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Technology in the Classroom

Technology is Integral to Preparing Our Students for Future Success

Student Using Dash Robots

Technology in the classroom is now as common as a pencil was 50 years ago. It is the fabric that weaves academics together at every grade level throughout Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD).

The classroom of today involves flexible learning environments, seamless integration of technology, space for collaboration, and an ever-increasing digital connectedness that has never before existed. Teachers are no longer confined to the front of the classroom, presenting lessons in a lecture style. With an iPad in hand, teachers are free to move around the classroom, collaborate with students and provide tailored instruction to individual students or small groups. Students in turn are able to share and collaborate in real-time on documents and lessons from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Skills such as coding, critical and logical thinking, problem solving, sequencing, and math are being taught at all grade levels using sophisticated technology and curriculum to prepare students for the unforeseen jobs of the future.

Students learn to program Dash robots at the elementary level and learn to manipulate blocks of code in logical sequences to get the robots to perform specific tasks. As students advance their skills and progress through grade levels, they learn to operate the more intricate VEX robots. Students design and build the robots while learning and mastering more complex coding techniques. With an emphasis on access to technology, our district currently has more than 430 robots available to provide students with hands-on, tangible learning experiences. This number of robots however, pales in comparison to the nearly 16,000 Chromebooks in the hands of students and staff throughout our district.

In Fall 2016, our district began implementing a Chromebook initiative that will, over time, provide one-to-one digital access for all students in grades 3 through 12. The Chromebook initiative began with the Estancia zone two years ago and expanded to Newport Harbor zone this year. It is anticipated that the Costa Mesa and Corona del Mar zones will follow in subsequent years. The Chromebook provides a digital bridge to many web-based programs that students can access anytime, anywhere. Across the district student usage varies from school to school, classroom to classroom and even student to student.

NMUSD also is partnering with local industry leaders, colleges, and universities to provide students with skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing employment landscape. Students in our Career Technical Education courses such as Design Visual and Media Arts, Business Management, Engineering Design, and Food Service and Hospitality participate in skill-based classes that are also college prep
(a-g.). Additionally, students have the option to grow their resumes and portfolios for college and employment by gaining certifications and completing apprenticeship programs while in high school.

To support this rapidly changing, technology-driven educational environment classrooms previously used for computer labs and other open spaces are being converted into Makerspaces across our district. In these creative spaces, students can collaborate and learn skills such as engineering, design, robotics, computer integrated manufacturing, computer software design, and more. The innovation labs are packed with advanced technology such as wind tunnels for aerospace, lathes and mills for computer integrated manufacturing, table saws, miter saws and skill saws for residential and commercial construction, 3-D printers for design and modeling and for computer-aided design (CAD). Advanced tools for engineering, construction, aerospace, and automotive design such as three dimensional augmented welding, robot arms, and laser scanners provide unique learning opportunities for students interested in learning more about this technology. Of course, these labs are configured differently for elementary than they are at the higher grade levels and they are customizable to meet the needs of each school.

Ensign Intermediate, Costa Mesa Middle School, and TeWinkle Middle School each have Makerspaces. Their elective curriculum focuses on design, robotics, flight and space, and the medical industry which are taught through hands-on tangible learning experiences. Newport Harbor and Costa Mesa High schools are creating broadcast and film programs. Estancia, Costa Mesa, and Corona del Mar High Schools have Digital Media Arts programs which specialize in animation, graphic design, and multimedia productions. Throughout our district our students are given access to the latest technology and curriculum that supports their future careers.

Along with many technology tools, we focus tremendous energy on training staff and parents. Teachers district-wide are trained on how to effectively use devices as teaching tools. Our Digital Fellows program helps bridge this gap. Digital Fellows are teachers from our district that are interested in using more technology and want to serve as champions and coaches for other teachers to implement technology integration. The first year of the program is focused on supporting the fellow as they re-design lessons using technology. During the second year, fellows learn how to coach and support their colleagues at their site. We currently have 35 Digital Fellows in the field and are working toward having at least one Digital Fellow at each school site.

Parents are not left out of this digital revolution. Our district educates parents on what to expect when their student brings home a chromebook. Mandatory parent orientations provide parents with information and expectations surrounding the use of technology and digital citizenship. Students and parents are offered resources on digital citizenship to learn how to be cyber safe at home using safeguards and web filtering.

The pace of technology is advancing quickly. Although our classrooms are at different stages in this technology revolution, we are focused on ensuring that all students and staff have access to purposeful, functioning technology. We are preparing students for jobs of the future and are giving teachers the tools and training to be successful in this pursuit.