Teachers at Trinity School, an independent elementary school (preschool through 5th grade) in Menlo Park, are taking the lead in working with educational technology and software developers to evaluate, beta test, and provide real world classroom feedback for the development of new tools.
When integrated effectively, technology allows teachers to craft powerful learning activities that guide students to work collaboratively in the discovery, creation, and sharing of their work. That means less “lecture” time and more engaged application-based learning. But it’s important to find the right tools in the myriad of choices available in the marketplace.
Trinity’s fourth grade teacher Joan Young (pictured) is a Teacher in Residence (TIR) with Palo Alto-based Imagine K12, an educational technology incubator. TIRs collaborate with Imagine K12 startups to shape their products from the earliest stages to ensure their tools provide the value educators are seeking for their classrooms.
“I first met one of the Imagine K12 founders, Tim Brady, in the summer of 2011,” says Joan. “From my past experience, a lot of edutech companies are out there trying to solve problems that they don’t understand because they’re techies not teachers. One of the things I liked about working with the Imagine K12 startups is that many of their teams have teachers on them — they’re making an effort to hear the teacher’s voice.
“One challenge we face as teachers is rolling out a new tech tool to 20 kids all at once. Because a lot of edutech companies haven’t walked in our shoes, they don’t understand the barriers as well as the needs.”
Through active involvement with educational developers, Trinity School teachers like Joan are able to identify best-in-class and grade‐level appropriate tools for students to deepen their knowledge through interactive learning and create exciting multimedia presentations, digital storyboards, photo journals, blogs, educational videos, and more.
Students no longer produce work just for their teacher. Students now share their work with classmates, their school, and student‐appropriate closed communities (even when global). Sharing their work beyond classroom walls requires students to understand, write, and create for these broader, authentic audiences.
Joan says her reward in working with Imagine 12 companies is that the resulting products will reflect more of what students need. “It’s also given me a window into the ins and outs of starting something new,” she says. “But bottom line, the satisfaction I receive results from the success of our students.”
Photo by Irene Searles