A Semester in Review 2014

Isn’t it amazing how quickly a semester goes by? Here are a couple short reflections on the end of the semester by the Area 66 Technology staff.

Courage in Embracing Change

Bridget Brown

As my first semester with the District comes to a close, I reflect on the things I’ve learned these past five months and consider what next steps should be taken to inspire better learning for the students, and the role technology will play in that process. As a new hire I was tasked with providing support and training to staff and students at a time in which the district was implementing a multi-tiered technology transformation. I think it is safe to say this transformation could be seen as very exciting but also somewhat scary. However, as Educators we strive to be courageous and embrace these types of changes knowing all the while we are modeling valuable life skills for our students. Considering these things here are my thoughts as to what I believe some next steps might be as we ease into the integration of these tools within the classroom.

First Step:
Patience, Patience; and Patience, Oh my! Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, we must be patient with our students and ourselves as we strive to establish a comfort level with the technology. Despite all of the safety nets in place and the calculated planning, there will be bumps in the road. So when things start to get frustrating or you encounter a stumble, see it as a valuable learning opportunity. And what better way to teach kids to problem solve than to show them first hand.

Second Step:
Remember Learning is constant (especially with technology) and naturally there will be the occasional roadblock or fail But only through trial and error have some of our greatest endeavors succeeded. As educators we have to become comfortable learning the technology alongside our students. After all, we will be responsible for implementing it into the curriculum we teach, so we have to be courageous and take the big step to learn. Additionally, keep in mind that we can expose our students to a dynamic, and engaging learning environment regardless of whether we have all the answers. We must not be afraid to take risks and implement more innovative ways of teaching to bring learning to life.

Third Step:
Keep in mind we are all working towards the same goal, that every student be provided with the best opportunity to acquire knowledge, to develop personally, and to experience success. The effective integration of technology into the curriculum supports these goals, and serves as a means to enhance learning and make it more meaningful. In doing so we no longer see it as computer versus pen and paper, but rather the two are balanced to work seamlessly together.

-Bridget

Another Semester in the Books!

Matt Lee

As I sit here typing up my reflections from the fall semester on my iPad, I can’t help but think about all the great things both students and teachers are doing with technology in the classroom at all grade levels.

It has been extremely enjoyable to watch both staff and students grow in their use of technology. I’ve always said that technology isn’t an end, rather it’s a means to an end – a tool to help provide learning experiences that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

My favorite experiences this semester involve the tech days that Bridget, Jeff and myself completed at each of the elementary buildings. It was great to work with so many students and to see their eyes light up when they were exposed to new apps, especially those that allowed them to express their creativity. Some of their favorites included: Explain Everything, Haiku Deck, iMovie, Keynote and Pic Collage.

We’ve been making a few changes to our learning lab at Area 66. The wall that separated our office from the lab was removed, desks were rearranged and we are in the process of making several more changes over the next few weeks. Our goal is to create a better space for use by teachers and students. Once we are finished I’ll post pictures. Better yet, stop by and check it our for yourselves! Our spring training schedule will be posted soon featuring many great professional learning sessions.

On a personal note, I have been working on my Ph.D. in instructional technology for the past several years. I’m happy to finally have completed it! I especially want to thank to Paul Lindgren, Bob Brousek and Nathan Bramley for all they help they gave me. These individuals exemplify what makes Westside a special place, a place that values collaboration, research and professional learning.

I hope everyone has a great winter break! I look forward to continuing the great work that we’re doing.

-Matt