This article was originally published in the fall 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Summer at Harker got off to a great start as, in early June, a record-breaking number of educators from around the Bay Area attended the eighth annual Harker Teacher Institute.
More than 175 participants came out for the event held on the upper school campus to learn about technology and different methods to improve classroom curricula. Hosted by Harker’s instructional technology department and sponsored by the Silicon Valley Computer Using Educators (SVCUE),the annual institute has become increasingly popular.
Harker has long held ties with SVCUE, the local affiliate for San Mateo and Santa Clara counties of Computer-Using Educators, Inc. of California (CUE). CUE and SVCUE are committed to networking, resources and the integration of all forms of technology throughout the curriculum.
This year’s event focused on free or inexpensive classroom technology tools and kicked off with a welcome address from Dan Hudkins, Harker’s K-12 director of instructional technology. The half-day institute included a continental breakfast, afternoon lunch and three breakout sessions with a number of workshops to choose from. Presenters were primarily Harker teachers from K-12, with one presenter from the local community.
Workshop titles included “NoodleTools: Tools for Student Research,” presented by Kathy Clark, Harker’s lower school librarian, who has used NoodleTools with students in grades 4-5 for the past six years. Clark led a discussion of NoodleBib, which assists students in creating properly cited bibliographies.
Another popular workshop was Renee Ramig’s “iPads in Middle School Classrooms.” Session leader Ramig, director of technology at The Seven Hills School in Walnut Creek, has been working in educational technology for the past 26 years at a variety of Catholic, public and independent schools. She shared some apps that middle school teachers have successfully used in their classrooms.
Extremely relevant in today’s quickly evolving world of publishing was Hudkins’ afternoon session, “Where are We Going with eText?” With so many variations of readers and texts from Kindle to Nook to iPad, it can be confusing to navigate as the textbook world begins to move from paper to digital format. Hudkins presented informative background on current pitfalls, options and opportunities.
The workshops taught by Clark, Ramig and Hudkins were just a few of many useful options to choose from.
The institute started as a summer session that trained Harker staff to use mathematics software and develop a project-oriented curriculum. In 2008, however, Fred Triefenbach, then assistant director of instructional technology and a computer science teacher at the upper school, had the idea that Harker should share this knowledge with the community at large, which led to the creation of the Harker Teacher Institute.
This year’s event was bittersweet for Triefenbach, who was preparing to retire after 12 years of working at Harker. “Over the years, the event has really evolved into a huge success,” he said proudly, adding how gratifying it has been to share his knowledge about technology in education with the wider educational community.