Few teachers can empower students to sharpen their leadership skills on a daily basis. Empowerment requires the vision to see potential in students and the courage to give them authentic opportunities to grow and test themselves. I recently had the pleasure of witnessing just such a teacher in action and I even got a chance to see how technology is helping her students in a myriad of ways.
Brady Jaime was conducting an interview with a student candidate for a dance team leadership position when I visited her. It was clear through her questioning that she knew what she was looking for. A student that; genuinely cared for their classmates, was diligent, respected and not afraid to do what was right in the face of criticism. The student possessed the skills in question and it became apparent that Mrs. Jaime had been watching all of her students mindfully to determine who would be the best fit. She had selected the interviewee based on classroom observations of her over time. She mentioned that she learns the most in the moments that students didn't realize she was watching.
I then had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Jaime's use of her iPad in her Dance class. Students were filmed in whole and small groups and she said the footage would later be critiqued by her and her students. She mentioned the power of using peer assessment to improve individual performance through reflection. It was exciting to see the support that an iPad was providing to her formative assessment methods was leading to a paradigm shift in her classroom. Students could see themselves immediately after their dance or even realtime as the recording is happening on the tv screens in her room. As a former coach I can relate to Mrs. Brady when she said that she can tell her students they need to change something to improve, but the student thinks they are doing it right and as result they do not change. With an iPad Mrs. Jaime can show her students on the spot an example of a students doing a dance correctly compared to how they were dancing a few minutes ago.
At this point in the school year, almost every teacher within Chaffey Joint Union High School District has their iPad and has begun using it to impact instruction. We are excited to be going around to classrooms and seeing the ways that teachers are engaging their students with a multitude of new ideas. What we've suspected all along is that the iPad would impact the classroom, but it has been much more than that. See, once teachers get comfortable with the technology, they start asking about what else we can do to improve instruction.
Rancho Cucamonga High School has been using technology for quite some time, so it was fun to hang out with Mr. Hansen to see how he and his department have been using the recently updated computer labs to impact instruction. With Desmos, an online graphing calculator (oh yeah, it's free!), his students were able to manipulate points and functions to represent desired quadratic functions. If you are interested, the handouts for the days are below:
Matching Quadratic Functions
Getting the chance to see this in action was a whole lot of fun! Kids were completely engaged and interested in why their graph wasn't perfectly matching up, all while their neighbor's was. There was a lot of rich conversation that ensued and, lo and behold, academic vocabulary was being used to discern between each of the functions in question. As a teacher, this was a dream scenario - kids debating over which function was correct using academic vocabulary and manipulating a graph... WOW!
If you haven't had the chance to mess around with Desmos for all of your graphing needs, we encourage you to do so. We have yet to find its limits of integration and support. Oh, and speaking of support, their Twitter handle is phenomenal for seeking advice or extending the project to another level. Try it out, reach out, and see what happens!
Sure, we are updating technology all around the district, and everyone is excited about the changes that are happening. However, it means nothing if we continue to go about business as usual. Mr. Hansen and the RCHS math team are just a small sample of the work being done around the district to seamlessly integrate technology into their current lesson plans. Mr. Luebbers at Montclair High School has completely redefined what a high school history classroom could look like with multiple screens, insanely interactive classes, and a true passion for teaching his students. Ms. Ramos has her students doing backflips with technology, using Thinglink, Google Docs, InstaGrok, and so much more to enhance the learning experience in history.
If you have a story of how you are using (or have used) technology to redefine what your classroom looks like, we would love to hear about it and come to see you in action. Please let us know by emailing us, commenting below, or sending us a message on Twitter. We look forward to finding out how you're making a difference in the lives of your students!
Demi, John Stevens, John Corrow, and Paula are excited to visit classrooms and meet with teachers to see some of the awesome things that are going on within CJUHSD.