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CUE Leaders Make National Impact: Members Educate Legislators and Policymakers in D.C.

Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez, Micah Studer, and CUE CEO Mike Lawrence

A delegation of educators traveled to Washington D.C. to have their voices heard and to advocate for students and technology last week in the nation’s capitol. The focus of the advocacy efforts was on support for E-rate, LifeLine Program, Student Data and Privacy, and fully funding Title IV of ESSA.

CUE members Pam Hernandez (SLOCUE) and Micah Studer (CapCUE) joined CEO Mike Lawrence and Legislative Policy Consultant John Cradler as part of the Ed Tech Advocacy and Policy Summit hosted by ISTE, CoSN and SETDA with support from SIIA, the Center for Digital Education and Discovery Education. CETPA Board Treasurer Peter Skibitzki and Ruthmary Cradler of Educational Support Systems further enhanced California’s representation. 

The CUE delegation met with the Congressional Offices of Dianne Feinstein (D), Kamala Harris (D), Mark DeSaulnier (D), Jimmy Panetta (D), Ed Royce (R), Doris Matsui (D), Jackie Speier (D) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Officials from the Office of Education Technology at the U.S. Department of Education and the Library of Congress also received the CUE delegation for meetings that took place in advance of the Summit.

Highlighting the challenges of limited broadband access in America’s rural schools and providing specific examples of the type of learning that can be done when you have a strong teacher, the right tools and a strong internet infrastructure –  the team told stories of the digital divide between large and small rural school districts in California, the homework gap and creating learning experiences that not only impact student academic achievement, but also inspire them to learn more and open up the world of what is possible.

The work of Denise Hardoy, middle school science teacher and CUE member, from San Antonio Elementary School in Lockwood was highlighted. Denise and her students have spent the year working on a collaborative project with a neighboring school district, Rutgers University, Cal State Monterey Bay and Polar Scientists from the Palmer Station in Antarctica. Under her guidance and with access to connectivity, the students were able to meet virtually with the polar scientists to guide their research efforts. This real world learning –  that follows the NGSS standards –  allowed students to learn how to collect and use data from live video feeds of penguins in Antarctica.  

From Winters Joint Unified School District in Northern California, the work of the 1:1 Chromebook take-home program was highlighted in its work of closing the homework gap. Additionally, Winters highlighted Erate as one of the key factors in the evolution into a technology pioneers who advocate for connectivity across our communities as well as access to devices for all families.

Three of the five commissioner seats on the FCC are filled right now. Commissioners Ajit Pai, and Mignon Clyburn sent representatives who shared their support of E-rate and Lifeline. Commissioner Michael O’Reilly met personally with the group and spoke to his belief that schools are purchasing too much broadband and need to be monitored for wasteful spending. The story of San Antonio Elementary’s shared 100 MBs of broadband with four other rural school districts was used to highlight the continued need for investment in the broadband infrastructure for school districts that  continue to be underserved.

Commissioner O’Reilly shared his belief  that a good teacher and a textbook are all that classrooms need and that technology is no replacement. The larger advocacy team that included members from ISTE, COSN and SETDA provided examples of how a strong teacher with access to the internet and technology tools is able to enhance the learning experience for students.

Micah Studer described the event as “life-changing” as it has ignited a passion in him for advocacy for our students. Most importantly, he sees that the work of education advocates are more relevant now than ever as even a bipartisan issue such as education is becoming increasingly polarized. “We must come together on the common ground of education as pivotal to the creation of a robust democratic society. Schools are the institutions from which we will craft our future. We are all products of the beliefs and passions of those that came before us and we owe it to the next generation to equip them with the tools, skills, and experiences to engage with careers and professions that do not yet exist, in a global economy that values versatility and the ability to adapt as a key skill set for success.”

Pam Hernandez was grateful for the opportunity to share the story of her school district on Capitol Hill and with the FCC. She appreciated being able to advocate for the continuing needs of small rural school districts across the country. “The digital divide is significant,” commented Hernandez, “There is a moral imperative to provide equal access to current technology to support instruction that prepares each of today’s students for their tomorrow. Today’s student needs to be adaptable to to enter a society in which the demands and the needs of the work force will continue to evolve. Additionally, today’s student needs to be prepared for citizenship in a society with changing rules as they participate in a world of interactive digital and social media. Our students need to be ready to participate as productive citizens in a world built on the founding principles of our forefathers as well as being able to navigate the world of global and digital citizenship.”

Micah Studer is the Coordinator of Educational and Informational Technology Services for the Winters Joint Unified School District. He received his B.A. from Sacramento State University, Two M.A. degrees in Educational Technology and Educational Leadership from Touro University, and is currently working on completing his Ed.D. at University of California, Davis. He has a diverse background in teaching and educational leadership spending his teaching career teaching science and English in inner city schools, becoming a dean of students before moving to Winters as an Assistant Principal to launch the district’s 1:1 program. Micah additionally serves on the CUE Legislative Advocacy Committee promoting policies of access to technology for all students and families. He currently lives in Vacaville with his wife Heidi and their four children.

Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez is the Superintendent of the San Antonio Union Elementary School District, co-chair of the CUE Admin Learning Network and vice-president of SLOCUE.

To BOLDly Go

For months, there has been a buzz of excitement leading up to CUE BOLD. This event has been promoted as something new, something different. “The premier lesson design event for the West Coast” did not disappoint. Trying to capture the energy and excitement from CUE BOLD was like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

The mission of CUE BOLD was to focus “the symbiotic relationship of learning environment design, digital learning systems, and rethinking traditional lesson design as the essential components.” More than 200 educators gathered to take a deep dive into the world of blended and online lesson design. CUE BOLD covered three separate strands- the Lesson Builders Fair, BOLD Classrooms, and the Classroom Simulator.

Jon Corippo gets the party started

I had the privilege of being part of the CUE BOLD faculty. What an honor to be part of a team of visionary educators who are thinking outside the box when it comes to remixing lesson designs, integrating technology, and considering how the physical classroom environment impacts teaching and learning.  I’ve presented at CUE events before but BOLD took PD to a whole new level for me, both as a presenter and as an educator.

Faculty Fun

In the Lesson Builders Fair and panel sessions, BOLD faculty used the Madeline Hunter 7 Step Lesson Design model to remix and shift lesson design and pedagogy, making it more relevant to 21st-century practices. Over 40 sessions were presented, allowing educators to see how to take lessons to the next level. During the panel sessions, lead learners guided the room through a lesson redesign using the same template and what happened during those sessions was like watching a magic show. Starting with a general topic or curricular area, participants in the room worked together to remix a lesson. The end results were incredible, combining the very best of pedagogy and practice. Beyond that, the conversations that took place during the panels were an additional spark that ignited brand new mindsets and amped up the excitement for trying out new things in the classroom.

Matt Miller, author of Ditch that Textbook said it best in his own CUE BOLD reflection, “We can’t keep teaching the same old way and just plug technology in. We have to change the way that we teach. And sometimes, a new twist on an old idea can give us the spark of inspiration that we need.”

The panel sessions were a highlight of the weekend for me as well as many of the other presenters. David Platt, friend and fellow CUE BOLD faculty loved the discussions. “In the panels, participants worked with CUE Lead Learners to dissect lessons and make them relevant for today (think TPACK here) from anticipatory set to closure. The end goal: lessons highlighting how technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge work in sync to bring out the best in our students and ourselves.”

Ed Campos and Erin Klein knocked it out of the park as leads in the BOLD Classrooms strand. Their sessions helped showcase the possibilities for flexible learning spaces. You need to check out this Classroom Cribs #CUEBOLD 360º video showcasing one of the redesigned learning spaces at Burton Valley Elementary School that was completed for CUE BOLD. Another jaw drop moment from the BOLD Classrooms strand came when Erin shared that she does not have a teacher desk – instead she carries her supplies around in a basket and is completely mobile in the classroom. BOOM. That’s a major shift that allows teachers to gain more flexibility and freedom in their learning environment.  As promised, this strand was not about fantasy classrooms. The BOLD Classrooms strand showed us how we can make affordable changes that affect learning and would not have been possible without generous sponsors.  A great big thank you needs to go out to DecoTech Systems, Diversitrack, and Meteor for showing us what impact an environment has and what class

Matt Miller and adoring fans

rooms can be like when we think outside the box and break away from “cemetery style” seating. Without your partnership, the BOLD Classrooms strand would not have come to life the way it did. Thank you! And thank you for donating what was given to the school BOLD was held at. Shout-out to our other sponsors- Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

The Classroom Simulator strand was another way for BOLD educators to experience top learning systems as students and teachers in a hands-on setting. Apple Classroom and iPad, Google Classroom and Chromebook, and Microsoft Classroom and Surface Tablet were all represented in simulations for attendees to explore.  This strand provided a powerful opportunity to really dig in and use these tools in a one to one classroom simulation. We got to experience the workflow from different perspectives, have the chance to go hands-on and engage in conversations with Apple, Google, and Microsoft representatives. This strand was a powerful way for those who are making decisions about which platforms and devices to use to really experience what it would look like in a classroom setting. I know that I learn best when I get to actually do something.  The Classroom Simulator let folks do just that with devices and programs that drive workflow, collaboration, and maximize the potential for teaching and learning in one to one environments.

Each strand did not disappoint. The conversations that were started during the sessions carried out to the hallways and are being brought back to classrooms throughout California. Overheard in the hallways in between sessions were comments like “I can do this tomorrow” and  “I didn’t need the step by step directions. I just needed next level. CUE BOLD had that for me.” During #CUEchat the following Tuesday night, Denise Douglas shared this, “#CUEBold was about the art of teaching. The focus wasn’t on the shiny of tech. It was about making learning better!”

There is so much work done behind the scenes to get ready for an event like CUE BOLD.  I need to share a few words of gratitude for some very special people – folks who worked for many months to make sure this event was a success. First, thank you to Lindsey Blass, who organized all of the logistics to make BOLD happen. Things like organizing speakers, sessions, marketing and even the awesome BOLD graphics. She is a true rockstar and we appreciate all she did to make this weekend ROCK!  Also, a BIG thank you to the one and only Danielle Forst, who makes all of the professional learning opportunities with CUE happen! Danielle organized all of the travel and lodging for out of town guests, organized the schedule so we all knew what was happening, and spent countless hours to make sure we were all ready to be BOLD! Finally, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Lisa DeLapo, Director of Innovation, Design and Technology for Lafayette School District, the location of this CUE BOLD event for handling all of the classroom logistics, helping facilitate all of the work done for the BOLD Classrooms redesign, shipping all of the gear needed for the weekend, and coordinating all the things that had to happen behind the scenes. These three amazing ladies and many others helped make this weekend what it was. Thank you for everything you did to make CUE BOLD happen.

If you missed CUE BOLD this time, don’t worry. You can catch my  #CUEBOLD Day 1 Snapchat Story and my #CUEBOLD Day 2 Snapchat Story on YouTube. You’ll get just a glimpse of the excitement, energy and awesome learning that took place. You can also view the Storify that was put together by Amanda Haughs, one of the Social Media Directors for CUE BOLD. All of the presenter resources and slides from the Lesson Builders Fair can be found at cue.tc/BOLDresources.

I’m already excited for CUE BOLD 2018.

Ann Kozma is a Tech Innovation TOSA in Fullerton, CA. She is passionate about education technology and enjoys helping others learn how to integrate tech to transform teaching and learning. Ann is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Leading Edge Certified as a Professional Learning Leader, and is a CUE Rockstar Lead Learner. She was a primary classroom teacher for 10 years and taught First Grade in a 1:1 iPad classroom for 4 years before moving into her position as a Teacher on Special Assignment.  Ann occasionally blogs at techtravelteach.com and believes that play is our brain’s favorite way of learning. You can connect with Ann on Twitter, Snapchat, and Insta @annkozma723.

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