Saturday, March 29, 2008

SUHSD TIMAC: Meetings #2 and #3

The second meeting for the Shasta Union High School District (SUHSD) TIMAC was held on February 23, 2008 at North State Independence High School (NSIHS). Program administrator Jim Newell facilitated the first two hours of our meeting during which, such topics of discussion included current uses of technology by our members, mentee/mentor project ideas, and feedback from the previous assignment (members were to visit a website and review it for use and relevance).

During the second part of our meeting, Justin Loh led the group in an investigation into the use of podcasting in education (see Wikipedia article on podcast). Using the website, all in attendance were able to go through the procedure of easily creating a podcast that could be used in a variety of ways inside the classroom from recording a lecture to providing a new kind of project for students to complete and share with others. Though there were some technical difficulties here and there, they were not enough to prevent our members coming away with a new and exciting resource to bring into the classroom.

The third meeting for the SUHSD TIMAC was held on March 15, 2008 at NSIHS. Jim Newell wasted no time by making a point about teacher and student-built websites and the need to recognize them as representations of our schools and culture. The ideal is that by empowering teachers with the knowledge of how to build web pages, teachers will be able to more effectively communicate with students and parents by posting homework, notes, and class lectures on an effectively designed web site; all the while proving to the world that he/she is becoming a true navigator of technology.

Next, Justin Loh presented to the group three of the most popular website hosts/builders around: Yahoo! GeoCities, GooglePages, and Blogger (see Wikipedia article on blog). After providing an overview of each of the three, including their differences and similarities, each member was then able to choose a site based on his/her own personality and preferences; in almost equal thirds, several chose Yahoo! GeoCities, several chose GooglePages, and others chose Blogger. Plenty of time was given for discovery learning as these teachers learned how easy it was to have a site up and running within minutes. In fact, many teachers immediately started synergizing different resources by posting a link to their respective podcast (from the previous meeting) on their new page! Furthermore, teachers who started with one site such as Blogger moved on to GooglePages for comparison’s sake in order to see which one best suited their needs. When our time came to an end for this activity, each teacher came away with a webpage to do with as they saw fit for his/her classroom.

Our group took a brief field trip up to our district’s IT department where we met with IT Director Mike Vincelli ,who was happy to show us the inner workings of one of the most advanced IT departments in Northern California. After this, Mr. Vincelli answered questions from the group ranging from the district’s plans for future technology investments and computer use policies. This concluded our third successful meeting of the SUHSD TIMAC.

With the school year reaching its climax and thus the amount of time that is demanded from each teacher, we are all very pleased and proud of the continued determination, passion, and participation by each of our members. Our attendance continues to be near perfect just as it was when we began in January. So it is with high spirits that we look forward to a fourth and equally successful meeting in April.

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