This story was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of Harker Quarterly
A total of 175 educators from around the Bay Area attended the fourth annual Teacher Institute on the Saratoga campus to learn about technology and different methods to improve classroom curricula. It was the highest participation since the event began.
The institute started as a summer Mathematica session that trained Harker staff to use the mathematics software and develop a project-oriented curriculum. In 2008, however, Fred Triefenbach, an instructional technology staff member, thought Harker should share this knowledge with the community at large. That session has evolved into the full-fledged technology program that is offered today.
“The instructional technology department and The Harker School believe that we have an obligation to share what we have learned about technology in education with the wider educational community,” said Daniel Hudkins, director of instructional technology.
Added Lisa Diffenderfer, assistant director of instructional technology: “The focus really was to share the wealth with the community.” Consequently, Harker’s instructional technology staff focused on offering free – or nearly free – resources that teachers with limited budgets can utilize.
In addition to coordinating and planning the event with instructional technology staff Angela Neff and Triefenbach, Diffenderfer led a workshop called “Free Web 2.0 Tools.” The session showcased various free, cross-platform online tools that could be used in the classroom. She demonstrated how VoiceThread can transform classroom discussions by creating elaborate presentations that include images, documents, videos and voice comments. “It went well. There were a lot of resources presented that teachers hadn’t seen before,” Diffenderfer said.
An extensive list of sessions included ways to grade online, integrate digital content – video, photo, podcasts, music – into the classroom with Moodle, collaborate online with various tools like Google Docs, and use multimedia such as documentaries, graphics and sound to spice up a presentation.
One workshop, taught by Milpitas Christian School teacher Diane Main, introduced geocaching to attendees, showing how searching for hidden objects and creating treasure hunt games can offer a new way to enhance classroom activities.
Stephanie Haining, a teacher in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, demonstrated innovative ways to use iPods to create student projects. Jonathan Brusco, middle school history teacher at Harker, showed how to make history exciting by integrating documentary filmmaking into the curriculum. Other Harker faculty and staff who presented include Kathy Clark, Mike Schmidt, Scott Kley Contini, Mark Gelineau, Kim Sandoval, Gerry-louise Robinson, Grace Wallace, Danny Dunn, Andrew Carlos, Lauri Vaughan and Sue Smith.
Hudkins said the entire event went smoothly and recognized Silicon Valley Computer Using Educators (SVCUE) for its support.