Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Student Leadership via EdTech Playgrounds

What do you get when you recruit students who share a love for technology and you provide a space where individuals can play? An EdTech Playground. EdTech Playgrounds provide opportunities for collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. It is a space where learners of all ages can learn and play.

What is it?
An EdTech Playground is a mobile space that can be set up in small or large areas. The playground areas consists of educational technology that is interactive, engaging, and is entirely hands-on learning. The resources that are featured in our EdTech Playgrounds come directly from our classrooms and libraries. The resources range from coding, drawing, dancing, virtual trips, and digital citizenship.

Who manages it?
Our student leaders also known as @LyfordTechSquad select the tech they want to feature and they manage the stations. The past couple of years they have featured all of OSMO’s apps, Quiver Augmented Reality, Green Screen by DoInk, GoNoodle, How To Social Media (Digital Citizenship), Lego Robotics, Wonder Workshop’s Dash & Dot, Virtual Reality with Google Cardboard & View-Master Lyford CISD is a 1:1 iPad initiative district and these resources have integrated seamlessly with the Apple technology.

When is it used?
The EdTech Playground is set up during campus or district-wide events. Our district provides an annual Tech Bash conference for teachers and paraprofessionals. The stations are setup in the library, and teachers rotate through the stations to learn from the Tech Squad students. District-wide events such as the Open House Technology Showcase, provides the opportunity for the Tech Squad students to engage parents with the experience on what educational technology looks like in the classrooms.

Why should our school start?
“I feel proud that I get to teach a grown up” was a memorable comment made by a 3rd grade Tech Squad student when she taught a teacher how to code on the iPad using OSMO’s Awbie coding commands. The leadership opportunities that are provided when a student leads a station is monumental. Students build presentation skills, leadership skills, and educational technology fluency. The Tech Squad students have presented their EdTech Playgrounds at local and regional conferences. They’ve networked with students and teachers across South Texas.

Where do I begin?
It all begins with a motivated adult. It can be a teacher, a Librarian or a Tech Coach. Our Tech Squad applications are made available at the beginning of the school year to students in 3rd - 12th grade. Their application is a Google Form resume, one educational reference, and a digital artifact that showcases their skills. The next step is to gather educational technology that is available in the campus classrooms or the campus libraries. At times you may find that some EdTech resources have been sitting in a box unused because no one has had the time to figure it out. The final step is the training: students meet with that motivated adult, test out the resources, and select the station they will present on. The Tech Squad leadership areas consist of more than just the EdTech Playgrounds, but we’ll leave that for another post.

Betsy Vela
M.Ed. Instructional Technology Coach
Apple Distinguished Educator 2017
Google Certified Educator
Twitter: @betzvela

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