I attended the CTS (Career and Technology Studies) conference last week. It must be a very difficult to organize since CTS covers such a broad area. CTS subjects include forestry, cooking, construction, welding, cosmetology, outdoor education, sports medicine, sewing, plus all my favourite topics to teach: film and video, animation, design, print and all things related to computer hardware and software.
All of the sessions that I went to were good, although I wish that I had learned that the Career and Technology Foundations curriculum was going to be implemented sooner than 2013. Three of the sessions I attended were excellent. The first challenged me to start teaching computer programming, even though programming is not one of my strengths. The presenter, Harvey Duff, provided a fantastic list of free software that can be used to teach programming and provided advice for adding Computer Programming modules to a CTS course. I learned about, and joined, the new Alberta Chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association. I don’t think I will ever love programming, but I know that some of my students will, and I am excited to learn ways to support them beyond introducing them to Scratch in junior high.
Another excellent session was put on by 2learn.ca, which is a not for profit organization that provides resources and training for teachers. I have used 2Learn resources in the past but was impressed with their revised list of resources for CTS teachers. They demoed at least one site for each strand of CTS and I left with many links to share with the rest of my CTS team.
The last session I attended will probably have the most impact. I learned about the fantastic Prairie Tales program, which produces an annual anthology of curated short films by Alberta artists. The films cover a range of genres including animation. The screening fee includes a workshop by one of the artists on a topic that suits the needs of the school. I plan to use the program next year for my junior and senior high CTS classes, but it could also be valuable in our junior high Film Studies class and all levels of Language Arts.
The conference was in Lake Louise, so I brought my husband and kids along to enjoy the scenery (and hotel pool) with me. I was glad I did, since it meant I didn’t have to do the driving. We left Innisfail on Thursday night during a heavy snowfall warning, and when we left Lake Louise on Saturday, it was under a heavy snowfall warning as well. Fortunately the roads weren’t too bad, and the weather has warmed up enough now that all of the new spring snow has melted.