I am delighted to be helping teachers utilize technology in a district with a clear focus on students and the teaching/learning process those students encounter in the classrooms throughout the district. Technology can play a key role in enhancing learning in every discipline as well as giving teachers a great communication tool.
I have been helping teachers use educational technology since 1984 when we set up the first computer lab in the elementary school of a small Southeast Alaska village. I have worked in the Annette Island School District and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in Alaska, the Rangely Public Schools and the Greeley Public Schools in Colorado, and the Everett School District in Washington. My job responsibilities were to coordinate professional development, strategic planning processes, and help implement new technologies district wide. In each of these districts we made great strides forward in technology use to enhance learning in many classrooms.
In 2009 I was offered the opportunity to return to a classroom and teach technology to students in Grades K-6 at St. Thomas School in Medina, Washington. It was both a humbling and exhilarating experience. Humbling, as it taught me that it is NOT an easy task to integrate technology effectively. It takes time, error correction, and a great deal of patience to overcome the technical issues that seem to throw themselves in the way of every great idea! It was exhilarating as I realized that technology is an even more powerful learning tool than I had thought before! Kids absolutely LOVE working using technology and when given a task to accomplish, will always rise to occasion and complete projects that surpass our expectations.
I also found that, while children born today may be digital natives because they are surrounded by technology, once you delve just a bit below the surface there is a great need to teach them:
- to understand and use a modern computer interface efficiently.
- how to think through and manage a project so they end up with a final product that meets the basic requirements first, and adds polish later.
- how to recognize common features (such as icons, menu placement, and dialogs) to make it easier and easier to learn new programs.
- to use the computer and technology to create new products rather than just consume what others have done. This is the hard work of using technology.
- to communicate effectively with a variety of media. How do the graphics support the text, and when is a video better than writing?
- how to work collaboratively on a project. Schools are set up to naturally encourage collaboration, yet is one of the most highly valued skills in the workforce today. Technology can assist collaboration on a variety of levels and allow the teacher to easily see the participation level of their students.
- use Computational Thinking skills to think critically and solve problems they encounter in every discipline. Computational Thinking uses the processes and tools from the computer science field and helps students develop processes that hone their problem solving skills in every aspect of life.
Having lived in Lake Stevens for ten years prior to beginning work here, I am excited to serve the community that has given so much to my family and me!