Grateful!! That is the word that comes to mind when I reflect on the past several months of technology teaching and student learning in my district’s elementary schools. I was lucky enough to receive a MassCUE grant to create mobile technology units to share with all 5 of our Kindergarten through fifth grade schools. In the past, each elementary school in the Nauset district worked alone in purchasing materials, leading to minimal resources for staff and students in each building. Our district was struggling with how to teach the new Digital Literacy and Computer Science standards, without any up to date resources. The MassCUE grant allowed me the opportunity to gather and choose coding and computer science tools for various grade levels. We created a “lending library” of technology to share, so our buildings wouldn’t be restricted by the minimal tech budgets each building received. We purchased collapsible bins and wheeled carts to transport the mobile units to and from each building. We then created a Google doc system, including a calendar, to keep track of where the kits were in the district, and a Tech Kit Comment Page for useful tips and possible lesson plan modifications.
Of course an integral part of the plan had to include administrative support allowing the technology teachers from each building to meet once a month for Professional Development. These meetings have proven to be invaluable, giving staff an avenue for learning the tools before taking them into our classrooms. We shared ideas and created new lessons together – a tremendous opportunity for staff to collaborate and reflect on their teaching and the effects it has on student learning.
I have been teaching technology for the past 20 years, and personally this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. The ability to shift technology teaching and learning in my district, and to participate as students and staff learn together with increasing motivation and excitement, has renewed my love of teaching. Watching my students light up when they see a technology bin coming off the shelf is an amazing feeling! Knowing that we are improving their social/emotional skills, as they work as partners or teams to solve problems, gives an incredible sense of pride to our technology staff. We thank you for this wonderful opportunity! Below are just a few examples of our lessons:
- Animal research projects culminating in Green Screen video productions
- Integrated Social Emotional Learning creating moving mini Billboard signs with positive messages for classmates
- Building robotic kits using the engineering design process and critical thinking skills to problem solve in an obstacle course
Dawn Steber has been an elementary level Instructional Technology Specialist in the Nauset District for 20 years. She presently works for both Orleans Elementary School and Stony Brook Elementary School, guiding students and staff as they integrate technology tools and lessons into every day of learning.
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