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techdirections May 2017 : Page 26

own school. The first session focused on one tool—Google Slides—and ways to use it creatively to enhance a lesson. Avera would teach them the tools in the morning, then take over one of the teacher’s classrooms in the afternoon to demonstrate the lesson. Not every teacher was initially onboard. But that changed when student surveys conducted after each lesson suggested that they were more engaged with the lesson. The next semester those four teachers repeated the same PD process and present their sample lessons to the other core content teachers in their school. Middle-school teachers in the pilot became so excited that the middle school produced twice the number of lessons using Google Slides than the high school. Next year they will focus on a new tool. put on a student STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) showcase. Each grade across the district was given a table and invited to present whatever they wanted. The day resulted in oppor-tunities for cross-collaboration be-tween staff and students who didn’t previously know each other. In Ro-moland School District, tech coach Greg Moon focuses on highlighting teachers who are not only doing great things with technology, but can use data to prove results. tual field trips, college tours, and for some, “see” snow for the first time. with the Standards, 7 Start then Get Creative tech to increase 5 Using School Community Align your technology 3 Goals Use with your Mission Valerie Braimah, executive di-rector of City Charter School in Los Angeles and Matthew Cordes, associate director of schools at Ro-man Catholic Diocese of San Diego, both strongly believe in building up and empowering their staff to meet a greater mission. If new technolo-gies or practices can help support a teacher’s goals towards accomplish-ing their school’s mission, then they wholeheartedly support their efforts. Due to that, each school has been able to explore their own products but still stay in alignment with the greater mission of their respective organizations. Yvette Ventura-Rincon, principal in El Rancho Unified School District, saw directly how using email with her students increased their comfort with administration and staff. Yvette sends weekly newsletters, reminders, and personalized emails to check in with her students. This has not only helped students to learn how to use their email appropriately but empow-ered them to reach out when they have issues. When Edna Tristan became princi-pal of the brand new STEAM Acade-my in El Rancho Unified School Dis-trict, her mission was to tie STEAM into the regular classroom through cross-curricular, project-based activi-ties. To do this, she created planning time for teachers to work with col-leagues in different subject areas. For each session they start with the academic standards, then get cre-ative with devising projects that can bring the lessons to life. One example of this is the recent eighth-grade unit on urban planning that asked students for ways to im-prove their city. They researched in language arts, discussed social im-pact in humanities, investigated the impact on the earth in science, and then used electives such as video game design to create their final project. 6 Celebrate and Share 4 Great work A common theme was bringing together staff to share best prac-tices that are happening. Robert Jewett, technology training special-ist at Chino Valley Unified School District, shared that the Department of Instructional Technology orga-nized ChEt Day (Chino Edtech) which featured teachers from across the district running their own sessions on best practices. The EdTech team at Valverde Unified School District Sam Patterson is the makerspace coordinator for Echo Horizon School, Riverside Unified School District an independent school in Culver City has tried a lot when it comes to tech-designed to educate deaf and hard of nology, from personalized delivery systems to coding initiatives and, more recently, virtual reality. At first the VR pro-gram was all about novelty, which Steven Dunlap, direc-tor, innovation and learner engagement, says is natural and to be expected. Teach-ers need to have some time to be excited, but quickly that novelty must also be tied to academics. That means asking teachers to design lesson plans around VR experiences. This holds Sam Patterson, makerspace coordinator for educators to be more ac-Echo Horizon School shares how he uses countable when trying new puppets to help students design around technologies while also cre-empathy in his makerspace. ating a bank of lesson plans specifically focused on VR. Thanks to hearing children in community with this expectation, the district is build-their hearing peers. As the maker-ing a bank of lesson plans around VR, space coordinator, Patterson always meaning that students in Riverside starts with helping his students to have the opportunity to go on vir-learn about someone else’s problem Balance Novelty with Academics Empathy Drive 8 let the Curriculum 26 tech directions ◆ May 2017

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