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Seeing is Believing: When Teachers Showcase Projects, Everyone Wins.

Man with Megaphone

It’s 6 pm on a Tuesday evening in May and an excited sixth-grade student is vehemently explaining to a group of parents how green screen technology works, while other teachers and district administrators are asking the student’s teacher how they accomplished such a feat. This wonderful reality happened at our first TRIFORCE Teacher Showcase.

This was the culminating experience for an amazing group of teachers who were asked to use technology standards to create, document and share a technology-rich project with colleges, parents and the community. This group, called the TRIFORCE, dreamt up and implemented their project (think Google Innovator) throughout the year then displayed and explained their teaching methods and student products symposium style. That night, the room was buzzing and bubbling with excitement and energy.

Students and teachers at a podium

When asked about the meaning of this project and showcase one TRIFORCE teacher wrote:

“HUGE impact! What a wonderful, collaborative experience to have my students dig into the learning, use the tools interactively, and then teach me, other students, and other educators on how to use the tools and do the project.  They extended their own and my learning and use of the tools.”

We know the benefits of showcasing students and student work. However, showcasing the “behind the scenes” work teachers do along with their student work can accomplish several things at once. One, it is a great alternative to traditional professional learning.  As teachers and admin walk around the room, they see what was possible from the students themselves and can ask as many questions of the teachers as they want. It is quite of opposite of a “sit and get” and more of a “see and believe” Second, the teachers themselves benefit greatly by pushing themselves a little farther than normal knowing their projects will be seen by colleges and others. Third, the whole event adds more fuel to the fire of a sharing culture versus a closed-door culture. A TRIFORCE member wrote in reflection, “Teachers have heard from the students and from me what we have been up to and are coming to me to find out how they can do similar things and spread the word.”

The whole idea started with identifying the need for grade specific guidance in technology in our district. We decided a framework of standards would be the backbone but teachers would also need resources and visual examples to “see” it. Seeing is believing. So we assembled a team of K-12 teachers from all technology comfortability levels. We showed them a simple scope and sequence of standards distilled from the ISTE standards for students and Common Sense Media. The vision was that the projects they would create would become the examples that other teachers in our district can view at the showcase and later through our website. Using a guiding document as a framework and having access to learning in the form of google classroom assignments, teachers were able to dream up interesting and varied projects. However, it was the culminating showcase event itself that truly connected the learning

“I saw other people’s projects and plan on making online portfolios, using green screens and video to enhance the student experience next year, just to name a few new strategies I would like to try because of projects.” wrote a participating teacher.

I have never been more sold on the benefits of sharing with an authentic audience for students and adults alike.

 


Currently, Luke Machado is the Coordinator of Educational Technology for Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, CA. His mission is to accept challenges and move forward while maintaining responsibility for himself and others. He is interested in how thoughtful educational technology can improve the lives of everyone. He also serves as VP of Programs for CapCUE, an affiliate of CUE, is a Google Certified Trainer, CUE Rockstar Faculty and Lead Learner and Common Sense Media Ambassador. Find Luke at @1LukeMachado

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Luke Machado

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