Monday, September 30, 2013

Build it and the money will come...

When I think about technology use at Detroit School of Arts (DSA) I think about the outdated netbooks that students have access to, the tv in the classroom that isn't connected to anything, and the overhead projector that my mentor teacher uses on occasion.  It doesn't seem like there is much room for innovation, but then I heard from Pete Pasque.

Pete is one of the founding teachers at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor.  He came to class to speak to us about all of the ways teachers are helping students organize their digital lives.  Skyline is doing amazing things when it comes to integrating technology into the curriculum.  Each class has its own Google page and students can organize and manage who they share their work with.  Students have the opportunity to show teachers their research process through Google docs and pages and they can even collaborate with other students.  This digital world that has been created at Skyline is truly amazing, but all I kept thinking was: how could this be implemented at DSA?

Then Pete told us about his experience as a beginning teacher in a wood shop class with outdated technology.  He described how the students were able to utilize the technology that was there in order to demonstrate to the administration the need for updated materials.  By the end of the year, the room was filled with new computers and technology to use in the classroom.

This story was inspirational to me, as I could see what I needed to do in order to update the current technology at DSA.  I simply had to make use of the materials given to me in an innovative way.   If you use the technology and build up the infrastructure, the funding will come.

It is much easier to write a grant for something that is already taking place than to start from scratch.  If you can show someone what you can do with what you have, imagine what you can do with what you don't.  After listening to Pete, I am more motivated to incorporate the given technology into my lessons instead of ignoring it.    It is important for students to learn 21st century technology skills no matter what the medium is that you have to teach it with.


  1. Rachael! I too was really inspired when Pete talked about how he started a project with his students and was able to use the results of that project to obtain grants for more computers and other technology. It reminded me of how Rory convinced people to get him chrome books for the students in his class. Instead of teachers and students complaining about the lack of technology and funding in the school, students and teachers can take ownership and responsibility themselves by starting these types of innovative projects and use the results as a proposal for a grant. I think it's awesome how this could not only bring new technology to the school, but also make students more engaged in their school work by giving them ownership of the problems within the school. I also think it's great how it conveys a message to students that they do have the power to make a difference in their school.

  2. Do you have any ideas yet? What sort of science class are you in? I am imagining the science of "Macgyver" (sorry for the dated TV reference). There are all sorts of ways to explore natural phenomena in the everyday items around us.

  3. Rachael,

    I think this is extremely well said. As teachers we have to be creative in many ways in our classrooms; lesson planning, activities, group facilitating...why don't more teachers get creative with the technology they have too? I think your point about utilizing what you already have, and writing a grant to get funding to make it even better, than starting from scratch is relevant to many of our schools. In many classrooms there are many different types of technologies available, but because of lack of knowledge of how to implement them, they rarely get used - which is the exact opposite of what technology funding is supposed to be doing. I think Pete's story was motivational and opened my eyes to the fact that teachers can be innovative with what they have and find ways to create a 21st century classroom while doing so. I also think it is great that he was able to get the students involved in this problem solving process.