When Shirl Williams began teaching 19 years ago, there wasn't an abundance of technology being used in the classrooms.
"It was much more difficult to catch their (students') attention," said the Houston County High School math teacher.
Nowadays, students are entering school tech-savvy and with a different learning mind-set than 20 years ago, which is why Ms. Williams and more than 200 educators from the Southeast converged on Augusta for a two-day Texas Instruments Regional Conference at Fort Discovery.
"I'm here to learn more about technology and teaching math," Ms. Williams said as she looked at a new graphing calculator.
"Technology engages students and keeps their attention," she said. "I try to use it as much as possible."
Jimmy Bostock, the director of the Georgia Department of Education's Educational Technology Center, which is sponsoring the conference, said it's important for math and science teachers to learn how to use 21st century tools.
"The days of teachers standing up in front of the classroom lecturing are quickly going away," he said. "We learned that way, but students today don't learn that way anymore."
Educators from the elementary to college levels attended the conference, learning new teaching tools they could use, including interactive whiteboards and Web sites and graphing calculators that allow children in elementary school to explore higher levels of mathematics.
Mr. Bostock said it is crucial for teachers to embrace technology because there is a push, especially in Georgia, for teachers to use standards-based classrooms -- teaching students real world, relevant, hands-on experiences.
"The best way to do that is to use 21st century technology," he said.
Students today are very visual and learn better when they are actively engaged in their learning.
"The pedagogy is the same," Mr. Bostock said. "It's the method of delivery that has changed."
Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org