Tech Night Replaces Traditional Open House in Oregon School
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Instead of a traditional open house, a 564-student school in Oregon recently ran its first "technology night," to show its community of families how it was using technology in the classroom. Juniper Elementary School in Bend began its adoption of technology in 2006 when it formally became a technology magnet school within Bend-La Pine Schools.
The school's vision is to use technology to "maximize student engagement, increase feedback for growth, extend differentiation and prepare our students for the changing future." Teachers spend "many hours" in professional training and development in technology to increase their "tech fluency."
Juniper is an Apple Distinguished School and currently has two "Apple Distinguished Educators" on staff, in addition to the teacher — Heather Anderson — named 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year. Every grade between kindergarten and fifth uses technology with curriculum. Students in grades 3-5 have their own Apple iPads. The school uses Edmodo as a learning management system. Parents can view day-to-day academic progress through mobile app ParentVUE, and students can stay on top of school events, assignments, tests and their progress through StudentVUE, both from Edupoint Educational Systems. Many, though not all teachers, also maintain classroom Web sites and use a myriad of individually chosen apps. On Fridays the school opens up two maker spaces during lunch time where students can take apart office and household items and use non-power tools, cardboard and recyclables to build things.
For the tech night, local news coverage interviewed fourth grade teacher Kathi Smith-Boyle, who told a reporter that educators within her school are heavily involved in technology decision-making, "and we've gotten really good at seeing what's new out there and how we can incorporate it into our curriculum as part of our everyday education."
Added nine-year-old Mollie Wagnon, there's more to tablet access than simply reading digital versions of books: "We saved the books into PDFs, and then we shared it out as a video, and we put it into iMovie."
Principal Dan Wolnick is impressed by the use of technology for "quick feedback" by teachers and students. "Students — they want to know how they're doing when they're working on something, and technology allows us to speed up that feedback cycle, so they can get information back and we use that, and the students use that for improvement."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.