At Renton Prep, we dedicate our values to helping students and faculty flourish in all areas. As devoted participants in education-related events, our school was honored to present at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). This is the third opportunity our students and faculty have been given to present at FETC since our school was selected as the FETC STEM Excellence Middle School in 2016. For nearly 40 years, the FETC has gathered some of the world’s most dynamic and creative education professionals. The conference has impacted thousands of districts, educators, and ultimately, students. We are so thankful to watch our students and faculty come back with motivation and eagerness to learn more. Thank you to the FETC for this wonderful opportunity.
Each year that we’ve engaged in the Future of Education Technology Conference, we’ve had more students volunteer to present. Whether through talks, workshops, or concurrent sessions, our students ambitiously participated to share with the audience. This year, we had students from 1st through 10th grade presenting! When it comes to our students, it’s not just about tools that automate and adapt to them. It’s about the right match that allows them to determine solutions to complex problems through creativity, humanity, and judgement.
With the opportunity to share at conferences like these, our students gain confidence and self worth. Allowing them to impact educators from all over the nation is an eye opening experience for them. On January 28-29, eight students from Kindergarten through 5th grade presented at FETC. First grade students, Kathryn Huhs, Kaylee Pascua, Alia Osses, Athena White, and Aubree Martinez shared their experiences with Paint3D. They showed the audience how to create 3D models. Also, Kindergartner, Trinity White, taught educators how to paint and mix colors with Microsoft’s “FreshPaint.” Finally, 5th Grade students, Keona Pascua, and Sofia Osses shared a Sway presentation about what it is like to mentor First and Second Grade students.
Students discussed ethical implications like pop culture, how we perceive it, and how it may skew perspectives of what actually exists. By using tools supported by machine learning and AI, our students presented while developing human connection in the audience.
Throughout the conference, Dr. Michelle Zimmerman and students gave an overview of why a broad perspective of Artificial Intelligence is important for schools to consider. For instance, the world they are currently experiencing with AI and what will they experience in the near future?
Additionally, some students touched base on Dr. Michelle Zimmerman’s book, Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning and how they are contributing authors. They focused on exposing the way they are already harnessing the power of AI across multiple domains. From future careers and collaborative tools built on AI and Machine Learning, students created a broader picture of their world and understanding.
We are thankful for the support of Veronica Zayas, Microsoft Education in AI and Dustin Ryan, Data Platform Technology Solutions at Microsoft. They jumped in to co-present on AI, cognitive services, and building a chatbot in Azure for the IT audience. Veronica helped guide IT professionals through thinking about the school events that will benefit from the IT side. Also, she introduced the advantages of bots and how some of the most common questions schools receive can be supported by bots to free up time for humans to engage at deeper levels. Whereas, Dustin Ryan stepped in and walked IT through Azure and capabilities to create a chatbot for specific purposes. Additionally, he built a chatbot in under 40 minutes as a live demonstration.
Dr. Michelle Zimmerman
Last year, FETC invited Dr. Michelle Zimmerman to be a featured speaker in the IT Track and touch on AI prior to writing her book. Not only was she invited again in 2019, but it is also the first year that she was able to lead so many workshops, talks, and co-presentations. This year, Dr. Michelle Zimmerman presented 3 two-hour workshops:
- Artificial Intelligence: Will AI Really Automate School IT?
- STEM, Culture, and Business Skills Through Experiential Learning at Disney
- Design Thinking and Disney Innovation
Moreover, she hosted 3 talk sessions on design thinking, her views on School Law and Cyberbullying, 6 steps for Microsoft Teams. She also had a radio podcast with the EduTechGuys. On top of the amazing experience, FETC gave Dr. Michelle Zimmerman her first opportunity for a Meet the Author and book signing.
Innovation and Practice
Each presentation and workshop at the FETC took a unique perspective. With the tools we’ve used in Office 365 and Microsoft Transformation Framework, Renton Prep has been able to present in multiple conferences. Moreover, Renton Prep is a Microsoft Showcase School, and the first K-12 school in the United States to be part of the Microsoft Flagship Schools program. As a result, school leaders from around the world have been invited to meet and learn as we model and challenge education. The next conferences Renton Prep and students will be presenting at will occur at the end of February at NCCE in Seattle and Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. To learn more about our school and student life here at RPCS, contact us today!