Just returned from CTAP Region 2 Summer Technology Leadership Conference at California State University, Chico. The conference was terrific in many ways, not the least of which was the devotion of everyone there to making sure that the attendee experience was top notch, from the sessions to the food!
The opening session was one of the best I’ve ever experienced – really different and an expression of professional devotion to teachers and students by everyone involved. The highlight of the morning was the tale of Paul Haas, Director of the Region 2 center. In May 2007, Paul decided to ride his bike around his entire region and blog about it. Despite having no long-distance bike riding experience or training, he decided to do it NOW, meaning that less than a month later, he completed a 775 mile ride in 7 days. Crazy? Maybe…. but along the way, he visited every county office of education, kept a blog with “handlecam” videos, cemented relationships, and collected over $50,000 in donated resources from sponsors.
Maybe every technology plan should include a little “crazy!”
In his first blog post, which echoes an open letter to the superintendents of the 134 school districts in the region, he outlines his goals:
I am preparing to embark on an interesting physical and professional challenge and hope that you might be interested in being part of it – or following along via the Internet. Beginning next Tuesday, June 19 and concluding June 28, I am going to attempt to ride my bicycle around CTAP Region 2 – the CTAP Region 2 Ride for Resources- hitting all nine county offices within approximately seven riding days. The trip is close to 775 miles and covers a variety of geographic areas – including mountains, high desert, the upper
- Create a Virtual Field Trip (VFT) of the nine counties within CTAP Region 2.
- Raise awareness of CTAP services and resources.
- Promote the CTAP Region 2 Summer Technology Leadership Conference (STLC) – approximately 200+ teachers attend annually.
- Build partnerships and sponsorships with companies/organizations that provide quality digital resources that support teaching and learning.
Paul says, “My job is to bring good people together so that good things happen.” The interesting thing is, this of course is not about technology. It’s about putting people together to do what’s right for children and education.
As Paul talked about his journey, it was clear that this was more than a physical challenge for him, it was an expression of the passion he feels about bringing technology to his corner of California (literally!) As he said, “It would have been good to have trained for this!” — don’t we all feel that way, but do what we have to do anyway?
Some of Paul’s thoughts along the way:
Day 1 – 151 miles. 6,000 foot elevation change. “Gravity sucks!”
Day 2 – 105 degrees
Day 3 – going to die
Day 4 – all is well, clarity achieved
Day 5-7 – Region 2 is all about the people and personal sacrifices we make
For next year, they are working on creating a website called Variations on a Theme. The concept is to start with a Garageband track of the famous Pachelbel’s Canon (also known as Canon in D major) and allow students and teachers from the region to add anything they create to the site, including music, writing, videos, or anything anyone comes up with as a variation on this theme. Very cool idea!
After lunch, the sessions started. I was there to facillitate two sessions about GenYES, which is one of the EETT grant projects running in two of the counties that make up Region 2. Five schools just finished their first year of having GenYES students help teachers use technology in their classrooms, and these teachers shared their experiences with everyone else. It was great to hear once again how the GenYES model had unexpected positive benefits for students and teachers alike. All five schools had excellent results and are coming back for the second year with innovative ideas for continuing to expand what students can do to help integrate technology into every classroom.
The new California EETT just added technology literacy to the requirements, so we talked some about TechYES and how student projects in any subject area can meet these requirements. I was also really happy to be able to show everyone our recently updated TechYES portal. The TechYES portal has freely available resources for middle school students doing technology projects, in addition to resources for TechYES teachers and peer mentors. I’ll write more about that soon, after we finish all our summer updates to the site and tools!
This conference was also notable for showcasing resources from other regional service centers, districts and counties within the state. The TechSETS project, which has incredible resources for IT and tech support personnel in schools, started as a regional project. Channel Islands Live has live feeds of dives off the California coast and their “eagle cam” videos. The Migrant Education Portal brings information to all educators about working with migrant students and families.
For those of you outside California, the CTAPs are the regional educational technology service centers that help districts and schools plan and implement educational technology. CTAP Region 2 is a large region comprising the northeast most part of the state. Fun facts from their site:
- CTAP Region 2 comprises 19.4% of the total land mass of California but is home to only 1.7% of the state’s population.
- Region 2 is about the same size as the state of Maine or the state of South Carolina.
- From corner to corner Region 2 spans about 300 miles and requires about seven hours to traverse by car.
- In Region 2, there are 26 persons per square mile. The statewide average is 217 persons per square mile.