressful situations and to develop skills to anticipate and respond to challenging behaviors. Like many of those at the workshop, Luanne Sirsky (front, hand raised) of Hillcrest HS agreed that staff training sessions addressing behavior issues would improve student engagement.



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Mindy Schwartz of the UFT Teacher Center leads a group of educators in the Digit
Maria Bastone

Mindy Schwartz of the UFT Teacher Center leads a group of educators in the Digital Tools for Instruction: Engaging All Learners (K-12) workshop. The hundreds of participants were divided into five groups with each group focusing on one aspect of how to integrate technology so that it facilitates project-based learning. The hour was divided so that each group had an opportunity to attend each of the stations.



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Shell Lewis (right) explains her work as resource coordinator for PS 30 in Manha
Maria Bastone
Shell Lewis (right) explains her work as resource coordinator for PS 30 in Manhattan to the audience attending the Making, Managing and Refining School Program Partnerships workshop. The two-hour workshop focused on the work of putting together partnerships in building strong Community Learning Schools. Those experienced in the field gave their firsthand accounts of the process. Panelists included (from left) Antonina Simeti, the director of planning and implementation at the New York City Community Learning Schools Initiative; teacher Sophy Aponte of PS 18 in the Bronx; Rachel Cytron of Harlem RBI, a youth development program; Norma Ortega, a PS 18 resource coordinator; and teacher/librarian Brenda Shufelt of PS 30.
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The audience pays close attention at the Growing Young Learners workshop, with o
Maria Bastone

The audience pays close attention at the Growing Young Learners workshop, with one participant following along using a colorful handout. With pre-K on so many agendas, it’s no surprise the workshop was popular — so much so that an order went out for many more chairs to accommodate everyone.



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UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds thanks Urban Academy
Maria Bastone

UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds thanks Urban Academy teacher Avram Barlowe and student Eva Garcia-Ferres for presenting their views about the benefits of performance-based assessment in the Educating for the 21st Century: Practitioner-Developed and Student-Focused Performance Assessments (Secondary Level) workshop. Barlowe explained how teachers at his school together “hammer out” curriculum and that it is often highly influenced by student questions. One of the several students who participated said, “I’m now writing papers that actually engage me.”

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Two participants in the Digital Tools workshop try their hand at a “selfie.”
Maria Bastone

Two participants in the Digital Tools workshop try their hand at a “selfie.”

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Kindergarten teacher Kathleen Gruffi of PS 76 in the Bronx advises her audience
Maria Bastone

Kindergarten teacher Kathleen Gruffi of PS 76 in the Bronx advises her audience not to reinvent the wheel. In the Growing Young Learners: Building a Comprehensive Early Childhood Foundation (Pre-K-2) workshop, she shared her favorite free online resources for developing appropriate learning activities. She even led a sing-a-long about the month of April. Nicole Dunne, the chapter leader of PS 354 in Queens, also shared her ideas, and a PBS representative explained the value of “Sesame Street” for young learners.