gmhTODAY 18 gmhToday Feb March 2018 - Page 66

School Days Leveraging Tech in Learning I n the Digital Age, educational technology is a top priority. As Coordinator of Educational Technology for GUSD, Kay Guenther has created a roadmap for the school district’s implementation of educational technology, teacher training in use of the technology, and curriculum planning that ensures its effective application in classroom learning. As one example, teachers have received training in the use of Google Apps for Education and integrated these tools into their curriculum. According to Guenther, teachers are making increasing use of online curriculum for English, Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Study Skills, and more. Each student has a Google Apps for Education account so they can l og in at school and at home to access all of their work. Guenther noted that grants from the Gilroy Foundation and from the Tech Museum of Innovation have provided valuable support for educational technology adoption. Through a partner- ship with the Tech Museum, Brownell and El Roble have received grants for teacher training and support programs. The school district also partners with Common Sense Media to provide students with lessons in “digital citizenship,” which covers topics from cyberbullying, internet safety and information literacy, to copyright, privacy, digital footprint, and other skills needed to learn and thrive in an increasingly digital world. Another significant school district effort is the adoption and use of Chromebooks, with the ultimate goal of having a Chromebook for every student. Meanwhile, the district’s IT Director, Marybelle Gusar, is overseeing the build-out of WiFi infra- structure for every campus. There are only 66 two elementary schools to go and then the entire district will have WiFi. The goal is for every school to have sufficient Chromebooks, stored on Chromecarts, powered by built-in WiFi. Guenther said the district is also extending Project Lead the Way with a new Computer Science educational path- way at Christopher High School in Fall 2018. The program includes professional development for teaching Math and Computer Science as part of an integrated curriculum. Guenther was involved with a similar implementation of the Biomedical Science pathway at Gilroy High School five years ago. That pathway has seen significant growth in enrollment with students well-prepared for acceptance into related degree programs at leading colleges and universities.    Last December, several district schools kicked off Computer Science Week by participating in the Hour of Code, a coding challenge designed to provide K-12 students with their first taste of com- puter science. According to Scott Otteson, Principal of El Roble Elementary, the con- cept of Hour of Code has been expanded at El Roble, where students (First Grade and up) participate in a year-long enrichment class, two days a week. Using Scratch, a free programming language and online community, students create their own inter- active stories, animations, and games.  “The more hands-on activities the students are involved in, the more skilled and confident they become with coding,” Otteson said. Vicky Groppe teaches Science at Brownell Middle School where her students are doing hands-on work with computers and integrating computer science and beginning software GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 development into their studies. Brownell is taking a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) approach to learning. “There’s a big art component in the classroom and in the real world. Recently a docent from the San Jose Art Museum showed our students the work of great artists in history who designed simple machines in their art. Things like mobiles, fulcrums, and pulley systems. In engineering we use simple machines like these. We teach Newton’s laws of forces in motion and look at 3D pieces of art. Take the Bay Bridge. It’s engineered art based on science, right down to its synchronized lights. Some students who aren’t comfort- able with abstract science concepts find it easier to express them through art. Science is embedded in art, and art is everywhere.” Brownell is in its second year as a Tech Academy school. Students are learning how to explore ideas, create designs, and solve problems using technology. “It might take multiple attempts but along the way they discover how things work in a real-world scenario. We encourage them to approach problems from a cross-curricular perspective. At the end of the day they own the solution and understand how to apply it what they’ve learned in other subjects and classes.” Brownell students are participating in the Tech Academy’s annual Tech Challenge. The theme is “Drop and Dash.” Students must overcome time constraints and other obstacles and find a way to deliver medical supplies to someone with a life-threatening medical condition. “Tech Challenge and hands-on class- room labs let students apply learning and then present and defend their results. It’s very empowering for them.” Written By Robin Shepherd