Digital Innovation Pathways | Day 2 PD

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What is the Digital Innovation Pathways?

Digital Innovation Pathways, affectionately known as DIP is a 1-3 year program for educators from Poudre School District. Teachers are engaged in two days of professional development at the Information Technology Center. During this time teacher investigate ways to integrate technology into their classrooms. These two days of PD are high level, big-picture days. Participants can then choose from over 30, more focused PD classes with Educational Technology Facilitators. Check out the classes here, they are open to anyone in PSD. Participants also participate in a school-based study group where they curate digital portfolios and discuss EdTech related topics such as screen time, fringe technologies like virtual reality and tech tools that enhance student learning. Talk with your principal or an EdTech facilitator if you are interested in joining DIP next school year. Thanks to voters who support the EdTech department through mill levy funding.

Day 2 Activities

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Participants choose from 5 options based on frequently asked questions, emails and grumblings that we hear as teachers enhance lessons with technology. Check out the following resources from the sessions here.  The sessions cover social media, screen time, citing sources, basic troubleshooting and how to help students manage devices in a digital world. 

afternoon-challengesVirtual Reality

pam-in-vrIn the afternoon of DIP Day 2 PD teachers choose from 4 different challenges. One of the afternoon problem based learning challenges teachers can choose is a virtual reality/bridge building challenge. Virtual reality is ripe, fresh and fun; yet many teachers are unsure how to use this tech in their classrooms. This session (all materials available here) demonstrates how teachers can use VR to engage students and immerse students in environments we can’t typically or easily visit (think the lungs, Galapagos, Great Wall of China or NBC img_2179studios.)  After learning about bridge design in virtual reality, participants create a bridge out of spaghetti and we use a Vernier Structure and Materials
tester to break the bridge. Check out other science probes available in the district by checking the resources tab on science.psdschools.org.

Robotics Challenges

Participants can also choose to learn about Robotics. EdTech has Cubelets and Moss Robotics kits available for reservation. Participants in this challenge were tasked with rescuing an astronaut from Mars. Through problem solving and creative thinking teachers use robotics kits to save a lego astronaut. Participants also were tasked with creating a press release describing their rescue mission and equipment used. Check out all the resources to recreate this experience with your students here. Below is a video describing the process and challenge in more detail. 

Podcasting

padletPodcasting is more than recording your voice. Podcasting is about the writing process and demonstrating your creativity in order to effectively  engage your listeners. The podcasting session engaged participants in using Audacity, BandLab and WeVideo to create their podcasts. Particpants focused on the danger of telling a single story, a topic very relevant in our evolving media landscape. Examples can be found in padlet, click here to listen to some of the podcasts. Check out all the resources to recreate this experience with students here.

More Information

edtech-team-photo-1EdTech is available for support. Take some time to check out edtech.psdschools.org to see what tech you can reserve and how EdTech Facilitators can support you when trying new tech in your classroom.

PBL @ Shepardson STEM Elementary

creativespaceThis year Shepardson STEM elementary has added another facet to its approach to inquiry-based learning: Problem-Based-Learning. A team of primary, intermediate, and encore teachers attended a week of hands-on training with their partner school, STEM Launch in Denver to experience the concept first-hand. Now their efforts have circled back around to the classroom. Each grade level has identified a problem that pertains to their specific grade level standards and posed it to their students. Then each class spent six weeks investigating the problem, brainstorming solutions, and preparing to pitch their solutions to a panel of community experts with a stake in the solution. Here are the problems they’ve tackled this semester:

 school_logoKindergarten: learning to work together

First Grade: safety concerns in the drop-off/pick-up lanes

Second Grade: library design partnership

Third Grade: looking at ways to mitigate the impact of the drought we’ve been experiencing

Fourth Grade: reducing the amount of waste produced at Houska Garage/Dellenbach Chevrolet/Lee’s Cyclery

Fifth Grade: problems related to energy consumption at the CSU Mountain Campus

 Shepardson PBL/STEM Highlights:

Students had the opportunity to meet with experts as they gathered information to make intelligent decisions. For example, Second Graders got a virtual tour of the Council Tree Public Library to see features of the latest design and a visit to the Old Town Public Library in-person. They were able to ask questions to help them with their design ideas. The following week, the architects who had designed the library came to school and met with the students to explore the connection between imagination and design to create unique and welcoming spaces.

Problem based learning is providing relevance for what students are learning in school.

Why is it important to be able to communicate, to read, to solve problems, to collaborate?

An interview with Wayne Thornes, Assistant Principal, Shepardson STEM Elementary School

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AP Wayne Thornes

When students are working together to solve these authentic problems, engaged in working not just with their peers and teachers, but also with people throughout our community, they begin to make the connections between what they are learning and why that material is important to know.

PBL has provided a meaningful avenue for our wider community to become involved in our students’ education – not just as volunteers to support the teacher, but as experts sharing their own passions and knowledge with students.
We’ve just started PBL, but we’re already seeing the following benefits:
  • high levels of engagement from students
  • an increase in student confidence
  • higher levels of collaboration & cooperation
  • better communication skills
  • more real-life experiences for students/increased experiential learning
  • increased community engagement
It’s too soon to see this, but we’re hoping to see:
  • higher achievement
  • fewer disciplinary issues
  • fewer absences
One of our parents, after watching PBL happen (with kids that weren’t hers!) said: “I’ve been flying high knowing that our school is focused on problem based learning and that our six and seven-year-olds are seeking actionable solutions to real day-to-day puzzles. What better preparation can they have for growing up?”