Web design, 3D printing, and Google Classroom. These were just a few of the innovations on display at this year’s Tech Talk Conference.

This annual event is a golden opportunity for networking and professional growth, especially among CPS educators who are passionate about getting new technology into the classroom. More than 1,000 CPS teachers and staff gathered at Lane Tech for this year’s conference, relishing the chance to collaborate with tech-savvy colleagues and learn from experts in the field of educational technology.

In addition to the 50 breakout sessions, which covered everything from the use of iPads in classrooms to keeping students safe online, Tech Talk highlighted this year’s standouts in the area of technology integration. With its launch of tontitech.com, Enrico Tonti Elementary School has expanded blended and personalized learning resources in its classrooms. This, along with encouraging students to engage with digital creation tools that help them share their work and explore digital literacy, earned Tonti the 2016 Innovative School of the Year Award at this year’s Tech Talk Conference.

The Innovator of the Year Award went to Burley teacher Nicholas Giacobbe, who has facilitated virtual debates in his classroom, used software to monitor Math growth, and encouraged his students to publish their best work online. He has traveled the country to speak at conferences and workshops, touting the benefits of educational technology tools for students and staff.

This year’s “Ones to Watch” winners, who are considered among the most innovative staff in the District, were also recognized at the Tech Talk Conference. Rose An, a teacher at Orr Academy High School, was honored for training her fellow teachers on the use of digital creation tools and securing a grant for 1-to-1 iPads in her classroom. In 2012, Rose also used Google tools to develop a progress monitoring system for students with diverse learning needs, which Orr still uses to track how effectively instruction is being delivered.

Ronald Carroll, a Technology Coordinator at Chicago Academy High School, is also “One To Watch”, having implemented personalized learning tools in his classroom and throughout his entire school. Ronald is a leader among his colleagues, actively facilitating the sharing of knowledge and best practices among tech coordinators throughout the District.

The final “One to Watch” this year is Taneesha Thomas, the Digital Learning Coordinator at Bogan High School, which was the first CPS high school with 1-to-1 computing. Taneesha has developed a tutorial video that teachers use as an introduction to Google classroom, and continues training her colleagues on integrating Google apps into their curriculum.

An advanced professional development opportunity, Tech Talk was the perfect backdrop for this well-deserved recognition. The in-depth nature of this conference aligns perfectly with CPS’ goal – to continue as a national leader in utilizing educational technology to achieve even more in the classroom.