More than half of all teens spend 30 hours or more per week immersed in technology. It is a huge part of their lives and, because of this, teachers are finding more and more ways to incorporate it into their classrooms to enhance student learning.
Last Wednesday, several San Diego County educators were honored by Technology Training Foundation of America and Time Warner Cable with the Golden Mouse Award. The ceremony, hosted by Channel 10’s Geni Cavitt, recognized teachers and their work in bringing technology into their classrooms.
Representing Ramona Unified was Olive Peirce Middle School librarian Missy Cobian, Olive Peirce teacher Sergio Estrada and Ramona Elementary teacher Bonnie Bickel.
Each educator uses technology in a different way. For Cobian, it’s keeping up with her inquisitive, avid readers while bringing fellow teachers up to speed as well.
“She knows our adolescents represent a generation that has grown up with technology, use it every day, and are adept at multitasking with technology,” said Principal Linda Solis. “She assists teachers in integrating technology into the curriculum, aligning it with student learning goals, using it for engaged learning projects, and provides professional growth for teachers to ensure technology makes learning more relevant to students.”
“Technology is changing all of our lives,” said Cobian. “The questions that librarians used to have to answer by going through pages and pages of microfiche documents can now be accessed at the tap of a finger. Kids today need access to daily opportunities in the classroom to practice the skills they need to meet the challenges they face in the real world.”
She went on to point out that, “students need portable skills, skills they can take with them into any career — the ability to think critically, the ability to find information and analyze the quality of the information they find. The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. Right now, we are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, to use technologies that don’t yet exist, and to solve problems we don’t yet know are problems.”
Estrada’s passion comes in the form of his video production class. Olive Peirce Today (OPT) is a live broadcast that every classroom on campus tunes into each morning. His students are adept at working audio and video mixers, filming, editing, making soundtracks and more.
“In the right hands, computer technology is so more of an art than a science,” said Estrada. “The projects my kids have created have moved emotions, motivated, and inspired others. For me, it has made my job exciting. I love seeing what kids can do when they’re given technology as a tool for learning.”
Estrada said technology is important for two reasons.
“First of all, today’s kids are in a technology driven world, the Internet, cell phones, texting, YouTube, etc. This is a huge part of their world, so, if we want to keep them engaged in the classroom, we need to use as many technology learning opportunities as we can,” he said.
“Secondly, kids are going to be working in a technology-driven world. The ones who are going to be successful in this world are not just those who can use a computer, but rather those who can use them “outside the box” and be creative and innovative with technology.”
“There is not one aspect of our school culture that has not been changed by Sergio Estrada’s passion, commitment, and dedication to his students,” said Solis. “He is an inspiration for every teacher who chooses to work with kids.”
Estrada admits to loving his job.
“Every day I can’t wait to get here,” he said. “I feel very lucky to be a part of something that is so important and exciting. These kids never cease to amaze me and I have no doubt that in their futures they will rock the technology world in even more amazing ways.”
Bickel has been a full-time computer lab aide at Ramona Elementary for the past 15 years. She is truly a jack-of-all-trades. She proctors MAP testing and assists students as they use Compass Learning, Scholastic Reading Counts, and other software applications. Outside of the lab, she helps teachers, mainly by troubleshooting hardware and software problems.
“Technology hasn’t helped or changed my job so much as it IS my job,” she said. “Technology is important in schools to help educate students and also to get them ready for life in an increasingly technology-driven world.
“While it was an honor to be nominated for and receive the Golden Mouse Award, I don’t consider myself a hero, just a hard worker who enjoys helping others, particularly when I’m successful at making technology work for them.”
But, these educators aren’t stopping here.
“Our goal is that in two years, every classroom at OPMS will be equipped with an LCD projector, a document camera, a SMARTboard to allow students to interact with digital lessons, and a bank of at least five computers for students to use while in class,” said Cobian. “We are working to make sure that technology is integrated into the way teachers present lessons and into the way students practice using the knowledge they gain in class.
“We want to expose kids to relevant information that makes their digital world relevant to the skills they are learning in math, language arts, science, or history.”
In addition to their awards, the Golden Mouse recipients will receive between five and 10 refurbished computers for their classrooms.