Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Six Highlights from an EdTech year

As the 2015-16 school year came to a close, so did my year as the Technology Instructor and EdTech Coach for our school. When first approached with the possibility of taking on these roles, I felt hesitant, to say the least. I surrounded myself with great people, connected with TOSAs, participated more fully in Twitter chats, and worked hard to create curricula for our students that would instruct, inspire, and encourage students. I also developed Professional Development (PD) sessions for my colleagues and guided them and supported them to the best of my ability. That which we did not know, we learned together.

This school year provided incredible opportunities for our students and for us. This year offered a time of growth for the students and for the educators who love them. This year was a game-changer and everyone benefited in one way or another, if not multiple ways. This was truly an EduAwesome year of Adventure.

Highlights from the year:

1) Using technology to teach journalism. By incorporating newspaper and yearbook into the technology classes, student reaped the benefits. Eighth graders learned journalistic style and worked on creating designs, writing blog posts, interviewing people and taking photographs. Yearbooks students worked to design and plan, with some honing photography skills as well.

2) Hour of Code: We had over 220 students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade who learned at least a wee bit of coding. How cool is that?! We had one seventh grader who logged over 50 hours of coding in a two-month period and shared this with joy on his face in his heart. We used a variety of tools collectively and a handful of students found their own. Tools we used included: and then later we discovered and which many students loved. Later still, some second graders started working with Scratch. Our Hour of Code grew from a schoolwide activity in December to a driving force of learning within the technology curricula throughout the school year.

3) Maps! Everything maps! We used Google Maps, MyMaps, TourBuilder, and everything we could in between. Students with downttime, would "play" in GeoGuessr. Students explored the world and broke down the walls of the classroom with help from mapping, but especially interactive mapping. Third graders mapped the Oregon Trail which fourth graders created Heroes Tours using Tour Builder. All grades loved discovering where in the world they were by simply exploring in GeoGuessr. GeoGuessr reminds me of a mapping version of "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego" while the activities we did in MyMaps took me back to the days of learning in "Oregon Trail." Recognizing the differences, of course, I introduced the third graders to an online version of Oregon Trail which also introduced them to DOS. DOS--WHAT?! Yes!

4) The STEAM Fair! All aboard the train of awesomeness! These students rocked this! Seventh and eighth  grade students created STEAM projects within the technology classes. However, participation in the STEAM Fair was optional. We had a few students who entered their projects for the STEAM Fair and even added a couple. Two kindergarten students entered projects: a wiggle bot and a static electricity butterfly. This is just the beginning for these young learned and much more lies ahead for them. I am so proud of their hard work and their interest in learning.

5) Video: video was everywhere. It was the primary point of learning for sixth grade students. We did varying video projects, but video was incorporated into other classes as well. Eighth graders worked on their "Through the Eyes of an Eighth Grader" project that they turned in at the end of the year. Their task: Show what a school year looks like through your eyes. At least one completely blew my mind as it opened a door for a learner to express himself in a new way, a way that worked really, really well for him. The seventh grade class used video, as well. The most note-able project being their final project of the year: a marketing plan. Of course, sixth graders did weathercasts, news reports, and TED-style talks. Students used mobile devices to record, and editing happend using Windows Live Movie Maker, iMovie, and WeVideo. My favorite: WeVideo!

6) Audio/podcasting: The fifth graders rocked my socks with their podcasting adventures this year. They wrote scripts which had them honing typing skills, they researched the topics that they brainstormed, and then they recorded.  We recorded using Audacity ad the podcasts were uploaded for listening to Spreaker. We kept it very simple, using a USB microphone and a computer. Most difficult thing to contend with: background noise. However, the sound of work happening is a beautiful sound!

There are so many other incredible things that happened this year. There was so much learning that blossomed. Teachers started using Google Classroom and we refined our use of Google Calendar for checking out Chromebook carts. The Technology Lab was open after school daily and sometimes at lunch (by appointment). This was an incredible year for our students and our teachers. This was a trailblazing year. It was an honor and a pleasure to be a part of something so fantastic. I hope to go back and visit to see where they take it from here. For me, my role is shifting. A new position, at a new school, in a new chance for more EduAwesome Adventure! Let's roll!

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Rock on, educators and students! Rock...on!