For more information on CaMSP projects, please visit Public Work's website.

CaMSP February 2017 Newsletter

The Use of Technology in CaMSP Projects


Students of GreenSTEM teachers at Whittier School District show their mathematical thought processes through interacting with teacher-created videos using Educreations. Teachers are able to incorporate sentence stems to help them discuss the standards for mathematical practice. Students solving problems are asked to detail their thought process while at the app records their voice and their input; in other words, what they write down. Teachers can use these recordings to see where students might have gaps in knowledge. Not only do they see the student work, the student “talks” the teacher through their process, making it easier to highlight where a potential misunderstanding exists.

This is one of many examples of how CaMSP projects are addressing the “T” in STEM. This article, the first of two, gives an overview of these technologies and how projects are using them with both their teachers and students. PW surveys have shown that when participants are asked about technology, many teachers report Google documents to collaborate with other teachers. Others report the use of Edmodo, Haiku, Schoology or similar collaboration/online class management software. Teachers also talked about hardware (e.g. iPads, Chromebooks or other computer usage) when asked about how technology was being integrated in the grants. Interestingly, relatively few partnerships are using computer science, robotics, coding, or app creation.

There are many factors influencing projects’ use of technology. Two of these are access to technology and how proficient their teachers are at the beginning of the project. Whittier, a K-8 School District, has a one-to-one iPad program for all students and a number of their teachers were already using apps. This allowed their GreenSTEM project a head start in using Educreations, a video creation app, with their students.

According to Chrysa Saade, project director for Whittier, the idea for using the app began with their teachers as Whittier City School District has already been committed to using apps for education. This allowed their technology coach, Alicia VanDenburg, now Coordinator of Instruction, to look at apps their teachers already were using, particularly those teachers could use to access student work in quick and easy ways.

During a recent meeting at Public Works, the PW staff discussed the various technology tools that we have seen used at our various partnerships. In the section below we categorized the various tools and included a short description.

Types of Technology Tools

Used for day-to-day classroom management including attendance, rosters, assignments, grades, surveys, and homework. Examples: Haiku, Blackboard, courseSites, IlluminateEd, Schoology, Edmodo, and E-Chalk.

These are tools that teachers and project directors have used to teach students and participants. For example, some partnerships have used Arduino controllers and programming language to teach participants to code and in turn teach students to code. Other tools used in the classroom to teach include:

  • Interactive modeling software, to model natural phenomena, math functions, etc.
  • Websites/apps for recording short lesson
  • Online coding software to teach students basic coding language
  • Apps that allow participants to start online discussions
  • Software allowing teachers or partnership directors to annotate videos, like YouTube videos, to add more information or ask for viewer responses.
  • Digital Whiteboard Apps, which allow teachers and students to demonstrate solutions to problems, either to teach students or assess student knowledge.

These are tools that allow teachers to more easily share video with the classroom or record themselves teaching. In general, we have seen partnerships using these mostly in their intensives or follow up, as the price of some of these automated tools does not allow for the purchase of many. Example include, Airplay/AppleTV boxes, and Swivl

These tools are used by partnership participants to collaborate with one another. In general, this is dominated by the Google Suite of apps (e.g. Docs, Drive, Sheets), but other collaboration tools include voice messaging apps participants can use to communicate, and a website for sharing resources with teachers throughout California.

These tools allow participants and students to create presentations, similar to Powerpoint, but with different options, internet sharing capacity and hosting. Examples include, Adobe Spark, Prezi, Padlet, and Movie Maker.

Part II of this series will examine some of the various collaboration tools partnerships are using to share curricula, lessons, and other products.