School’s out, so you might imagine that La Cañada Unified School District’s teachers are kicking back on a beach somewhere, sleeping in or catching up on their favorite TV shows — but sitting attentively in classrooms at Arcadia High School?
Well, yes. A handful of LCUSD representatives participated in the annual Arcadia Innovation Summit last week. They were there either to absorb important information related to technology in education, or to give it away.
“We have some awesome teachers,” said David Pasziewicz, an instructional technology specialist. “So this is a good opportunity to share a lot of the really innovative work our teachers have been doing in class.
“Technology has swept across schools very quickly in the past five years,” Pasziewicz added. “In a way, it’s always been there, but now it’s democratized even more. Chromebooks are cheap, apps are free, so we’re asking ourselves, ‘How does this fit with regular instruction?’”
The Arcadia Innovation Summit, a one-day professional development event, sought to provide answers.
More than 850 educators from as far away as San Diego and Northern California attended the free all-day event, where Jamie Lewsadder, LCUSD’s chief technology officer, led three sessions. She lectured about incorporating routines and tech; exploring concepts of coding as a way to begin the writing process; and creating a clear tech roadmap — the latter of which Pasziewicz helped to lead.
They also were invited to team up and lead a three-hour workshop at the prestigious International Society for Technology in Education conference this week in San Antonio. But first, on Friday, they talked to teachers about how to go about interpreting ISTE standards as they embark on a path that will use tech to add value to their schools.
Pasziewicz also hosted a session focused on tech and special education with Palm Crest Elementary School teacher Lauren Ciulla, as well as another course about creating a culture of digital citizenship with Lindsay Staley, a technology integrationist.
PCR teachers Lara Berdahl and Jeanine Bentz also hosted sessions sharing some of their in-class discoveries.
Pasziewicz and Staley advocated for open, honest discussions with students about how they use tech: “There’s not usually a right or wrong answer,” Staley said. “Let them know at the beginning, ‘We’re not here to judge you, we’re having this discussion for you.’
They also stressed the importance of getting teachers and parents to buy in to the importance of digital citizenship, a notion that covers everything from “cyber-relationships” to recognizing bias on news sites. Staley and Pasziewicz encouraged parent outreach, either at back-to-school settings or in specialized events such as the multi-night Parent Tech Academy that LCUSD hosted last year.
“This is very, very important for all of us,” Pasziewicz told the 26 educators who filled their class. “We don’t teach them how to push buttons; we’re teaching them how to use technology in the right way, in a responsible way.
“Because if we don’t teach them these skills, no one will,” he said.
In an earlier session Lewsadder said she sees those efforts to emphasize citizenship working in LCUSD, relaying a story about an elementary school student working on a report about Wilt Chamberlain. He’d come across a portion of the famous basketball player’s biography that was not suitable for school, but instead of sharing it with his classmates, he brought it to his teacher’s attention.
Lewsadder was addressing elementary school, middle school and high school teachers, as well as technology specialists and a librarian in her discussion entitled “Thinking Routines With Technology.”
She shared strategies for increasing tech mindfulness in the classroom, such as incorporating an app called Padlet, which allows real-time class-wide student responses.
“I’ve known about these strategies, but I just never really put them into my classroom,” said Catherine Tran, a 7th-grade math teacher at L.A. Unified’s King Middle School. “I’ve used Padlet before, I’ve just never used it in the classroom, so that was interesting.”
That was the point of the event, where hundreds of teachers swapped ideas, for free, on their free time.
“Hats off to Arcadia, this is so organized, they just did a phenomenal job,” Staley said. “And anybody who thinks teachers just want this job to be off during the summer, clearly has never been friends with or lived with a teacher. This is really, really incredible.”