The San Diego Unified School District Educational Technology Department (EdTech) acknowledges educators who demonstrate leadership with the implementation of digital tools in the classroom. This month EdTech showcased Mrs. Hause, a 6th grade teacher at Dana Middle. Mrs. Hause teaches math, social studies, and our technology support elective. Mrs. Hause is a member of our Instructional Leadership team and takes an active role in assisting fellow educators as they implement the use of digital tools in their classroom.
We are proud of the work Mrs. Hause does to support the instructional program at Dana. The text of the article can be found below. Please click this link to download a PDF of the article.
It is the first week of school. Ms. Hause stands outside of her classroom greeting students who are seated and standing around a lunch table. She chats with them briefly about what to expect when they enter the classroom. She the entices them with the prospect of using the class netbooks, “Today we are going to get our computers out, review the device pledge, and try logging in. Come on in, let’s get started!” Dena then welcomes each student as they enter the room. Any observer could tell that Dena is a pro at managing her students and the i21 technology in the classroom.
Students hustle to their seats, eager to take out their assigned netbook for the first time. To support student engagement and understanding, Dena has prepared an AcrtivInspire flipchart, the first page hosting a brief list of expectations for device pick-up procedures. These directions are reviewed and students are encouraged to explain the expectations to partners at their desk. Dena then assigns each student a device by giving them a number, guiding them to write their number down in a safe place, and to always pick up the same device each day. Each student practices picking up, carrying, and inspecting their device. Students are also expected to tuck the power cord into the cart, and immediately report any concerns to the teacher, while Dena compliments good practices.
As the lesson progresses, students receive a copy of the digital citizenship pledge (see Informational Links on page 3 of this article). As the pledge is reviewed, students reveal what these policies mean, giving definitions and examples. As the discussion continues, Dena captures key concepts from the discussion and charts them into the flipchart, which can later be posted in Dena’s My Big Campus class Group or somewhere around her room. Additionally, Dena provides students with real-life situations, posing the question to the students . . . What if this happened? What would you do? How could you get the help you need? Students readily discuss possibilities and share solutions to a variety of situations, including class behavior, device maintenance, and digital citizenship.
After students review and sign the Student Device Pledge, Dena briefly reviews directions with students for picking up devices and returning to their desks. In small groups, students are directed to pick up their netbooks, return to their desks, turn the devices on, and log in. Students efficiently move through the entire process, and within just a couple of minutes, all students are seated at their desks, logging into their devices for the first time.
The remainder of the day proceeds as expected. Students are on task, engaged, and excited. And before students are excused for the day, Dena models how to properly shut down their devices and return them to the cart. Again, in an efficient and timely manner, students return their devices to the correct location, plug them in to charge, and return to their seats just in time for some final instructions regarding the day’s activities and a couple of hot tips for homework.
Is it this efficient every day? How does Dena establish and maintain expectations with i21 equipment so quickly? And how does she keep these expectations in place all year?
Dena Hause has been teaching for 31 years, and has been with the San Diego Unified School District since 1997. Dena has taught a variety of topics in the elementary and middle school settings, ranging from language arts, Spanish, math, social studies, and technology classes. Like many teachers, Dena was enticed to become an educator because she likes helping people, working with kids, and enjoys figuring things out. While serving as Dana Middle School’s Digital Teacher Leader (DTL), she is earning her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership with a focus on Technology through California State University, San Diego and the San Diego County Office of Education, and is currently teaching one section of Technology Support Services to 5th and 6th graders at her site. Dena is a risk taker, a multi-tasker, and is a life-long learner. This passion for learning, the willingness to try things on, and the level of care she has for her students and colleagues manifests into a deep, rich program where educational technology, pedagogy, and leadership are substantiated by the great work she does in her classroom
When asked how she manages it all, Dena shares, “I lay out guidelines and expectations, and they need to be clear, but also flexible enough to make changes when needed.” She explains that, like with anything else she does in the class, having a clear set of procedures for students to follow, and consequences for breaching expectations establishes consistency. Dena adds, “And, when it comes to consequences, it is clearly stated what will happen if i21 devices are not used appropriately, and I follow through.” Because Dena establishes clear expectations and consequences, students typically make good instructional choices while using the technology. Students almost always make great choices while working on the computers and while working on-line. Additionally, Dena adds, “I find that my presence in the classroom and on-line helps.” Just knowing that their teacher is watching and interacting with them in class and on-line is enough to help remind students that good digital citizenship is expected at all times.
When Dena was asked how she establishes all of these policies and expectations that help drive class routines and management strategies, Dena said, “First, I use a district netbook and cart agreement. It’s comprehensive and it covers expectations very well. What it comes down to, is respecting the equipment and taking care of it.” Dena goes on to share, “The next part is getting the devices out and putting them away. Plus, I reinforce these rules throughout the year as needed.”
Establishing routines and expectations with the i21 equipment and student devices is indeed important, but what follows is how students use the device to create, collaborate, think critically and creatively, and present or share their work. Establishing digital citizenship expectations provides students with a structure for working on-line, collaboratively, and ethically. “Many students believe that if it’s on the internet, then it’s free to use. That’s a dangerous belief that can get them into trouble. I teach them how to use Creative Commons, or the Advanced Google search to find creative-commons licensed works. I also teach students how to create a proper citation, and give them resources, such as Google’s citation maker, to give proper credit.”
By providing a structured, but flexible set of expectations, Dena is able to provide a dynamic and differentiated set of lessons to her students by infusing digital tools and digital literacy into her instruction and facilitated curricula. Some of these activities include project-based learning, blogging, publishing work to a wider audience (outside of the classroom walls), and facilitating real-time 24/7 student communication and collaboration. This year, Dena anticipates infusing technology into Common Core standards-based activities, and the new math curriculum. “This year with the new math curriculum,” Dena explains, “there is a lot more problem solving. I definitely want to use technology to help with this. There are virtual manipulatives, for example, that students can use to help make meaning.” Dena is also planning to migrate from Moodle to My Big Campus. “I’m building up our My Big Campus group, modifying and adding flipcharts, creating pages and pumping up bundles.” Having a learning management system in place significantly helps the flow of the class and simplifies dissemination of information for parents and students. Clarifying information for families and students alike is part of her effective management strategy.
When asked if there was anything else Dena would like to share, she said, “I just can’t imagine teaching without technology at this stage. Using My Big Campus and all of the tools available on the device and on-line . . . it’s part of my daily practice and classroom structure. Plus, the student engagement is huge! The current resources available to teachers and students, like Promethean Planet, and British Museum . . . without these current and real-life resources, it would take my whole class into the past; it would be a step backwards.”
Moving into the future? Watch for Dena Hause . . . a risk taker, a pioneer? Yes. A mentor and facilitator of knowledge? Indeed. And where does she start? By teaching the students how to properly manage and maintain their own student device, and seek help when needed.