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Technology showcase educates

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 18:12

techshowcase

STAR // Lina Raffaelli

Children get to play with some of the interactive stations set up at the showcase.

Any event that allows guests to play Pac-Man using Play-Doh controllers and interact with robotic vehicles spinning around the room is sure to bring a crowd.  

That is exactly what happened on Thursday evening when a few hundred teachers, college students and members of the public flooded the Cooperage for the third annual Teacher Technology Showcase.

“We have teachers come [and] present what they are doing to integrate technology into their students’ learning environments,” said Director Jessica Parker.  “We have them showcase examples of what they are doing in their classroom, with their school, or in general with their students after school.”

With a maze of presenters filling the room, visitors were able to choose which innovative programs and activities they wished to learn more about.

Presenters ranged from current Sonoma State University students still in the credential program to veteran teachers around the Bay Area.

These presenters showcased the innovative ways pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers could improve learning.

As much as the grade levels varied, so did the ideas. One recent graduate, Liz Deichler, presented her research and theory that by having students play a video game, teachers could better analyze and adapt their teaching.

This would help students develop into problem solvers and leaders not only in the virtual world, but in the real world through providing opportunities to applying the same ideas in real life.

“Some students may not be comfortable in face-to-face situations,” said Deichler. “I have done countless hours of research and my hope is to create a curriculum that teaches these kids better leadership skills in all aspects of their lives.”

Another presenter, Laura Bradley, a middle school English teacher in Marin, presented her curriculum in which for an entire semester students are coached through writing a novel.

“It is extremely difficult to push students to write 7,000 words of a novel in a semester,” said Bradley. “For those who are able to complete it, their stories are published and sold on Amazon, plus they get five free copies.”

The rest of the students who aren’t able to finish their stories get excerpts published in a class-wide book.

Bradley explained that with the help of a non-profit program called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the students learn the immense amount of time it requires to write a novel.

“It’s a great venue not only because you get to hang out with your colleagues,” said Parker.

“It’s an informal event where you get to walk around and in two hours you get to see 35 presentations, have some food, see educational organizations, like KQED and Edutopia, and also get your hands dirty with the maker’s space.”

The maker’s space was a new addition this year in which a Marin based junior high brought technologically advanced learning crafts and experiments that the attendees could try.  
These activities included discovery-based button making, playing a digital keyboard by sending electrical currents through bananas, and making light up spiders using small LED lights, wire, tape, watch batteries and pipe cleaners.

Next year the showcase will come back bringing new presenters, but in the meantime, Innovate/Educate Sonoma is having an event in Santa Rosa on June 6, 2014, where many of these same ideas will be featured alongside new ones.

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